PowerBall Lotery is at $425 Million today, maybe that'll solve this dilemma... and a few others.
I'm in a time zone ahead of you, and i don't think your numbers were any good
I think Whitefish would be ideal and I plan to do this trip at some point. And again and again. I live north of Marysville, so taking the Amtrak from Everett is pretty easy.
You can also take Amtrak to Sandpoint, although the train gets there really early in the morning, though some hotels will arrange a shuttle for you. From the Seattle area it takes maybe 5 hours to drive there. I've been to Schweitzer twice in the last two years, the first time was over Xmas and it was a blast. I've enjoyed skiing Schweitzer as much as I have any place I've been to (Tahoe, Snowbasin, Powder Mt and Solitude in Utah, Sun Valley, Bachelor, Whistler). Uncrowded, much less expensive that most resorts. Great terrain for a family, enough advanced and expert terrain to keep you busy. If you have a season's pass with Stevens you will be able to ski 3 days at Schweitzer as part of the Powder Alliance (other than 12/26/13 - 01/04/14 blackout). Also keep in mind Schweitzer has offered 3-packs for $99 at the Ski Fever show the last 3-4 years. Lodging in Sandpoint is pretty reasonable; the on-mountain lodges are more expensive. There are also lots of condos available.
Accommodation prices for family of 5, in village, walking distance to lift start close to $1,000 per night ++
I don't know where you are looking for accomodation, but I just looked at alluradirect.com--what I think is the best condo rental site--and they have tons of condos, for 5+ people, for FAR less than that. There are plenty in the under $400/night range. There are a number of them with 4 beds, which is what you'd need, for $350/night. You can get a 3 bd, 3 ba, 1200 sf, with 6 beds, walking distance or short bus to lifts, for $625/night (that one is in Stoney Creek Lagoons).
I don't know how you came up with your numbers, unless you were only looking at mulitple rooms in the luxury, ski in/out hotels. I didn't pay even half that during the Olympics for a condo.
And there are a couple really obvious things you can do here to keep even those prices down.
One is to stop insisting on being right by to the lifts. Whistler has an excellent free bus system, and it's a compact place as it is, so you're never going to be staying too far away. Why not stay a little outside the village and ride the bus to the lifts? I hate carrying skis and walking in ski boots so I do that even if we just stay in Village North. It's no trouble at all.
Xmas and NY are on Wednesdays. Do you really need to go Wed-Wed? Is there a time at the beginning or end of your kids breaks' when prices might be slightly lower that you could do? A lot of condos have early season rates through Dec. 20th. Can you start the trip then to get some really killer deals? You'd beat the crowds then too.
Also with Whistler, you'd be driving, right? So you wouldn't be forking over the money for the plane tickets you'd buy for CO or somewhere else.
You don't need to be within walking distance of the lifts at Whistler. The bus system is efficient, quick, and free. There are lots of places where you just walk out to the street, step on the bus, and you're delivered right to the gondola.
I'd say just rent a cabin or condo in Glacier and spend the week skiing Mt. Baker. It's close, or at least in-state, and is the one place that is sure to have snow. However, it sounds like you need to keep the crew entertained and Glacier is very limited in that regard.
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 skis if 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. [You may not have realized this because the Northwest was the happy exception]
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.
+2 The Pacific Northwest is more often than not THE most reliable ski region in December. Locking in airfare and lodging in advance to go someplace with likely not as much snow (and this goes double for you and your expert sons, who require a deeper base than the typical vacationer) is not a good idea. If you must use that week, limit yourself to somewhere you can drive and thus make the decision a few weeks ahead. Mt. Bachelor would be one option, with reliable snow and the town of Bend does not jack up lodging so much as other places at Christmas. Other possibilities would be Schweitzer, Whitefish, Big White, Fernie and Nelson/Rossland for Whitewater/Red Mt. Of those Red has the most expert terrain but would also be the most speculative for adequate cover at Christmas.
