Ski season is suddenly upon us—Killington, Vermont, and Sunday River, Maine, just opened for the season—and you know what that means: Prices will only go up from here, as early-season deals vaporize and resorts book up for the winter holidays. Now’s the time to grab your calendar, pinpoint when you can hit the slopes—hopefully sometime other than Christmas Week and Presidents’ Week, when you’ll pay peak-season prices—and then seek out the best deals. Here are seven ways to find them:
- Look for early-season and late-season discounts.
The biggest early-season savings came and went in August, but there are still big deals available (30% off is typical) as long as you book by mid-November. At Telluride, for instance, you can lock in the best rates if you book by November 20—and if you buy a package and later the price drops, they’ll reduce your price to match. After the madness of the winter holidays is over, you’ll see late-season deals pop up for spring break and April.
- Go in early January.
After early season and late season, the biggest window of value at ski resorts falls between the New Year’s holiday weekend and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day weekend. This year that’s approximately January 4-16. January is also Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month. On websites such as Colorado Ski Country, you’ll find all manner of deals on lift tickets, lessons, and ski rentals, especially in January.
- Focus on ski resorts near major airports.
You can cut down on expenses significantly when the slopes are just an easy bus or shuttle ride from a hub such as Denver or Salt Lake City. There are seven ski mountains within a 45-minute drive of Salt Lake City. In fact, if your only window for skiing is the peak Christmas/New Year’s period, and slopeside accommodations are sold out or too pricey, you might consider booking an inexpensive hotel in Salt Lake City (those that cater to business travelers are empty that week) and enjoy a different mountain each day.
- Friend and follow your favorite ski destinations on social media.
Facebook and Twitter are where ski resorts tend to offer flash deals on lift tickets and ski packages. It’s worth “liking” Ski.com on Facebook too: They run monthly ski-vacation sweepstakes (like this October one for Jackson Hole) featuring resort packages that include lift tickets and sometimes flights and ski rental too.
- If you’ve got a group, think vacation rental.
By renting a large condo or private home and sharing it with friends or family, you can save considerably on lodging costs. Ski.com offers many packages that combine condos with lift tickets—such as this Park City deal that gives you your fourth night and third day free.
- If you can do more than one ski trip this winter, consider a multi-resort pass.
You can enjoy a variety of ski destinations at a big discount via the right pass. The Mountain Collective pass, for instance, gives you two days at each of 11 resorts located around the U.S. and Canada; it can shave your lift-ticket costs to as little as $30 per day.
- If you’re a family, look for kids-ski-free deals.
Many resorts offer them. At Steamboat Springs, for instance, there are Kids Ski Free programs enabling children 12 and under to ski free the same number of days as their parents or grandparents. At Aspen Snowmass, each day you rent equipment for your kids (ages 7-12), they get a free lift ticket—all season long. Other resorts that offer free ski days for kids include Arapahoe Basin, Keystone, and Whistler Blackcomb.
For more travel deals, go to WendyPerrin.com.