Ski Travel Agents Answer Your Questions
Expert tips and advice on planning your ski vacation
Here are frequently asked questions answered by our experienced travel agents who specialize in planning winter mountain vacations.
You can contact them directly if you have any questions or concerns. Their priority is providing you with information and tips on how to plan your trip and have unforgettable memories from a well planed holiday.
We are prepared to help even experienced traveler with some specific questions.
Can I get a last minute reservation during the holidays?
Absolutely! The key to last minute availability is flexibility, as you may not be able to get all the items on your wish list, but you will be able to get out on the slopes.
Yes, you get a last minute reservation during the holidays, but you have to be flexible on location of property, ski destination or dates.
There are always reservations that fall out around the holidays, so it never hurts to try to secure one of these.
Yes, although you are much better off booking any holiday or high traffic weeks well in advance it is always possible to find a last minute cancellation or release of space. Flexibility within a date range is the key here.
Last minute reservations may be an easy way to get a reduced rate if a property is trying to fill some last minute bookings. It’s always a good idea to call an agent and ask about available last minute options.
Do ski resorts guarantee good snow conditions?
Snow conditions are up to Mother Nature. The resorts can supply man-made snow if the weather conditions permit. Again it’s our friend Mother Nature that controls this.
Yes, some resorts do offer snow guarantees, and it’s becoming more popular. Some leave it up to the customer to be subjective and decide whether or not the conditions meet their standards and others are more objective with the resort or property itself deciding whether the conditions are up to par. It’s important to understand and read the fine print regarding the resort’s guarantee.
“Good snow conditions” is a relative term. Typically if a ski area has less than a certain number of lifts open or less than 50% terrain open they will refund.
Ski resorts would love to guarantee good snow conditions but Mother Nature doesn’t allow for that type of commitment. Snow is most unpredictable in the beginning and towards the end of the season, but many resorts have snow making machines to assist with the snow quality.
Many resorts have state of the art snowmaking capability in this era of ski to increase the probability of skiable conditions. And many resorts will refund for no snow or a percentage of lifts not open.
How can I get free lodging?
Ask about BOGO (Buy One Get One) and Ski Free/Stay Free deals! Various resorts offer great specials for skiers/boarders that are able to book early. A select few resorts offer the opportunity to ski free on their arrival day (restrictions apply, of course.)
Some of the resorts offer free night stays when purchasing a set number of nights, every resort is different.
The Early Bird catches the worm here. The very best booking deals are available as early as May for the upcoming season. Waiting to book “last minute” deals not always the best tactic. That being said, there is almost always some sort of deal out there if you can be flexible with resort and dates of travel.
Free lodging may be offered with the purchase of a minimum night’s stay at many properties. Resorts offer this as an incentive for potential clients to book.
How can I ski free?
There are some packages with resorts that offer lift tickets when you purchase X number of lodging nights. Sometimes only one night.
Ski free options vary from resort to resort. Some offer free skiing upon your arrival date if you furnish a boarding pass from the same date. Others offer free skiing incentives to beginners or to those who book a minimum nights lodging. Many resorts require that you book your stay with one of the properties they manage or with a preferred partners.
Some resorts in France offer free lift passes to seniors over the age of 75.
Varies from resort to resort. Could be an early bird booking incentive, low season incentive or as simple as bringing your boarding pass to the lift window on your day of arrival.
Sometimes, early bird specials for low season dates include 1 free day of skiing
How do kids-ski-free deals work?
Kids ski free packages are tied together with lodging packets with their parents or family members.
Usually connected to the adult buying at least a 5 day ticket as offered in Steamboat Springs but could be associated with a particular promotion provided by a resort , a hotel property or even an airline.
Many resorts offer free skiing to children under a certain age generally 5 or 6 years old (some requires age verification) others can go as high as 12. Ski Utah offers a 5th and 6th graders free skiing via their passport to encourage youngsters to ski.
Certain ski areas offer kids 12 & under ski free with a paying adult.
How early can I book a ski vacation?
In some places up to a year in advance.
Booking a trip can be done at any time, but lodging rates and lift rates are normally not set till late summer. All resorts differ.
It’s never too early to book a ski vacation. Many resorts and properties offer incentives to book early with discounts on lift tickets, lodging or amenities.
Hotels are much easier to book early but I have been able to arrange a package a year prior to travel for clients.
Some resorts will honor present year’s rates for the following year if paid in full when booking.
Usually 11 months in advance.
How many people do I need on my trip to rent a house?
One! While there are limits to how many people a house can sleep, and be in accordance with fire safety regulations, there is typically not a minimum number of people necessary for a property rental. (European reservations being different.) If you are looking to save money, sharing a house with another person/couple/family is a great option.
House rental guest numbers vary from resort to resort and what you are willing to pay to have a house to yourselves.
Group sizes vary from home to home. Some smaller homes and condos may sleep form 2 to 4 adults. Other larger home may comfortably sleep 18 to 20 people.
You can actually book a house for yourself if you wanted to.
As little as 4 and up to as many as 30 people in some of the European Chalets we offer.
