Originally Posted by anachronism
Does it make any sense for an intermediate groomer skier to travel out West?
I am somewhat confused about looking at this idea SOLELY on a financial basis.
Solely on a financial basis, you would stay home and ski the Mid Atlantic.
People come out West because the skiing is generally better than the marginal cost difference between travel our here vs driving North. People find it worth the extra money to come here.
Solely on a cash basis, if everything was equal, I would stay in the Mid Atlantic. However, I do not consider both areas to be equal. From what I have learned (various sources) it does appear that there is better skiing conditions and terrain out west. How much more would one be willing to spend for better conditions/terrain is another matter.
About $300 to $400 (ie cost of airfare) more is much easier for me to justify a week trip to a western ski area. If the cost difference is closer to $1000 or more then it does not make much sense to me. (regardless of the better terrain out west) At that point I might as well go to Europe see family and ski a few days while I am there. (Although time becomes another issue. If I went to Europe, I'd like to stay at minimum 2 weeks, preferably a month.)
Originally Posted by Scott43
For me, as marznc says, fly Southwest (outta Buffalo for me), stay in SLC or Ogden and hit the Utah trail. I think we were in a Best Western for $69/night. It's not really any more expensive than East, other than the airfare. And at that, $300 is worth it, IMHO. If you can go last minute East is ok. But the conditions..well..hit and miss.
I have not looked into lodging, so I put a generic $100/night into budget. I did not factor lodging as a difference between western/eastern skiing, since I would need to sleep for both trips.
Originally Posted by marznc
At this point, I'd say there are three things that I do to lessen the cost of a ski trip (>5 ski days) where I fly out west.
1) Fly Southwest: no baggage fees, no change fees so can commit earlier and change if needed . . . or to catch a storm
2) Meet up with friends: can save on lodging, car rental, food (share lodging with kitchen)
3) Plan in advance: can make use of lift ticket discounts months in advance, e.g., MCP bought in April
Finding ski buddies is what took a while. Finding compatible ski buddies in terms of time availability, interests (where to go, how long), and ski ability can take a while. Meaning a few years.
I bring my all-mountain skis and plan on renting powder skis if I get lucky with the weather. I leave my skinny skis that I used in the Mid-Atlantic at home. That way if someday I find a deal on powder skis, I could bring them home in the double Sportube.
I started planning my mid-season trip soon after the Gathering destination was announced. Didn't need the exact dates but kept the possibility in mind. Lots of possible scenarios considered once dates were set based on availability of primary ski buddies who are still working. For this season, all friends for mid-season trip bought the MCP at the lowest price available in the spring.
No time to read your numbers right now. Maybe later.
Thanks for the SW comment. Assuming skis can be included w/out extra cost that would be a plus.
I was thinking of costs for a single person, but I agree with your comment. If I traveled with other people (willing/able to split some costs) then some costs can be shared.
Good thought on planning ahead regarding sport tube.
Originally Posted by SHREDHEAD
Eastern trips are fine if your flexible and can pick your dates.
Western trips have a better return if you have to plan in advance.
There's really no reason to blow a whole day traveling to either.
Your rental rate is quite high and just bring your own dam skis.
I just looked at the rental price from snowmass Aspen. I just thought they were a typical price for renting out west. If they are atypical, that is good to know.
Originally Posted by sibhusky
Didn't read your numbers, but when I lived in New Jersey, if there was a non-Pocono trip after I'd been living there a while it was the West. I always had to plan trips (skied weekly anyway). Ultimately the hassle of driving in bad weather around NYC and in NE on those two lane roads was way more exhausting than hiring a limo to take me to Newark and getting on a plane, even including the fact that I had to handle my stuff and my kid's during all those non-sitting bits. At least when I arrived the snow was going to be good. I had too many trips to New England in snow storms, getting out of the car and brushing snow off of exit signs and existing just for the next cup of coffee to keep that up if I could be taken care of and read a book the whole time.
The joys of being employed.
Never traveled in poor weather for skiing, but I agree that driving through poor weather conditions can be very exhausting.
Originally Posted by x10003q
An Eastern ski week can be a wonderful break from your normal Eastern weekend warrior skiing. Despite what some have mentioned, it will be way cheaper. There are lodging/ticket deals that start Sunday night at most Eastern ski areas. The lack of crowds is wonderful and shocking at the same time. Slope side becomes affordable. There are also may options for variety without crazy driving requirements. You could stay at Stratton; Bromley and Magic are within 20 minutes and Mt Snow and Okemo are within 40 minutes. You can find this density in the Sugarbush Valley/Stowe area, the Conway and the Ski 93 areas of New Hampshire, Gore/Whiteface in NY, even Jay and the Eastern Townships of Quebec.
I am guessing you are about 5 hours from Stratton or Gore which also means you could ski on your driving days, too.
I love skiing out west, but eliminating all the related costs and hassles of flying and eliminating the rental car make the Eastern trip a bargain.
Correct on the distance from Gore and Stratton. Thanks for the information regarding potential midweek lodging/ticket deals.
Originally Posted by marznc
Looking at the cost estimates . . .
