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First trip out West in 10 years... where should I go?

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

Hello all,


I'm 29 now and looking to head back West to ski this winter.  In my younger days I skied WB and a lot of Utah...Canyons, Deer Valley, and Snowbird.  After a hiatus from the skis and a winter back in the saddle here in Ohio I am ready to spend 3 weeks out West this winter and need some advice.


Here is what I am looking for:


1)  Looking to plan a trip Jan 3rd - 24th or thereabouts.


2)  Price isn't really an issue, that being said I can't spend $5 g's either.


3)  Want to stay on the mountain; ski in ski out accommodations.  Budget is about $1000 a week; if it has to go to $1500 a week, then I will cut my trip down to 2 weeks.  Of course I would like to spend less.


4)  I will be going by myself for the most part, but will have some people flying in to stay a week here and there.  Some friends one week and some family the another week.


5)  I would like to be able to walk to restaurants, stores and activities in the evening.  Or a short shuttle ride.  I REALLY liked this when I went to Whistler, we stayed in a hotel right in the village and it was a 5 min walk to the Gondola and a 2 min walk to a restaurant or store or bar.  I am not really looking to rent a car.


6)  Terrain.  I am all about the groomers, I love putting on my stiff skis and just railing the turns.  At this stage of getting back into skiing I am not much for the steeps or ungroomed.  But I am not opposed to some variety either.  But good grooming is a must.


7)  I don't know what level I am, but 10 years ago I skied the blacks at all the resorts I mentioned, however I am probably a blue guy now.  Still getting my confidence back from so many years off.


8)  Some places I was leaning towards... Steamboat, Aspen, Vail, Jackson, Big Sky, Tahoe, Taos.  I am really an open book!  I will just be spending a lot of money and want the snow to be great during early to mid January.  


9)  I think I want to stay and explore one mountain, I don't think I want to do the Summit County hop and try to pack in 3 or 4 resorts.  I would like to go to a big resort and spend 2-3 weeks exploring it and not worrying about getting a shuttle to a different resort or renting a car etc.  This is suppose to be a relaxing trip.  Although the night skiing at Keystone intrigues me slightly.


10)  Uncrowded is best, but since I have weekdays to ski maybe that won't be a problem, I could just relax on the weekends?  But yeh, I don't want to spend 15 min standing in line for a lift.


Any incite you guys could offer would be great!




Edited by JMann2380 - 6/20/2009 at 04:55 pm GMT
post #2 of 21

I'll eliminate mine for you.  If you only do groomers, you'll have done it all in one week and I'm pretty sure the fog will freak you out.  Take Big Mountain off the list.

post #3 of 21
Thread Starter 

What about Steamboat?  That is what I am leaning towards... thoughts? 

post #4 of 21

I personally wouldn't want to be at Steamboat for 2-3 weeks. Not that it's a bad place, but the base area isn't all that interesting, and there is limited ski in/ski out lodging. And the town is about a two mile shuttle ride if you don't have a car, and the parking situation is such that a car is not real practical. From your description of what you're looking for, Snowmass would be ideal for you. Almost all of the lodging there is ski in/ski out. There are tons of dining options in the Snowmass Mall, which is an easy walk from just about anywhere. And there are usually good deals to be had around that time frame. And when you get bored with that, there is always a free shuttle ride available to and from Aspen. Snowmass is huge, with a wide variety of terrain from groomed cruisers to bumps to tree skiing, fast lifts, a ton of verticle, and usually good conditions around that time. Probably the most diverse single mountain I've ever been to. And it is almost never crowded in January. Plus weather is never an issue, it's either snowing or sunny. And if that isn't enough to keep you happy, there's always the free shuttle ride to the other three mountains, Highlands, Buttermilk, and Aspen Mountain, all of which can be skied with the same lift ticket. In truth, you could ski Snowmass for two weeks and never get bored, combine it with the other three, and you'll find yourself wanting to stay another two just be able to ski them all.

post #5 of 21

Snowmass is a good idea -- free bus service to Aspen for lots of nightlift and four mountains to choose from if you get bored. Good groomers as i recall in Snowmass.


Take Taos off you list too. It's a great mountain, but they don't groom all that well.


Vail is another solid choice for you. good bus trasnport; lots to do in town; you can change the experience by skiing Beaver Creek a day or two or three on the same multi-day ticket (i'm pretty sure). They have lots of wonderful wide open groomers and they even (god forbid) groom swaths through the back bowls. It's not steep, but vey big and can keep you interested for quite a while.



post #6 of 21
Thread Starter 

Thanks both of you!  That is the type of info I needed.  Now $$$$ wise, which is a better value?  Is Snowmass as expensive as Vail/Aspen?


