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How to do a prime season ski trip for a reasonable price ?

post #1 of 63
Thread Starter 

I'd like to do a prime season family ski trip this year, between Christmas and New Year.  Does anyone have any suggestions on how to do this for a reasonable price (reasonable is all relative) ?

 

I've looked into Whistler, Banff / Lake Louise, and Vail and am finding pretty much the same thing:

 

Accommodation  prices for family of 5, in village, walking distance to lift start close to $1,000 per night ++

Many have 7 night minimum during these prime dates

Most have a zero refund if you cancel within 75 - 90 days of the stay

 

Any way to stay at a prime resort walking distance to lifts  at lower prices ?

Considering I'm going there to ski, if it's terrible or non-existent skiing in December, any way to cancel at minimum loss ?

post #2 of 63

Consider somewhere like Solitude? 

post #3 of 63

What's your definition of "prime resort"?  Have heard that Grand Targhee is worth considering for Christmas holidays.  4 hour drive from SLC.  But not much to do besides ski.  They do have some special activities for kids.

 

Perhaps Red Mountain?  A few hours drive from Spokane.  The new lift will be open, which expands the lift served acreage by quite a lot.

post #4 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post

What's your definition of "prime resort"?  Have heard that Grand Targhee is worth considering for Christmas holidays.  4 hour drive from SLC.  But not much to do besides ski.  They do have some special activities for kids.

 

Perhaps Red Mountain?  A few hours drive from Spokane.  The new lift will be open, which expands the lift served acreage by quite a lot.

Why drive 4 hours out of SLC when you can drive 30 minutes to a multitude of outstanding resorts. 

 

Another vote for Solitude here, that's where I hope to get to next season. 

post #5 of 63

Stay away from Whistler. Salt Lake City is where you want to go.

post #6 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by east or bust View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post

What's your definition of "prime resort"?  Have heard that Grand Targhee is worth considering for Christmas holidays.  4 hour drive from SLC.  But not much to do besides ski.  They do have some special activities for kids.

 

Perhaps Red Mountain?  A few hours drive from Spokane.  The new lift will be open, which expands the lift served acreage by quite a lot.

Why drive 4 hours out of SLC when you can drive 30 minutes to a multitude of outstanding resorts. 

 

Another vote for Solitude here, that's where I hope to get to next season. 

The OP is asking about Christmas holiday season.  Certainly wouldn't recommend Park City then.  Not sure a whole week at Solitude at holiday prices for a family of five is the clear answer.

 

I love Alta, but that doesn't mean the wide open slopes of Targhee that stay uncrowded isn't worth considering during holiday weeks.  Of course, for me driving a few hours each way for ski weekends is standard practice.  That's what I do just to ski at a little hill in VA since I live in the flatlands of NC.

post #7 of 63

Prime resort within walking distance of the lifts is the problem.

 

If you can compromise, go to SLC, stay in town or suburbs, rent a car, and you will have the choice of several prime resorts.

post #8 of 63

    Why not consider something smaller and cozy? You don't have to go fancy and upscale. As an example, Lost Trail Powder Mountain in Montana with multiple nearby hot springs and lodging opportunities would be perfect for a holiday family getaway... http://www.losttrail.com/

 

    zenny

post #9 of 63

We did SLC the week before Xmas last season

 

Motel for two in Sandy for $100 per night breakfast included. Took the City Ski Bus to the four "canyon" resorts and drove to Park City one day. Used Liftopia and skied Brighton, Alta, Snowbird and Park City for $30 to $60 per ticket. Lots of restaurants and shops in Sandy. Also took a day trip to Brianhead. About 50% -  70% of the runs were open with too thin cover on the steeps, but there was still plenty of terrain to keep most happy.

 

Great skiing and great value if you give up the idea of ski in ski out resort style vacations.

post #10 of 63

Reasonable Prices and Christmas aren't commonly uttered in the same sentence. But  I ran a dummy booking for  Heavenly for 8 nights from 24 december, 2 bedrooms, 2 parents + 2 teens, and it was around $1500 for the 8 nights. The lodging is all at the base, there's shuttles, or there's free parking at the lift areas. If you want a casino penthouse, or a 2 bedroom + kitchen, it's all there.

post #11 of 63

We went to Red Mountain over the Christmas Period last year (Arrived 24th December) and stayed to mid January. Last year at least there was no premium applied to accommodation over the Christmas Period.

 

Fantastic snow, brilliant terrain, (and despite what is often said, they do have lots of variety for all levels), no crowds and great mountain - also this year they will have new terrain open - the best thing about this is the orientation, consistently last year when the front side was in fog, Grey Mountain was in brilliant sunshine.

 

But, their marketing is correct, if you want to ski up to the door of your hotel, hand your skis to the ski valet and retire to the hot-tub and have a waiter come and take your cocktail order, this probably is not the mountain for you. The base area where the accommodation is a bit soul-less, and unless you have a car getting to Rossland is a hassle.

 

But, if you are self-contained, (we had a huge condo that was really quiet (no ski boots clumping along the hall)), there are restaurants at Red and in Rossland, and a good supermarket and there is a pub in the base building for a beer after skiing.

