Originally Posted by easy rider
I have always done better myself than package deals
you just have to do lots of research
I have saved hundreds of dollars by renting in Stapleton and returning to the airport but it will cost a cab ride or better yet nothing if you stay that night in stapleton and use the courtsey van
several hotels have on site rentals
If you're really talking "Stapleton" you do know that Stapleton hasn't been the Denver airport for over 10 years now, right? It's now a mall and residential development. Good point though, if you want to avoid the airport rental surcharges. If you are in fact suggesting staying in Stapleton on arrival, I'm a big fan of the Doubletree Denver which is right across the street from where the airport used to be, and runs a free shuttle every 1/2 hour on the 1/4 hour from 4:45 am to 12:45 am from the airport, 4:30 am to midnight to the airport. I stay there a lot if I have an early flight out or a late flight back. They have an Avis rental desk inside the hotel.
More to the OP's point though, are you stuck on specifically going to Loveland? Right on the other side of the Continental Divide, you're in Summit County, which means Arapahoe Basin, Keystone, Breckenridge, and Copper Mountain. You can get to any address in Summit County from the Denver airport by Colorado Mountain Express shuttle van (ridecme.com). You can get all over Summit County, including to all 4 of the ski areas above, for free by the Summit Stage free bus service. Also to and through the towns of Dillon (the town 6 miles down the road from Keystone, 9 miles from A-Basin, and where I happen to live) and Frisco (centrally located, 6 miles from Copper, about 8 miles from Keystone, about 10 miles from Breck.) You thus can do a ski vacation to all of those areas without ever needing a car.
Loveland is almost considered one of the County's resorts, it's a local's favorite as well as very convenient to Denver skiers. But it's not in Summit so it's not on the free bus system.
There are cheap rentals by owner and sometimes on expedia/orbitz/etc. for condos in Dillon Valley East or West - which is where I live. It's becoming residential, but has a lot of 2nd-home and rental-property units too. There are some lower-cost hotel/motel chain properties in the County: There's a Super8 motel in Silverthorne right on the Dillon boarder and 2 minutes walk to the Summit Stage. There's a Best Western in Dillon, and another one in Frisco right at the Frisco Transfer Center (hub of the Summit Stage). There's a Ramada express across the street. Alpine Inn (an independent low-cost motel) and Summit Inn within walking distance of the Transfer Center. There's a relatively low cost independent motel, Snowshoe, right on Frisco's charming main street. Another lower-cost chain, Choice Hotels, has one of their medium-priced brands Comfort Suites in Dillon. There's a La Quinta right there too. These are both walkable to the Dillon Ridge Shopping Center bus stop on the Summit Stage.
Also there's a Hertz rental at the Transfer Center in Frisco, where you could rent a car for one day if you want to pop over to Loveland.
Combine one of these inexpensive (relatively - remember it is ski season) with using CME to come up from Denver, and you've got a car-free package you put together yourself. I have seen some of these in the Expedia/Orbitz/Travelocity prepaid booking packages where you select a flight and then add a hotel. Look for Dillon, Colorado and Frisco, Colorado.
You're still just as close to Loveland as if you stayed in Idaho Springs, and almost as close as if you were in Georgetown. But you're central to more mountains, and more off-mountain variety from being around several towns (although both Idaho Springs and Georgetown do have nice old historic charming downtowns).
Lift tickets at discount for Copper, Breck, Keystone can be bought at the local supermarkets (City Market, Safeway), at ski shops in Silverthorne (Virgin Islands) and Frisco (Pioneer Sports) and several others. Breck and Keystone are both owned by Vail Resorts, and A-Basin has a marketing agreement with them, so a Breck or Keystone ticket is good at all three of those areas. No need to pay window prices. Not sure about Loveland but if I recall, they have a membership/discount card program.
Here's the airfare "flexible dates" search I just did on united.com for United from Orlando to Denver dates around 1/8 for about a week:
If you can leave on Tues 1/8 and return on a Mon or Tues, it's $207. If you can leave on Wed 1/9, it drops to $198. Sun-Sat is more expensive, $362. Mon-Sat gets a little better at $298. Other airlines might be similar - With United having a massive hub here, Frontier also hubbed hear, and Southwest now doing a lot to DEN also, there's enough competition that many of the airlines often have reasonable fares to Denver. Remember the cheapest fares often have to be booked 21 or 14 days out, so we're already past the 21-day timeframe if you want early-to-mid January.
Doing a quick search on Orbitz (Orbitz, Expedia, Travelocity etc. will add $5-7 to what the airline charges), for that 1/8-14 sample, I'm seeing $212 with tax/fee on Frontier, US Airways, United; $214 on Delta, $215 on Northwest, $217 on American, $224 on Airtran. So pick your favorite airline or the airline who's frequent flyer program you're in (never step onto a plane without crediting miles to their or a partner's FF program even if you have the silly idea "I'll never earn enough miles for a free trip - see my article
Orbitz has the Holiday Inn Frisco for $89/night for those nights, maybe a few bucks saved if you combine it with a flight booked with them. Across the street from the Summit Stage. Expedia has the Best Western Lake Dillon (which is actually the one in Frisco, steps away from the free bus) for $91/night average those nights, 85/night for just weeknights.
A lot of places do show sold-out, so if you're thinking of going, I'd jump on getting a low-cost flight and a lower-cost motel/hotel sooner, rather than later. "Roll your own package"!
BTW - if you stay at the Best Western Lake Dillon lodge, which is right at the Frisco Transfer Center, you can save about $25 or so each way on Colorado Mountain Express, by booking at ridecme.com and choosing their "Point-to-Point" service which only goes from Denver airport to the Frisco Transfer station. Then you walk 100 feet across the parking lot and you're at the BW. I once saw some poor fool have a pickup scheduled at the BW when I was taking the cheaper Point-to-Point. I got in the van, the van drove 100 feet, and he got in the van having paid $25 more than me for the exact same trip.