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EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Mountain/Resort Related Forums › Resorts, Conditions & Travel › Help with planning out a winter ski/snowboard trip! [Northeast, low budget, mixed ability]
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Help with planning out a winter ski/snowboard trip! [Northeast, low budget, mixed ability]

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

First off, thanks in advance for checking out this thread. Last December a group of friends and I took a trip to Smugglers Notch, Vermont and it was one of the best vacations that I have ever went on. It was my first real ski trip but we had a blast and the conditions weren't even that good! I think only like 55% of the trails at Smugglers Notch were open, everything else was closed due to lack of snow. We went the week before Christmas. This year we're in the early planning stages and I was hoping for some help from the community. 

 

Due to the majority of the group being broke college students/newly weds, they're on budget constraints and are trying to keep things as cheap as possible. Last year we bought points from my parents Bluegreen/RCI timeshare and only ended up spending a total of like $675 on lodging split between 6 people. It was a very cheap trip. So here's where I'm needing your guys help, hoping that some of you are more experienced bargain travelers than I am. 

 

First off, we would like to keep the lodging of the trip as cheap as possible. I understand that it's unlikely that we are going to get as good of a deal as last year but the cheaper the better. 

 

Secondly, we've got some more inexperienced skiers with us this year. Some that are likely to only want to ski greens for the first day or two that we ski. Last year at Smugglers Notch, we only had one guy with us that was only able to ski greens. The way that smugglers is set up, the greens are all on one separate part of the mountain that you had to take a shuttle to get over to which made the entire trip not very fun for him due to the fact that he had to spend the majority of his time away from the group since we were always skiing the blues/blacks on the other part of the mountain. With that in mind, we would like to go to a resort that is more accommodating for inexperienced skiers with perhaps some green slopes coming off at the top of lifts along with blacks/blues. I know some resorts have this, just don't know which. 

 

Third, we would like to go somewhere in the New England area. We have looked at Jay's Peak, Smugglers Notch, Stowe, and Sugarbush. Other recommendations are welcome! If you have any information on the cheapest ways to stay, please let me know!

 

Thank you very much!

post #2 of 16

For a bunch of people, cheapest way to stay is probably a vrbo + costco food and drinks!

post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thank you! I was actually just checking out VRBO. Most of the offerings seem to be privately owned places that people rent out, am I correct? I liked the whole resort experience at Smugglers last year a lot, just wouldn't be ideal for people who are not the greatest of skiers or are unable to confidently ski blues.

post #4 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by jhoffy22 View Post

Thank you! I was actually just checking out VRBO. Most of the offerings seem to be privately owned places that people rent out, am I correct? I liked the whole resort experience at Smugglers last year a lot, just wouldn't be ideal for people who are not the greatest of skiers or are unable to confidently ski blues.

yeah, vrbo are vacation rentals by owner :-) exactly that! Condos might be a good option as well... but don't get anything that doesn't have a kitchen! They fun part on a ski trip with friends is half during the dinner parties in the evenings! :-)

post #5 of 16

I use VRBO for ski trips with friends a lot.  For some resorts, the condos near the lifts are not all owned by the ski resort.  Meaning some are privately owned and rented out using something like VRBO.  Often the VRBO prices are less than what the resort charges.  Helps to book early.  The least expensive units go fast.  Of course that means coming up with the money for a deposit.

 

Have you looked at the EpicSki Resorts section?  Click on Resorts in the menu bar at the top.  Can be a good place to start researching specific ski resorts.

 

For early season, you might be able to get a timeshare unit without using points.  At least I think RCI Points members also have access to Last Call.  Can be as low as $400 for a week but can only book within 45 days of arrival.  Essentially the resort is trying to avoid having empty units.

 

I don't know the northeast at all. But hopefully someone will give you some advice of where to go.

post #6 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by jhoffy22 View Post

First off, thanks in advance for checking out this thread. Last December a group of friends and I took a trip to Smugglers Notch, Vermont and it was one of the best vacations that I have ever went on. . . .