 

If you do go, get a ShredRed Guide for a day - $149 for the first person and $75 each person after that, for the whole day. It was a great day and meant that we understood the mountain heaps more. (There aren't too many signs at Red either, which we are used to, but could be disconcerting if you are)

post #12 of 63
Wow, the next time an Epic member wants me to show them around, I'm going to have to up my rates.. :-)
Quote:
If you do go, get a ShredRed Guide for a day - $149 for the first person and $75 each person after that, for the whole day. It was a great day and meant that we understood the mountain heaps more. (There aren't too many signs at Red either, which we are used to, but could be disconcerting if you are)
post #13 of 63
Thread Starter 

...some great suggestions - thanks. Will look into these areas and save Whistler for the spring season.... much, much cheaper at $200 - $250 for a nice 2 bedroom in late spring...even got a few feet of fresh pow last spring. 

post #14 of 63
Have you had a look at ownerdirect.com ?
post #15 of 63
Can you handle a little grunge? How about The Hostel in Teton Village at Jackson Hole? Seven nights 12/21 to 12/28/13 in a private quad room, sleeps five, $623+taxes: https://webres.msiwebbooking.com/WebRes/DefaultPages/WBEContainer.aspx?GUID=aad0769d-6063-4280-9f36-afd9563eb812
post #16 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post

What's your definition of "prime resort"?  Have heard that Grand Targhee is worth considering for Christmas holidays.  4 hour drive from SLC.  But not much to do besides ski.  They do have some special activities for kids.

 

Perhaps Red Mountain?  A few hours drive from Spokane.  The new lift will be open, which expands the lift served acreage by quite a lot.

Probably your best bet if you are going for the skiing and needing to book ahead.  Prime vacation time is the time to book ahead.

 

If the coin is blowing your mind (travel, lodging, car rental, tickets, meals for a family of five is one huge bill) then the best prime places to choose from are Lake Tahoe and Salt Lake City. High Traffic airports keep ticket costs and travel times in check.  Large rental stock-dig around in time shares, craigslist, internet home listings.  Ski ticket prices are good for here.  Snow often is good for December.  

post #17 of 63

If I had a nickel for every thread regarding cheap ski trips during peak demand….

 

You can’t go wrong with SLC or Reno, but you’ll be staying in Suburbia, not some quiet aspen filled mountain valley.

post #18 of 63

Every place that is in high demand will have strict cancellation policies at Christmas.  You live in Washington.  Just wait until you see who has good conditions, at a reasonable price and then drive.

It's rare that any resort will be booked 100%. For a family, I'd be looking at small resorts.

post #19 of 63
Inexpensive, prime resort, high season - pick any two.
post #20 of 63

Expect to pay twice the usual rate for slope side accommodations XMas week.   Maybe more.

 

If that's outside your budget, try:

 

  1. Stay off resort e.g. go to SLC, stay in town and drive to the lifts each day.
  2. Find another week to go.
  3. Go somewhere that is usually really cheap so that paying 2x the usual rate is within your means.
post #21 of 63

OP- Why?

 

Planning a ski vacation the week between Christmas and New years is problematic even before you get into cheap.

 

1.  You will need to book in advance to get something.  Makes it really hard to book at someplace that has good conditions.

2. Skiing conditions can be very, very, very hit or miss Christmas.  Most places, the best you can hope for is 100% open, but bring your rock skisif you are actually going to ski the whole mountain, and worst case is WROD. The past 2 years, it has been a WROD Christmas for most of the West.

3. Busiest time of the year for skiing, plus it is when all of the "casual" skiers come out, so yay for lift stoppages, out of control skiers, erratic skiers, etc., and in many cases the "good" terrain is not open to escape from the rest of the horde.

4. Most expensive time of the year to ski, blackouts on almost all deals, etc.

 

I think the only worse time for a ski vacation is Thanksgiving.

 

Trying to be constructive about taking a cheap ski vacation over Christmas, I'd recommend a smaller area that gets lots of snow. Make it more about the family than the skiing, and have fun.

post #22 of 63
Generally I really don't like adding to the Christmas chaos, but normally we're close to 100% open at Christmas. It's a week I skip when possible. We're also pretty cheap. But I'm not going to start looking up rates. Just guessing your best bet is stay in town at a place with a mountain shuttle or use the Snow Bus rather than paying for staying right at the slopes. There's way more to do in town anyway.

