Friday, September 26, 2008

Best Early Season Ski Deals

Hard to believe, but the green leaves are turning autumn colors -- and the snow is falling already on some mountaintops. Time to start planning your winter ski trip. Where to travel this season?

The question really is when to go skiing to get the best deals. And the answer to that is easy -- early season offers some of the best bargains, and, the slopes, restaurants and hotels are not yet over-flowing with holiday crowds. Here are some great deals that will save you green dollars --

Winter Park, Colorado -- Save 25% on stays of four nights or longer if you book by October 12, 2008. Packages start at $143 per person per night, including a lift ticket. There's an enormous variety of terrain here for any level of skier --novices and others who like long cruising runs will be happy on Vasquez Ridge. I, for one, like to challenge my knees and my self-confidence on the black diamond runs of Mary Jane mountain, where I skied myself into more than one embarrassing splat last season.

Beaver Creek, Colorado -- Technique Weeks are an intensive improvement program, with lots of personalized instruction. The program includes four days of lift tickets interchangeable for Vail and Beaver Creek, the ability to demo 2009 skis and boots, lots of meals and cocktail parties, four days of instruction and a DVD that shows how much you improved and how much fun you had. If you book by Nov. 15, 2008, you also get an Epic Season Pass -- this would cost you $579 if you bought it. The pass gives you an epic choice (okay, pardon the pun) of unlimited skiing at five memorable mountains -- Vail, Keystone, Beaver Creek and Breckenridge in Colorado and Heavenly in Lake Tahoe. Technique Week reservations can be made through the Hyatt Beaver Creek.

Lake Tahoe -- No more excuses. If you've ever wanted to learn to ski or snowboard, or wanted your significant other or best buddy to join you on the slopes, head for North Lake Tahoe the weekend of December 13 and 14 for the 9th Annual Learn to Ski and Board Weekend. For just $25, you get an all-day beginner lift ticket, group lesson and gear rental. Just $25. That's about what it would cost to stay home and do nothing except a movie with popcorn and soda. And you can choose any of nine resorts to learn at -- including Alpine Meadows, Boreal Mountain Resort, Diamond Peak, Granlibakken, Homewood Mountain Resort, Mt. Rose-Ski Tahoe, Northstar-at-Tahoe, Squaw Valley USA and Sugar Bowl. Reservations are not required, but plan to show up early. Buy tickets at the resort you choose to spend the day playing in the snow.