What about the Tahoe area?



post #7 of 21

Tahoe is fine, but in the city, there's only Heavenly. The other areas require transportation.


Price between Asspen and Flail - probably Flail would be cheaper, but not by much. There's always Breck if you insist on groomers constantly, but I'd hate to have to spend more than a couple of days there due to terminal boredom. Keystone is there too, and while it doesn;t get a lot of love on some forums, I've always had a good time there, and they have a town (and A-Basin up the street!)


I love Steamboat, but as you probably know, it's gnar score is medium, and I'd say for more than 3-4 days it would get a bit stale. Also, like stated above the town is a ways off from the hill. You can however be in Vail in 1.5 to 2 hours from S-boat, so you could spend time at both.


Given your criteria I'd look back at the Park City region, or maybe pick opne of the I-70 areas then just go to the other places when you get bored. I don't know any area in US where you can explore for a couple of weeks unless you ski REAL slow.

post #8 of 21
Thread Starter 

Wow looking at Park City, it is A LOT more affordable than Colorado.  I have always wanted to ski CO but might just have to go back to Utah.  I guess it depends what kinda summer I have sales wise!  What is PCMR like?  I didn't ski there when I was in Utah last. 

post #9 of 21

Your planned period includes one of the busiest weekends of the season -- MLK.  That will inevitably make ski-in/out accomodations more expensive.


IMHO, the benefit to staying in Park City isn't ski-in, ski-out.  It's having PCMR, Deer Valley, and the Canyons close at hand, and Alta and Snowbird within a decent drive.  For a three-week trip in particular, I'd want some variety or a decent price on a season pass.  Deer Valley, in particular, is groomer heaven.


In Tahoe, if you want ski in/out with good groomers, you're probably looking at Squaw or Northstar.  I'm not sure that the groomers at either would keep me interested for three weeks, but if you think you might be willing to venture off them once you've got your legs back, I'd opt for Squaw.  However, I'd also bear in mind that Tahoe's snowpack can still be pretty weak in January.

post #10 of 21

I've been able to find very reasonable lodging at Snowmass, rates drop after the holidays and don't start going up til around the second week in February. Park City is also a very nice option, a little more low key than Aspen/Snowmass, but similar in the way that you have a lot of skiing to be had not far from your doorstep. The only problem I foresee would be the Sundance Film Festival that they have there every year around the third week in January. Lots of luck finding affordable lodging in that time frame, if you can find any at all.

post #11 of 21
Thread Starter 

You hit the nail on the head with the Sundance Festival; I found that out when I was email around for prices...  "Sir that is $125 per night the first two weeks; the third week is $525 a night!!!!!!!" ouch!


I really want to ski Colorado since I have already done the Utah thing.  I emailed some places in Snowmass today; we will see what they come back with.  Should I fly right into airport they have by Snowmass or take the drive from Denver in a rental or shuttle?


Thanks all


post #12 of 21

Either way can be a crapshoot. Flying into Aspen is convenient, just a short hop from Denver. But the airport at Aspen can be tricky to get in and out of, weather wise. There's no guarantee that you're going to get in and out on schedule. And the airfare is pricey. The drive from Denver is about 3 1/2 hours on a good day, but that again is weather dependent. Although it is a very nice drive, very scenic, but you'll have to pick your spots. You'll sit in traffic for hours if you try going out there on a Friday night. And the shuttles aren't immune to the weather, either. But, seeing how a car is really not necessary in the Aspen area, especially because of the parking situation in downtown Aspen, where a car is a real liability, the shuttle would probably be the most economical way to go. As far as lodging in Snowmass goes, there are some pricey condos and high end lodging, but you should be able to score some reasonably priced places to stay, such as the Stonebride Inn and Snowmass Inn. I would try the Wildwood Lodge. Not real high end, but a great location, clean and comfy, plus they have a great buffet breakfast that's included in the price. The most economical deal will usually be their ski and stay package that includes lift tickets. And they have been willing to negoiate their prices in the past. Booking early doesn't always mean that you're going to get the best price. All these places have their eye on the economy, and how it's effecting their bookings. If their early bookings are off, they will probably be more willing to wheel and deal. But I wouldn't just take the first price you find on their website. I have got myself some great deals by being persistant. If they don't offer you what you're willing to pay the first time, don't be afraid to tell them that you think you can do better than that, and you'll get back to them in a few weeks. January is typically a slow time for them, so they are very competetive for bookings. I find that the first price they quote me is seldom what I actually end up paying. You'd be surprised how many deals are out there if you're willing to put in the time to find them.