But I'm with the others. It's the worst time to go from a conditions perspective, crowds, and money. Yank the kids out of school and do it some other time. Yeah, the school doesn't like it, but in 20 years, will it really matter that they missed a few days of school if the trip was a resounding success? The stress of traveling at Christmas, the cost, the conditions... How much can you enjoy all that?
post #23 of 63
As for minimizing losses, sign up for trip insurance that allows "cancel for any reason". It might be the best money you ever spent. I did that last summer because I was worried about a companion being able to come and it covered not only that, but rental car insurance and health insurance. The health insurance was WAY better than my own insurance and was "primary". So my one week stay in a hospital, including an operation, cost me all of $50 plus the cost of the insurance, covered all my hotel and rental car messes, replacement tickets, etc. I don't buy that stuff for little trips, but will always use it for bigger undertakings.
post #24 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

As for minimizing losses, sign up for trip insurance that allows "cancel for any reason". It might be the best money you ever spent. I did that last summer because I was worried about a companion being able to come and it covered not only that, but rental car insurance and health insurance. The health insurance was WAY better than my own insurance and was "primary". So my one week stay in a hospital, including an operation, cost me all of $50 plus the cost of the insurance, covered all my hotel and rental car messes, replacement tickets, etc. I don't buy that stuff for little trips, but will always use it for bigger undertakings.

What company do you use?

post #25 of 63

If you live in Washington state why not ski here and do day trips? I don't know where you live in Washington, but Crystal Mountain and Stevens Pass go off big time in December. It's the best month in these parts other than March/April. For several years in a row it's been off-the-charts great. Last December was the best month of the 2012-2013 season.

I don't schedule ski trips elsewhere in December because it's so good here. White Pass, Mission Ridge, and 49 degrees north would be less crowded options if you feel the need to stay near the ski slopes.

post #26 of 63
Try www.vrbo.com as well
post #27 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lex View Post

If you live in Washington state why not ski here and do day trips? I don't know where you live in Washington, but Crystal Mountain and Stevens Pass go off big time in December. It's the best month in these parts other than March/April. For several years in a row it's been off-the-charts great. Last December was the best month of the 2012-2013 season.

I don't schedule ski trips elsewhere in December because it's so good here. White Pass, Mission Ridge, and 49 degrees north would be less crowded options if you feel the need to stay near the ski slopes.

 

This. My typical Christmas is doing some day trips from wherever I am celebrating Christmas.  Really the attraction is skiing with family that I don't normally ski with. I leave the real ski vacations for non presidents weekend in Feb and early March.

post #28 of 63
Quote:

 

If you live in Washington state why not ski here and do day trips? I don't know where you live in Washington, but Crystal Mountain and Stevens Pass go off big time in December. It's the best month in these parts other than March/April. For several years in a row it's been off-the-charts great. Last December was the best month of the 2012-2013 season.

I don't schedule ski trips elsewhere in December because it's so good here. White Pass, Mission Ridge, and 49 degrees north would be less crowded options if you feel the need to stay near the ski slopes.

+1. If you live here, skiing outside the region in December is just silly. If your heart is set on a vacation, rent a condo in Glacier and ski Baker, or a cabin in Leavenworth and drive to Stevens and maybe Mission Ridge.

post #29 of 63

It might help if you clarified your definition of a "family ski vacation". Is this everyone skis together a ton as a family? Or is it that you ski, and everyone (or most everyone) else does other stuff? This may very well define what makes any kind of sense or not.

 

In general, I think a whole lot of good advice has been offered. While I have enjoyed the xmas trips I have done at resorts, they have almost always been crazy expensive and crazy crowded. Targhee is probably the lone exception with slopeside options. But unless everyone is skiing, it would not be a win. These days I usually stick to local areas during that time window.

 

I'll echo the question about why leave the Cascades that time of year? Granted, there is some risk as we do not have snow making - but the snow is usually far better than most of the rest of the US. And while things are relatively crowded, I've never seen a truly major lift line at Stevens (under normal circumstances anyway)  - whereas I've skied big resort days during holiday weeks where I waited an average of 30-45 minutes (maybe more) for every ride. Not satisfying...

 

Anyway, unless you need activities for non-skiers, if you really want the vacation thing, I suspect your best bets will be places sort of like Targhee - - good odds of good snow but perhaps  lesser "resort" amenities. ID and MT offer a few possibilities. Another thought - in my experience, Mammoth is a PITA to get to, but I have found it a good value. Never been there at xmas though.

 

Oh - and if you intend to fly, of course air travel is a nightmare that week. Doubly so if it involves a transfer.

post #30 of 63
Thread Starter 

...some very good points made.


To clarify details:

 

Myself and 3 sons (ages 14 to 19) ski 25 -  60 days per year, mostly at Stevens Pass, all are expert skiers, wife only skis about once every couple of years, so would prefer a nice  active village location with other things to do.  Oldest son is going off to college, so pulling him out of school no longer works, and the time between Christmas and New Year is probably the only time we can get all of us together for a full week.  One week at 'Whistler Holiday Prices' is about the same as one semesters worth of Tuition and Room and Board - literally. 

 

Certainly, worst case scenario is heading up to SP each day, which is what we usually do.  I've been to Park City (late season) and there was no new snow for a week and a half, and we had 3 ft of snow in 3 days back home at SP - still had fun, but skiing was better at home - considering this was a business trip add-on, it didn't phase me much, but if I spent $10,000+, it would have been painful.

 

...and yes, conditions in late December can be sketchy almost anywhere, and the main purpose of the trip is skiing, and for my sons, all of the terrain, off-piste, in-bounds boot packs, etc.

 

PowerBall Lotery is at $425 Million today, maybe that'll solve this dilemma... and a few others.

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