A lot of the private Residences have 4-8 Bedrooms that sleep 10 – 20 people.
Is a hotel less expensive than a condo?
Not necessarily – It all depend upon location to the slopes and quality of the hotel or condo, as well as amenities offered.
All depends on the total number of people divided into the price. With 4 adults in one condo versus 2 hotel rooms scenario, the condo will most likely price better. I can easily check which works best for you and your family.
Not necessarily. It will all depend on the location, quality level, and room type.
Condos have the option of being able to prepare some of your own meals, where hotels do not offer this and this can save money.
Condos may actually be a less expensive option then a standard hotel stay. Most do not offer the amenities of maid service and valet parking, but, do not charge a resort fee. Cooking in can also be a way a family can save some extra money while on vacation as many hotel rooms do not offer kitchens.
This would depend on which two properties you are comparing.
Usually not, since daily housekeeping, Breakfast, front desk staff etc is included.
Is going on a ski vacation in the spring less expensive?
Spring skiing is fun and is generally less expensive (many resorts consider Spring “low” or “shoulder” season, which means a great deal for anyone looking to tear up the slopes!) Skiers/Boarders should be cautioned that they are at the mercy of the snow-gods for late skiing conditions.
Spring skiing can be some of the very best skiing of the entire season. Sunny days, concerts, events and spring break draw a ton of skiers in the month of March. April skiing always brings fantastic offers. The weather patterns the last 3 to 4 seasons have offered great snow and deals, deals, deals. Do note Mother Nature can always change her mind. If you have April in mind and are flexible it could be advisable to wait and make this a last minute trip based on conditions.
Spring skiing does have many offers at various resorts and prices to reflect this.
Ski vacations in the spring may be less expensive if you book early. Many resorts offer discounts to those who book in the fall. Also, if you book your stay after the busy spring break period additional discounts may be available.
Yes, low season rates often start in early/mid March
No, March, which is considered Spring is high season because most schools are out for Spring Break. Normally late March and into April it is less expensive.
Is mid-week ski vacation a lot less expensive than one that includes the weekend?
It can be depending on the property. Some offer discounts for Sunday-Thursday stays.
Usually the answer is no when it comes to lodging, but it is true that some resorts can fill up on weekends if they are close to local markets where locals ski on weekends. Also, weekends can be tough when looking at air, and once the availability becomes limited, then sure the price will go up. Often, a mid-week ski vacation can cost less but it doesn’t mean always.
Sometimes yes and sometimes no. It should be noted that for those wanting to enjoy the beautiful European resorts many only work within a Saturday-Saturday or Sunday-Sunday time frame.
Mid-week over weekend really depends on the time of year. Mid-week tend to have more offers than weekend.
Yes, mid-week ski vacations may be less expensive than one that includes the weekend. Often flights, hotels and many times lift tickets are cheaper in the week opposed to the busier weekends.
If the resort is a “drive” market like Breckenridge for example, properties will reward you for arrival Sunday and departing before the weekend. In Europe, they require a weekend date arrival and they only discount for low seasons not days the of week. Is ski in/out worth the extra money?
No all, but some properties add a weekend surcharge.
Is ski-in/ski-out worth the extra money?
I would advise you based on the age and ability of your party and of course the specific resort. Some resorts have private guest shuttles which offer easier and quicker access to the slopes. In this case I would not pay the extra for staying slope side. If the lift is literally out the back door of the hotel like the Borders in Beaver Creek, the Viceroy in Snowmass or the Club Med in Val Morel there is nothing better.
If you are a die-hard get on the slopes as soon as possible then, yes! Things to consider before splurging: – Is the ski-run a match to your skiing/boarding ability? A ski-in/out home on a black run isn’t worth the extra money for a beginning skier/boarder. – Will everyone in the party benefit from the ski in/out location? If the kids are in ski school and it is more convenient to drive/shuttle then you may be better off in a walk in/out or shuttle location that is closer to ski school or downtown.
If you like to be able to walk out from your accommodations and be right on the mountain, yes. It also gives you the option to ski more and break more often if you want.
Ski-in / Ski-out can be worth the extra money depending on age and ability of your group. If you are with a group of novice skiers it may be worth the extra money to minimize hassle and locate accommodations near the ski school. It’s can also make for convenient trips to the restroom, lunch, or to shed that extra layer.
To some, it definitely is, for others being in the center of the resort has more appeal.
Not in my opinion. I don’t mind taking a 5-10 minute bus shuttle ride to the lifts.
Should I get trip insurance?
This is one of my favorite questions to answer because I have seen the need for travel insurance so many times, that now most of my clients will tell me from the beginning what their ski request entails and travel insurance is just as important as their lodging choice. So it takes a small amount of money for the protection that can come in handy for so many of the unexpected events that can happen regarding sickness, injury, and even death in the family before or during travel. The answer is yes.
I always do when I travel and I highly recommend it to all my clients. To me, trip insurance offers protection in the event of flight delays, cancellations due to weather, or if there are any accidents on the slopes (among many other things). You take out car insurance for protection when you drive, why not protect yourself and your vacation?