post #13 of 21

I might want to add that you may want to check out vrbo.com (vacation rentals by owners), a website where condo owners rent directly to interested parties without going through a middleman. Although a condo might not be as practical for a single person as say a typical hotel room at the Wildwood Inn, it might make sense if you were planning on having some friends stay with you from time to time.

post #14 of 21

I fly into Aspen (ASE) 6 or 7 times a winter.  Typically the best fares for January go on sale right after Thanksgiving. Depending on your gateway, you should be able to get in easily for under $400 and sometimes less than $300.

If you don't have any luck right into Aspen, you can always book a one way rental from Denver for $70 max.


Personally, I wouldn't stay in Snowmass if I was 29 and single.  Town has a lot more going on and the free shuttles work better from town.

post #15 of 21

Don't rule out Summit County.  I have spent 3 weeks there in February each of the last 3 winters.  A Breck/Keystone/ABasin pass was only $449 last year which sure beats $90+ day tickets.  Staying at either Breck or Keystone would meet your requirements and you have the option of a free bus to the others.  Copper would also work, but the village there is pretty quiet except on weekends.   

post #16 of 21
Thread Starter 
So many choices!!!!  I think I really need to lay down a budget and work backwards... it's so easy to say 3 weeks, hot tub, ski in/out, etc etc and pretty soon you are out $6K for lodging, $1000 in lift tickets and then you have flight, eating out, etc.  My max is $4K total so I think I need to lower my expectations on lodging and possibly shorten the trip to 2 weeks.

What's the most economical for lift tickets for 2 or 3 weeks?  Do I have to buy them per day or is there discounts for that long?

post #17 of 21
Let me rule out Tahoe for you. For three ski in-out week, I cannot see if that is possible at $4K in total. The hotels at base of Heavenly Gondola are not cheap, unless you are willing to walk a long way or driving. Besides, stay at Heavenly for three weeks will kill me.  Forget about NLT resorts Squaw or Northstar, their cost will be way over the budget.

How about buy an Epic Pass for $600 and ski one week at Heavenly and two weeks at Vail...?
post #18 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the feedback!  I have decided on 2 weeks to get back within my budget.  I found a condo in Aspen for $2500 for 2 weeks, so $178 per night on vrbo.com.  Seems like a killer deal for a 1b/1bath unit, has a hot tub, etc.  I found flights for ~$450.  What are lift tickets going to cost me?  I can ski all 4 mountains on the same lift ticket right?
post #19 of 21
Check with the folks from whom you are renting the condo. Sometimes they have access to discount tickets.
post #20 of 21

Aspen/Snowmass Classic Pass – Ski or ride for as low as $40 per day

The 7-Day Classic Pass gives holders seven days of skiing or snowboarding on any of the four area mountains - Snowmass, Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk - throughout the winter season with no restrictions for $274 and holders can add days at great discounts.  The same offer is available to youths (ages 7-17) and college students for $209. 

The 4-Day Classic Pass gives holders four days of skiing or riding for $169 for adults and $139 for youths/college students and holders can add days at great discounts.

The Aspen/Snowmass Classic Pass is a picture pass, and all new passes must be purchased in person at a specific sale location.  The pass will be available at locations throughout the Front Range, in Grand Junction and in the Roaring Fork and Eagle Valleys. Specific sale dates and locations will be announced in the fall. Online and phone renewals begin Aug. 4. 2007-2008 Classic Passholders can renew online or by phone by calling toll free 877-282-7736 or 970-923-1227. All passholders will be issued a new pass this year due to the conversion to a new ticketing system. One Classic Pass per person.  Passes are nontransferable and nonrefundable.  Children six and under ski free.  For recorded information, call the Aspen/Snowmass Classic Pass Hotline at 800-525-6200, x 4475.

post #21 of 21
My 2 cents... I went out to Utah for the first time this year.  I loved it.  If you are looking to set up shop for a few days or a week, I would recommend that.  Someone mentioned previously that Park City is great mosty because of the variety of resorts available within a few minutes.  If I was going back I would love to explore Snowbird for a few more days. 

Big Sky was also a great place to be for a few days.  I was riding for 3 full days and did not come close to being bored.  Plus the Lone Peak Brewery serves up some tasty beers.
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