The flexible freelancer
You work a lot, but your main requirements are a laptop and good internet connection. Carving out a week — or even two — for a winter sports getaway isn’t entirely out of the question. Take advantage of the time and flexibility you have to get the biggest bang for your buck.
Consider getting a pass
A one-day lift pass right after Christmas at Big Bear Mountain Resort in California will run you nearly $90. A season pass, on the other hand, will cost $399. If you plan to ski for more than four or five days during the winter season, buying a pass makes sense.
And you don’t have to be locked into just one resort. If you’re looking for some variety in your skiing, there are also multi-mountain passes available, the largest of which are offered by Epic Pass ($949) and Ikon Pass ($1,049). Both passes grant unlimited access to some of the finest skiing on the continent. Ikon Pass lets you ski as much as you want at Winter Park, Steamboat and Mammoth, among other resorts. Epic Pass grants unlimited skiing at Vail, Whistler Blackcomb and Park City, among others. A more curated pass, Mountain Collective, grants two days each at 17 locations across North America, including Alta, Snowbird and Mammoth ($469).
Consider lesser-known resorts
Sure: Stowe, Telluride and Snowmass are splashy names that everyone in the skiing community has heard of. They’re not, however, particularly cheap. According to a study conducted by the website HomeToGo, the average cost of a day of skiing — including equipment, lift ticket and accommodation, is nearly $450 per person at Aspen Snowmass. At Afton Alps, however, a more modest resort on the Minnesota-Wisconsin border, the cost is less than half that: only $179. (It’s worth noting that the P.A.F., or Pure Awesomeness Factor, from Z Rankings, a way to measure the quality of a ski resort, is 87.5 at Snowmass and just 27.9 at Afton Alps.) Look into locations you may not have considered, like Mount Hood in Oregon or Mount Baker in Washington, for more affordable skiing.
In general, though, bargain hunters should look north to Canada. Near Vancouver at Whistler Blackcomb, one of the largest and most well-regarded ski resorts in North America, the price of a day of skiing is just $234 — much less than many of the big Colorado or Utah resorts. And at Fernie Alpine Resort, about three hours south of Calgary, the deals are even better. I searched for a five-night holiday in January for two people, and the total came out to around $150 per night, per person — that includes lodging, lift tickets and equipment rental for five straight days.
A ski vacation is unlikely to be a steal, no matter how you look at it. But with the right approach, you can avoid putting too much of a freeze on your finances.
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