 

Due to the majority of the group being broke college students/newly weds, they're on budget constraints and are trying to keep things as cheap as possible. Last year we bought points from my parents Bluegreen/RCI timeshare and only ended up spending a total of like $675 on lodging split between 6 people. It was a very cheap trip. So here's where I'm needing your guys help, hoping that some of you are more experienced bargain travelers than I am. 

 

Secondly, we've got some more inexperienced skiers with us this year. . . . With that in mind, we would like to go to a resort that is more accommodating for inexperienced skiers with perhaps some green slopes coming off at the top of lifts along with blacks/blues. I know some resorts have this, just don't know which. 

 

Third, we would like to go somewhere in the New England area. We have looked at Jay's Peak, Smugglers Notch, Stowe, and Sugarbush. Other recommendations are welcome! If you have any information on the cheapest ways to stay, please let me know!

 

Thank you very much!

Where are you starting from?  How long to you plan to stay?  In December again?

post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 

One week, coming from northeast Ohio. Either the week before Christmas or January 3-10th. 

post #8 of 16

Early Jan definitely better than Dec in terms of the chance for good snow conditions.  Dec week probably would be cheaper.  Can you wait and make a decision in Nov or does the group need to pick a date sooner rather than later?

 

Take a look at Holiday Valley and Gore Mountain in NY.  Might find better deals at places that aren't major ski destinations.  Definitely less expensive lessons for the beginners at smaller places that cater more to locals.  Whiteface is only about an hour from Gore, so could go up for a day for something different.  I haven't skied at any of these places but will be checking out Whiteface and Gore in early Dec.  Will be up in Lake Placid for Thanksgiving and found a timeshare the first week of Dec.

 

One way to search for relevant threads is to use a directed search such as "gore: epicski.com" .

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jhoffy22 View Post

One week, coming from northeast Ohio. Either the week before Christmas or January 3-10th. 

post #9 of 16

At least for Maine, Craigslist is a good place to search for camps for rent by the week-put ski in the search to narrow things.  In Maine Sunday River and Sugarloaf put the most into their snowmaking and I would look at either of those.

 

Agreed odds are better the first week in January than two weeks earlier-just two more weeks of winter to cover the trails.  Real slow time for rentals so probably can wait or try to work a deal.

 

A destination to look at is greater North Conway, NH.  There is a variety of terrain on 4 close mountains:Wildcat, Attitash, Black, Cranmore.  There is a ticket deal fro the ski and ride card Dartmouth Childrens Hospital (that should let google hit it) that could help.  Newbees could look for deals at the 4 named resorts-ski areas are looking hard for new skiers.

post #10 of 16

I strongly recommend looking toward New Hampshire and Maine. Compared to Vermont, prices are much more reasonable and lift lines are short if they even exist (which they usually don't!). Forget western Massachusetts as those places are basically day trip locations for people coming from the NY metro / tri-state area. In summary, Vermont is way overpriced and overcrowded due to its proximity to the Mid-Atlantic, New York, and Connecticut. It should be avoided whenever practical.

 

Jay Peak is a different story because it more closely competes with the Quebec resorts than the rest of Vermont. For the past few years my ski league has gotten an absolutely incredible early season package deal from Jay Peak. Be forewarned that early season at Jay is very hit or miss. Their snowmaking capacity is mediocre at best. They rely on the natural stuff because they get the most snow in the East. Of my three years visiting Jay in mid December, one year had stellar conditions and two were a real washout (one so bad that we fled -- wasting our prepaid package -- and went south to salvage the rest of the week). But... they do have an indoor water park which will allow you to soak up one bad day with style.

 

I am a huge fan of the North Conway, NH area (see link).

 

The mountains in New Hampshire are by far the largest in New England, however, the high peaks (Mt. Washington and the Presidentials) are not skiable above tree line (about 4,500 ft) due to extreme weather. Within an hour or so of North Conway you can ski...

