Winter storm warnings can be a happy sign your ski vacation is going to be a good one. But they can also mean a delay -- or, at worst, the end -- of a long-planned and long-anticipated trip to the hills. And now things are getting worse. As the rough economy has shrunk demand for travel, airlines have shrunk their capacity for travelers. And as that capacity has shrunk, the New York Times reports, the airlines' ability to accommodate weather-stranded travelers has also receded.
Some of us over at SKI Magazine are what you'd call armchair travelers. Sure, we get out in ski country -- from Aspen to Zermatt -- but the closest we've come to a truly global, truly fish-out-of-water ski experience is skiing in Korea.
Like a lot of folks, you might be planning your spring break ski getaway. And like a lot of folks, you may be getting slightly irked at the baggage fees most airlines are now charging -- and at how those fees are constantly changing. For ski vacations especially, those fees can add up, with up to $25 for a bag full of ski clothes, then another $35 for a ski bag -- provided your airline doesn't charge an extra fee for oversized ski equipment, or charge extra for a boot bag.
The Winter Park Ski Train isn't exactly the speediest way to get to the slopes, but it's a fun one. Which would you rather do on your way to the ski hill -- sit in zero-to-60-to-zero traffic, or have a nice breakfast and read the paper? We'd prefer the latter, and we'd guess you would too. So when the train went kaput last year -- after former owner Anschutz Co. sold the line to a Canadian company -- we were a bit bummed out. No longer.
As we all know by now, much of the economy is in the, er, powder room. But it turns out that even with the mortgage crises, the credit crunches, the layoffs and the Madoffs, skiers are a resilient bunch. Turns out the fancified side of skiing -- the fur-lined boots, the overpriced après, the spa-based lifestyle -- is not what brings us to the hill. In the end, what we're there for is putting skis to slope, and not much else matters.
Let's face it: Getting to Vail is often a pain. The drive to the Colorado resort from Denver International can be snowy, slow and crowded. On the one hand you've got overconfident locals in all-wheel-drives zipping from lane to lane; on the other you've got just-off-the-plane out-of-staters not wanting to crash the rental.
In the doldrums between family-vacation season and ski season, there's still plenty of reason to get outside. If you're a golfer, the times couldn't be better: The sun still shines late into the day, and it's warm enough to hang out in shorts. And if you're a skier, ski-resort golf courses offer a lovely way to ease into the season.