Whistler's Christmas snow conditions track record is one of the best anywhere. Unfortunately they know that and charge accordingly.
You want to try someplace in Utah or Colorado? Do that for your college son's spring break week, when those places are at their prime and Washington more often has spring conditions.
The resorts in the B.C. Interior will have some of shortest lift lines and least crowded slopes in North America at Xmas time. This is due to two main factors:
Canada has one tenth the population of the US and most Americans who ski Canada go to Whistler.
Many of the ski areas in B.C. have expanded and tried to go from local hills to full resorts but don't have a sizable near by population base. The exception is Fernie and Kicking Horse because they get day skiers from Calgary.
I would not recommend Big White due to its propensity for fog, and there are a lot of skiers living in Kelowna 3/4 hours from BW so it could get very busy at Xmas.
I would recommend my favourite, Sun Peaks. It is the closest B.C. Interior resort to Seattle, is the second largest in B.C. in area, has more snow making than most, has a ton of ski-in accommodation. Sun Peaks has a well deserved reputation as a family mountain, but I can show the OP the less often skied steep terrain and side country powder stash and provided that there is a normal amount of coverage, I can guarantee the OPs teenage sons won't be bored with the skiing.
For more detailed info on Sun Peaks, read my review below.
This thread is kind of a face palm. You want to ski a prime resort (read: crowded), stay right at the lifts during the most crowded, expensive part of the year, and do so on the cheap. Oh yeah, and then you want to cancel (for free) if the conditions are bad, sticking the resort with a room it undoubtedly would have sold otherwise (which is why there is a minimum stay and you can't cancel during Christmas week). Ever think of changing at least one of those expectations?
Your profile says you live in WA. Why not ski one of the smaller ski areas in WA or somewhere else closer by like Idaho, which would save on plane fare and presumably be less crowded than Whistler or Vail? Whether you stay close or travel out, you should be looking at smaller ski areas, as opposed to the biggest name resorts. Or change your dates, or get ready to pay through the nose.
After reading the original post I can only assume it is a "troll." There are plenty of ways to ski on the cheaper side, like not doing any of the things the OP lists as requirements in his post.
The only way I've been able to pull this off was by making friends with a guy who has a condo at a prime resort within walking distance of the lifts. Otherwise, get out your wallet.
Bottom line, this is not the time to leave Stevens Pass.
If the oldest son is going to school near a ski area, figure out a time to join him during the season. Or pull the others out of school for a different week when son #1 is still on break (college breaks are longer than HS).
I agree that's a ridiculous stat. The Kottke Report for major ski regions had Dec. 22 - Jan. 6 comprising 14-18% of total skier visits. The average Rocky Mountain resort is open 138 days, so those days are 11.5% of the total. I'm surprised, as I would expect the the percent of visits during the holidays to be more like double the percent of days. Of course that definition is broad; during the peak crunch Dec. 26-31 it might well be double. I think it's a safe bet that Dec. 22-25 are no busier than average and might well be less busy.
This is a subject that will have variation by resort, but it stands to reason that destination resorts that have full coverage of snow for 3+ months will not do anywhere near 50% of their business at Christmas. Some areas handle crowds better than others. Areas that usually don't get crowds can be a problem when they do. I was at Whitefish on a quite nice President's Day and the main bottom to top lift had a ~10 minute line all day. But that's a high speed lift of ~2,000 vertical and the other lifts were not that busy. So I would say the crowd impact was noticeable but manageable. For a mom-and-pop place with only a few old slow chairs, that's when you have big lift line problems if many more people show up than normal. Mt. Baldy, Castle Mt., Mad River Glen, Montana Snowbowl (all of which I like quite a bit) fall into this category.
How are you guys defining business? Skier days or revenue?
I could easily believe xmas (or xmas + Presidents') is a really, really, really big chunk of revenue % for major resorts. They seriously bump lodging prices xmas and Presidents' week. They fill virtually 100% of beds those weeks. They book most (maybe all?) instructional slots. Folks splurge on meals. Lift tickets are not exactly discounted...Etc. Revenue may not exactly correlate with skier days across the year...
