One answer may be to ski on the east coast if taking lessons. Everything is cheaper, even if it's not 3 feet of powder. Beginners don't want powder anyway, machine groomed is what you need.
My daughter graduated from UF last December. Took the wife, daughter, and her BF to 7 Springs near Pittsburgh. Did a bunch of research and found it was much less to fly there and take lessons, rather than the mid west resorts. Everything worked out great. We took a lesson, $200 for 4 people, 2 hour lesson. The BF learned how to ski and came down a green trail that night. My web page talking about it is here.
The instructor was great and didn't bring up anything about tipping. At the end of the lesson he asked if we had any questions, we all said bye and that was it. We celebrated by drinking in the bar later, so the bar staff got something out of it.
I've taken lessons at Smuggler's notch, the Poconos, and 7 Springs and the instructors were great.
Going to Vail in a couple weeks, won't take any lessons out there, too expensive. Going to practice all the things I learned on the east coast.