Yeah, I've never understood the thinking of people who only consider flying to Denver because the fares are relatively low. Have to include travel time and associated costs for car rental or shuttle to do a true comparison of travel costs to somewhere like Aspen or JH or Big Sky. I'd say Tahoe is of less interest to folks on the east coast compared to SLC or Denver because there isn't really a major airport for access. Not worth paying to fly to Reno coming from the east when it's cheaper to fly into SLC.
I often go to Aspen and usually Denver is the better option by far. (I realize that might be different for others)
- Travel time: it typically takes two hours longer via car than via connecting flight.
- Travel options: there are less flight options to Aspen (often making skiing a full last day hard and/or hard to work the day of departure) and airport closures are much more common in Aspen.
- Flight costs: typically 300 less per person ($600 for the two of us)
- Car cost: I'm fine with a cheap FWD, typically $150 for the long weekend. After gas costs I still save $400 net.
- Other costs: having a car lets me buy cheap food in transit (breakfast, lunches, drinks, snacks, sometimes dinners) Saves another 100 bucks, 500 net.
In summary, going via Denver is a big win for me: saving $500, full work day, full ski day on last day and more reliable airport.