I don't consider food when comparing potential destinations. Usually that's between places out west but the same concept applies. You are going to eat in similar ways in terms of a mix of less expensive (free breakfast at a motel, sandwich, fast food) and more expensive (restaurant).
I bring a pair of skis when flying, so the potential added cost out west is maybe $100 for a couple days on demo skis. Of course, could rent for less but it's a good chance to demo powder skis.
You don't seem to be comparing the same type of ski areas/resorts between northeast and west. There are certainly destination resorts in the NE that charge more than $90 for a day ticket. Just as there are more places than you might think with $80 lift tickets out west. Plus for a planned trip out west, you could probably take advantage of some sort of discounted rate. I don't think it's really that different for comparable types of places, even though the western ski area would probably have more skiable acreage.
In short, food, lift tickets, and ski usage differs by $100-150 depending how lucky you are feeling about a powder storm. Agree that lodging is similar if thinking about a solo trip.
That leaves transportation. You covered airfare. Seems a little high on airport shuttle prices but I'm used to SLC. Car rental can vary quite a bit depending on the airport and weather. Obviously you're hoping that you need AWD, but unlikely that you would take a 7-day trip on short notice. So a good chance that 2WD would be enough.
In short, the price differential between a solo ski trip driving to the northeast vs flying out west is probably less than you think. Find one ski buddy to meet up with who is willing to share a room and that would cut the car rental and lodging costs in half. Then pretty easy to put a 1-week trip out west into your ski budget. Unless you are nervous about learning to ski fresh powder.
Note that for people who enough flexibility in their schedule to make it to the big Gathering or regional Gatherings (Mid-Atlantic, New England, etc.), chances of finding a way to share lodging and/or a ride from the airport are quite good. Especially if make a decision early on. Even for people who decide a few weeks out, there is usually an extra bed or bedroom available for sociable folks.
I admit to some ignorance regarding western ski areas. For some of the price estimates I used snowmass Aspen. (I am now realizing from your and other posts that Aspen is atypical of average western pricing/costs. ) I am more familiar with eastern areas and I have not noticed prices higher than $90. Most places I have seen are about $60-$75 on the weekends.
I was just guessing on car rental price. It has been a while since I rented and I assumed a rentals today would cost more than $50/day with unlimited millage.
I'd be willing to try a learn fresh powder. It even be worth getting some lessons on skiing powder. :-)
Good to note regarding big/regional Gatherings
Originally Posted by marznc
I can understand the reason to compare costs. Essentially to understand exactly what the marginal cost might be. If it's $300, that's one thing. If it's $1000, then perhaps no trip out west every year. It's not as clear cut for the OP because he's thinking about traveling solo. Obviously a completely different scenario just looking at the costs for a couple or family with 3+ plane tickets to buy.
However, comparing on a generic basis is probably not that useful. I think it would be better to compare a few specific destinations. Say Stowe or Sunday River for the northeast vs. Alta/Snowbird staying in SLC or flying to Denver and staying in Frisco for a trip out west.
Yes I was just considering solo traveling. A family with 3+ plane tickets is another scenario, that I was not thinking about at this time.
You make a good point regarding comparing specific locations. With specific places in mind, it would be much easier to make a comparison using specific numbers instead of estimated numbers.
Originally Posted by MephitBlue
I guess the cost difference depends on what you are willing to put up with and where you are located. While I know there are people who are willing to drive from Virginia to New England or upstate New York for skiing, I'm not one of them. If I'm going that far, I'm going to fly. The cost of a flight to New England maybe a little cheaper than to say Salt Lake City, but not much.
My last couple of trips out West I did not get a rental car. Salt Lake City UT and Steamboat Springs CO both have excellent bus systems that take you to the slopes, so that takes the rental car out of the equation.
I'm not knocking Eastern skiing, I've had great experiences at Whiteface in New York and Smugglers Notch in Vermont, but those trips cost about the same for me as going out West.
For me about 3-4 hours each way would be my limit for a day trip. For a multi day trip, I'd be willing to drive up to 12 hours depending on the location. For me, the longer the drive, the more reasonable flying would become.
Good to know about SLC and Seamboat. Glad to hear that (depending on skiing location) I would not need to rent a car.
Originally Posted by mdf
Also, if you really work at it, everything but the airfare can be done more cheaply out west. A cheap motel in Sandy UT is less than a cheap motel in Vermont, for example. Lift tickets are cheaper at smaller places out West that are still bigger than anything in the East. Etc, etc.
Sure, if you aren't careful you can spend a lot of money paying walk-up lift rates at a big hill, or staying slope-side, etc. But you don't have to.
Thanks for that Information.
Everyone thanks for the information and feedback you provided.
In a nutshell -- do more research and plan ahead when feasible. Except for airfare, one can plan a western ski trip that is very similar (within $200) in cost to an eastern ski trip.
If one can not plan ahead or get enough time off, then perhaps skiing where and when one can will have to be good enough.
Another general question: Are Denver and SLC the only (ski oriented) cities that have direct flights to eastern cities (more specifically PHL, EWR and NYC)?