Anyway, I'm curious about whether or not people are comparing apples to apples?
The good ol' Lookout Pass/Silver Mtn. (both in Idaho) combo. You can stay in either Kellog or Wallace on the cheap in what are honestly pretty respectable rooms (The Trail Motel in Kellog and The Stardust Motel in Wallace are both great ).
This can be tricky. I try to do a bit of research to see what might have changed. Alta is the most conspicuous example in my experience. Christmas 1986-87 was my worst liftline experience ever. The old Germania chair averaged 45 minute lines all week and peaked at 75 minutes on the one day with new snow. After that I refused to set foot there on a Saturday or holiday and even midweek I got consistently 50% more skiing in a day at Snowbird than at Alta.
The high speed Collins lift installed in 2005 has eliminated most of the severe liftline problems and over the past 3-4 years it's been evident that Snowbird is busier than Alta. With more lifts and acreage at Snowbird to compensate the ski experiences are often quite similar. On a day when the tram is busy you now get about the same vertical at either area.
Just compare fiscal quaterly results and statements from resort execs and Xmas and a few holidays + spring breaks: they're the cream on top of the 40% total revenue recieved before the snow falls from early bird sales. Weekend accom is pricier of course than midweek (so places like Aspen fill midweek beds by offering 14 days of lifts for the price of 8 to foreign travel agency clients)
Then there's snowy days: these cars (below, pic from yesterday, a Saturday) pay $40 to park miles from the runs.
The buses pay $8-$10 per passenger to park miles from the ski runs.
Anyone with liuggage pays $20.50 pp one way to sit with 11 others (each paying $20.50) to go in a cab to the hotel (after stopping at other people's hotels).
Al Capone shouldda run a ski resort. It's such a racket that the GovernMint grabs losts of that money.
For a week in the US (other than Xmas, MLK and Presidents Day) you can't beat Reno or Heavenly. Tahoe 6 pak for $55/day for up to 8 different resort. 2 weeks lodging in a casino from $250 or so a week Up to 8 resorts over 6 days. Grab a snowbomb.com pass for $50 and get a free day at Homewood + Sierra +, if you like to drive back to LA with a detour, China Peak and Bear Valley. $50 for 4 lift tix. Cheep.
No, it's per casino room.
I was shopping for 12 nights and grabbed 2 weeks in a 2 bedroom condo on the north shore beach at $699/week.
A dummy booking in Reno at the time came up as about $500-$600 for 2 weeks mainly in casinos for a lot of places, some with nice photos and reviews that ranged from 'its a dive' to 'it's great for the price. Just pack disinfectant and cockroach spray. There was similar pricing in casinos for 12-14 nights on the cusp of late Jan 21 (Presidents Week) to Feb 4. The rooms come without coffee makers - so buy a electric jug at Walmart so you can avoid running in your pajamas to Starbucks. Reno is close to Mt Rose and is about 45 minutes to Squaw, and Nstar is close enough. Heavenly was very similar for $1300-$1500 for a week in a 1 bedroom condo with kitchen that'll sleep 4. If I bring over a uni ski club, we'll stay in Reno and grab skilaketahoe passes at an average $55 per day.
Im also a member of a ski club that has $20/night beds in a older style home on the north share. Midweek it's empty. On weekends, they're a fun crowd.
If you win a bunch of money in the casino they give you a nice room or suite for free. They don't want you to leave with their money. They'd rather you sleep there and hopefully gamble again tomorow.
Yes, a few weeks ago I think I tried 24 Dec for 12 or 14 nights. I looked at Squaw's reservation system and fell off my chair. Then I looked in Truckee, then Reno. Places like Bayview, Sands and Grand Sierra came to mind because they were far lower than Atlantis' special for Squaw passholders. Pepper something had nice rooms by the pool for a relative fortune.