Once again we've nosed around ski resorts to bring you some of this year's best bargains. This winter, inexpensive family ski packages are on the list, but so are $39 lift tickets at Aspen, Colo. We've divided the bargains by region and state, so you can easily find out what your favorite ski spots are offering. Plus, this year we've added European specials for those wishing to experience foreign values.
Competition among the resorts and the ski-tour operators remains fierce, and that works to your advantage. We could only list a fraction of the bargains that are available, so here are a few tips on how you can find your own deals:
This winter, many of the best packages and last-minute bargains will be posted on websites. Start at sites managed by the ski resorts and the local chambers of commerce, but don't forget to view general travel sites, such as www.bestfares.com and www.trip.com, which routinely list deals. Auction sites are hot, so explore www.priceline.com and www.bidbudget.com. For discount coupons, try www.skicoupons.com, a site designed for people who want to save on vacation lodging, dining, skiing and more, using coupons printed off the computer. Many ski-tour operators post good deals on their websites, too. Go to www.skitops.com (or call 800-475-4867) for a list of more than 25 tour companies. Also, read everything that may contain a deal, such as flyers that come in the mail or with credit card bills. They are loaded with breaks ranging from full vacation packages to upgrades on lodging and free car-rental days. Review regional newspapers because resort hotels advertise last-minute discounted rates to fill empty rooms. If you're willing to sit through a presentation, timeshare properties offer low nightly rates to attract potential buyers.Some things never change. It's still cheaper to ski early- or late-season when lift and lodging rates are discounted. Sometimes, packages are positioned: ski and stay three/four days and get an extra night and day free. Several resorts offer these packages during non-holiday weeks in January and February.
Want new equipment but can't figure out what to buy? Call ski shops, ski areas and local radio stations running promotions at nearby slopes, and ask when demo days are scheduled.
The Fine Print Unless specified otherwise, packages listed are based on double occupancy and do not include taxes and gratuities. Before you book any trip, ask about the "terms and conditions." Refund and cancellation policies vary, so ask for specifics before putting down a deposit. Some Canadian package prices were given to SKI in American dollars, while others were converted from Canadian dollars using an exchange rate of $1 USD=$1.49 CDN. Prices and dates are subject to change; always call the resort or lodging listed to verify.