Within a half hour or so:

  • Attitash
  • Wildcat
  • Cranmore
  • Black, NH
  • Shawnee Peak, ME

Within an hour or so:

  • Bretton Woods
  • Cannon
  • Loon
  • Sunday River, ME

 

Of those places, Sunday River does the best job on early season snow making. Bretton Woods also does a lot of early season snowmaking and has lots of gentle beginner / intermediate terrain. Loon blows early season, but is very Vermont-ish (i.e., crowded and expensive). Cannon and Wildcat will provide your advanced terrain. Cranmore has the advantage of being located right in North Conway and Attitash is very close. Wildcat will have

 

Now to discuss affordability...

  • if you insist on Vermont look into staying in Rutland. They have the most affordable hotels and are near enough to the southern VT areas. I've had good luck with Hotwire getting hotels in Rutland.

In New Hampshire there are basically two base areas with affordable lodging...

  • one in Franconia / Twin Mountain / Littleton that is close to Bretton Woods, Loon, Cannon. There are lots of motels in Twin Mountain that cater to mostly snowmobilers but also skiers.
  • The other in the North Conway area (Jackson, Bartlett, Glen, etc). There are also a bunch of ski clubs (www.eicsl.org) on the North Conway side that offer lodging for guests for $25/night/person. It might be tricky to find one that has members willing to host guests mid-week, but weekends should be easy. PM me for details on that.
     
post #11 of 16

Maine would be a looong drive from Ohio for the OP and his friends for a 1-week trip.  Certainly not worth it for the beginners in the group.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jhoffy22 View Post

One week, coming from northeast Ohio. Either the week before Christmas or January 3-10th. 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by bliz1978 View Post

I strongly recommend looking toward New Hampshire and Maine. Compared to Vermont, prices are much more reasonable and lift lines are short if they even exist (which they usually don't!).  . . . 

 
post #12 of 16

That is a good point.

 

Putting your departure and destination in map search for travel time and using a cost calculator are fairly quick and could give more insight in where your time and money is going.   

 

North Conway really is hard to beat.  There are quite a few timeshares in the area so look around.

post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 

Just wanted to drop in and say thanks to everyone who provided me with helpful information and sound advice in here. We ended up booking another trip to Smugglers Notch (went there last year) from January 4-11th. Hoping that it's not too crowded and that we have awesome snow. From what I hear, Smuggs doesn't get too crowded. The only thing that worries me is the slow lifts which could lead to long lines. Last year we didn't have to worry about that because we went the week before Christmas. The only bad thing was that there was a huge lack of snow with only about 40% of the slopes being open. Nonetheless, it was still an awesome experience and the best resort that I have been to bar-none! 

 

We will be staying at Smugglers Notch Resort and booked the whole trip for $1,100 which I thought was an awesome deal!

 

Thanks again!

post #14 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by jhoffy22 View Post

Just wanted to drop in and say thanks to everyone who provided me with helpful information and sound advice in here. We ended up booking another trip to Smugglers Notch (went there last year) from January 4-11th. Hoping that it's not too crowded and that we have awesome snow. From what I hear, Smuggs doesn't get too crowded. The only thing that worries me is the slow lifts which could lead to long lines. Last year we didn't have to worry about that because we went the week before Christmas. The only bad thing was that there was a huge lack of snow with only about 40% of the slopes being open. Nonetheless, it was still an awesome experience and the best resort that I have been to bar-none! 

 

We will be staying at Smugglers Notch Resort and booked the whole trip for $1,100 which I thought was an awesome deal!

 

Thanks again!

Thanks for the update.  Hope you'll post a Trip Report.  Hopefully last year won't be repeated in terms of the slow start in the east.

post #15 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by jhoffy22 View Post

 

We will be staying at Smugglers Notch Resort and booked the whole trip for $1,100 which I thought was an awesome deal!

 

 

Is that $1100 each or $1100 / 6 people total? Does it include lift tickets?

post #16 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeSchmoe View Post

 

Is that $1100 each or $1100 / 6 people total? Does it include lift tickets?

That is $1100 total and no it doesn't include lift tickets. Smuggs has something called the Bash Badge which is $99 and it enables you to purchase $25 lift tickets the rest of the season. 

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EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Mountain/Resort Related Forums › Resorts, Conditions & Travel › Help with planning out a winter ski/snowboard trip! [Northeast, low budget, mixed ability]