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7 Ski Holiday Vacation Deals
Early season ski deals are getting an upgrade with added perks and benefits.
Act quickly to secure an affordable (and stress-free) snowy getaway in top ski destinations across the country, from Utah to Colorado.(Getty Images)
Early season ski deals used to expire in November, when annual lift pass sales halted for the season and condos were filled up. But nowadays, in an effort to combat the sharing economy's sudden deluge of lodging options and fickle weather conditions, resorts have begun offering excellent values for those who book ahead, especially if you commit to mountainside lodging. Though there are blackout dates over popular holiday weekends, here are great values in seven of the top states for winter sports enthusiasts.
Lake Tahoe, California
For beauty and elevation, it's hard to beat Lake Tahoe, home to many world-class mountain resorts. At one of the largest resorts, the two-time Olympic host Squaw Valley, deals start at the airport, where travelers can exchange boarding passes for a free, same-day lift ticket. With Squaw Valley's fourth night free lodging and lift ticket package, if you book a slopeside accommodation for four nights, you'll only pay for only three nights, and get two free four-day lift tickets. And if you want to attend lessons, take advantage of the student loyalty program, where every two adult group lessons and every five kids lessons earns a free class.
While mountain deals are plummeting, Colorado resorts are hosting exciting Olympic-themed events. Many events are free, but come attached to high lodging costs, so check your calendars. At Keystone Resort, guests can seize upon a kids ski free offer that allows visitors ages 12 and younger to ski and ride free every day, with a minimum two-night lodging package. Additional perks include no blackout dates, free designated family parking near the ski school and complimentary red wagons to help schlep kids and gear. Off the slopes, complimentary Kidtopia activities, parades, fireworks and arts workshops run all season, with peak holiday events from Dec. 15 to 24, culinary fun from Feb. 9 to 7 and musical beats from March 2 to 10.
Snowmass, known as Aspen's family-friendly mountain, is turning 50 this year. Through Dec. 17, a minimum three-night stay earns you one $50 credit at the Capitol Peak or Hayden Lodges. At all four Aspen mountains, if you rent equipment for ages 7 to 12 from Four Mountain Sports, kids will get a free lift ticket for each rental day, 30 percent off group lessons after seven days. Just keep in mind that lodging offers are valid from Jan. 1 to April 16, with one month advance purchase.
Meanwhile, at Crested Butte, the focus is on learning, and kids ages 12 and under can ski for free until Dec. 15, then again during the late season, from Apr. 1 to 8. Outfitter Crested Butte Vacations provides a fourth day free with three-day lodging and lift tickets from Jan. 2 to Mar. 8.
Taos, New Mexico
A newly renovated children's center and learning terrain are being celebrated at the scenic Taos Ski Valley this winter, with a ski kid free special offer. If you book ages 3 to 13 into two one-day sessions, their accompanying adult will get a free one-day lift ticket using the code NMTRUE. The Blake at Taos Ski Valley, a new stylish hotel that's part of the resort's huge capital improvement plan, is also offering 20 percent off stays booked online.
Pennsylvania Ski Resorts
Pennsylvania ski resorts take advantage of their rolling terrain and shorter season to focus on beginner skiing, and off-slope activities, such as indoor water parks and recreational zones. The 19 member mountains of the Pennsylvania Ski Association promote the PSAA's First-Time Ski or Snowboard Program, which bundles a lesson, beginner lift ticket and rentals at any of their resorts for $59. At Seven Spring Mountain Resort, on weekends through December, the free Holidays in the Highlands festival includes a million twinkling lights, a Santa Express train ride and a crafts market. Weekend lift tickets that are valid from Friday afternoon to Sunday evening – there's night skiing till 10 p.m. – cost just $159 per adult and $124 for children ages 6 to 11. Plus, kids under age 6 can ski for free.
Park City, Utah
Utah, like Colorado, is loaded with mountain resorts and legendary powder. At the top-rated Deer Valley Resort, which is partnering with several major resorts in a new snow sports empire to rival Vail, early season skiers take 25 percent off lift ticket and lodging rates through Dec. 15, and 20 percent off until Dec. 21, with a three-night stay minimum.
The Park City Area Lodging Association, which also serves the Park City Mountain, has a high-flying offer through April 8 for anyone who books a minimum three-night stay at Lodges at Deer Valley, Silver Baron Lodge, Goldener Hirsch Inn, Signature Collection or Trail's End Lodge – a $300 Delta Air Lines gift card to cover airfare.
Stowe, having recently developed real estate projects, an Adventure Center with indoor family activities, a skating rink, new kids center and more, is an enticing ski destination. Many nearby resorts are offering specials, such as Topnotch Resort's $199 ski for free package, which includes a room and one lift ticket until Dec. 15. The Ski & Stay Package includes one lift ticket per person per room night, plus mountain shuttles, ski storage and boot warming through Mar. 31.
At the posh Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa, complimentary afternoon tea and appetizers by the main fireplace are part of the rural Vermont appeal. Save 30 percent until Dec. 23 for visits between Jan. 1 to April 15, 2018, by prepaying the deposit in advance. Even better, you can enjoy 50 percent off if you're a first-time guest, as winter athletes and spagoers pay from $134 per night for rooms with fireplaces through Dec. 23.
Looking for a more kid-friendly option? Bromley is Vermont's sunny, family-friendly mountain, where a six pack of lessons costs 25 percent less than retail, and the $74 Sun Mountain Card, sold through Dec. 15, gives you one free lift ticket plus $30 off each weekday ticket, $20 off weekends and $10 off on holidays.
Mount Ranier National Park, Washington
With 703 inches of snowfall logged in 2016, Mount Rainier offers prime terrain for snow sports. This national park is a bargain-lover's delight, too, with backcountry landscapes for skinning and splitboarding (uphill skiing and snowboarding) after 5 feet of snow has accumulated. Families with children age 8 and older love the free ranger-guided snowshoe walks around the Paradise recreation area. Two-hour adventures discovering native plants and animals cross 2 miles of terrain in a hearty workout; snowshoe rentals are a $5 donation. They run twice a day weekends and holidays, from late December to March and daily during school breaks. What's more, trails maintained for snowmobiling and sledding are open all winter. There are several lodges with rooms starting from $65 per night between the mountain and the hip city of Tacoma, which offers great food, a vibrant nightlife and a wealth of museums to round out your getaway.
50 American Adventures in 50 States
About En Route
Practical advice on the art of traveling smarter with tips, tricks and intel from En Route's panel of experts.
Contributors have experience in areas ranging from family travel, adventure travel, experiential travel and budget travel to hotels, cruises and travel rewards and include Amy Whitley, Claire Volkman, Holly Johnson, Marsha Dubrow, Lyn Mettler, Sery Kim, Kyle McCarthy, Erica Lamberg, Jess Moss, Sheryl Nance-Nash, Sherry Laskin, Katie Jackson, Erin Gifford, Roger Sands, Steve Larese, Gwen Pratesi, Erin Block, Dave Parfitt, Kacey Mya, Kimberly Wilson, Susan Portnoy, Donna Tabbert Long and Kitty Bean Yancey.
Edited by Liz Weiss.
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