Yes. There is always uncertainty of weather, accidents and health; things happen when we are least expecting it. Travel insurance provides vacationer’s monetary compensation should an unfortunate event take place. People spend a lot of money and time planning a vacation this allows them to recoup some of that.
Absolutely. Ski vacations are a big investment and you want to be protected. Not only does it cover you for accidents/illness but severe weather delays. During the holiday dates this is especially important. Due to the oversold nature of flights during these weeks it could be days until the airline is able to get you on another flight. In the meantime you are paying in full for your trip even though you are not there to enjoy it. It is especially important for those traveling to Europe or South America. Even a minor injury on the slopes could call for an extensive evacuation.
This is always a good idea as you can’t tell what will happen in the future, and if something happens to prevent you from going on your vacation this may allow you to recover the cost.
Yes, you have a lot invested in your ski vacation and the unforeseen can always pop up. Someone gets sick, a broken bone, airline travel delays, accident on the way to the airport, or any number of things can go wrong.
Should I take my skis or rent?
This is a great question and the answer depends on the client’s equipment. If it’s old equipment, then renting is the better choice. By the time one pays the airlines to bring their equipment, rental has been halfway paid for. The rental companies have the latest and best equipment for the conditions. That’s my main reason for loving to rent. Also, we now use many companies that will deliver the equipment and can fit our clients at their lodging, so the wait in line method at the ski rental store is no longer the most efficient way to pick up skis. The prices are competitive so it just makes sense. Having said all of this, my latest adventure made me wish I had at least my own boots. Having a good pair of boots that fit well and don’t hurt the shins and feet has to be the absolute most important aspect of skiing that I know of. So my advice is bring your own boots and rent if you are not that happy with your own equipment.
This is a very personal decision. Traveling with equipment is not as easy as it used to be and it is worth looking into rental equipment. If you don’t want to take your equipment because it is too much of a hassle or maybe it is a short trip I recommend renting. For those that are advanced/expert think of it as an opportunity to rent equipment that is hot on the market (a.k.a. demo equipment). It is like renting a car that you want to buy but a) want to test it out first or b) can’t afford it but still want the experience.
Renting is the best way to go. You will get the latest and greatest equipment on the market. Now, if you have a pair of ski boots that fit you perfectly and you love them, by all means bring your boots – that’s what I do.
With the increasing cost of baggage fees and the availability of state of the art skis and snowboards in every resort, it only makes sense to rent. You will be able to change out your equipment daily or hourly if you want as the conditions change. What could be better?
Renting gives you the option of trying the newest equipment available and is less of a hassle unless you are driving to a resort.
Renting skis is always a great option for the ski traveler. With the hassle and additional cost of bringing your own gear it can actually be easier to rent. Many gear shops offer in room fittings for boots and skis, as well as top of the line demo equipment.
With the cost of taking your skis on a plane many people are opting for renting. This allows you to try out a pair of skis you are considering purchasing.
Due to high luggage fees with most airlines, I recommend to rent skis.
What are the cheapest days to stay at a ski resort?
When most resorts open for the season is the best time to grab early deals.
Early November to mid- December, most of January and April.
The cheapest skiing dates often fall in the very beginning of the season (before the holiday rush) or at the end of the season when resorts are offering incentive for skier visits. Those wishing to book a trip at a bargain will want to avoid major holidays and those dates falling over school breaks.
Mid-week in early December and January
What is the difference between a package and a deal or offer?
A package is the bundling of 2 or more travel products (i.e. buying lodging, transportation, lift tickets, and travel insurance together). A deal or offer is a discount given on just one travel product. The benefit to buying through wholesalers is that in packaging travel products together a client can save over purchasing travel products individually. Plus a travel expert is up to date on the savings and specials available and can better maximize the savings for their client both in dollars spent on the trip, and time searching for all the deals.
Packages tend to include more options than deals or offers.
Packages are offered collectively with discounts on air/ground transportation, accommodations and activities i.e. skiing, snowshoeing… A traveler benefits with a package by the collective bargaining weight that a wholesaler is able to propose to potential contractors. A deal or offer is a bargain that is offered to a part of a trip not the trip as a whole.
When are the peak seasons?
Christmas/New Years, President’s Weekend, and Spring Break are the most common. For the Utah resorts, Sundance Film Festival (January) is considered a peak part of the season.
Third week of December to first week of January. Mid Feb to end of March, typically again depending on resort.
Peak seasons are the 2 week period over Christmas and New Year’s, Presidents Week, and most of March.
All the holidays and Spring Break.
Peak season in relation to a ski areas are the dates falling over major holidays and school breaks ie… the Christmas/New Year’s week, Presidents Day, MLK. Peak times may also vary dependent on special events ie… Sundance Film Festival, X-Games, ski competitions. During peak season consumers should expect to pay a premium for their vacation and will most likely be encounter minimum night stay requirements.
Christmas, New Years, school vacations.
Peak/High Season are the Xmas/New Years Holidays, Martin Luther King and President’s Week as well as Spring Break.
When do prices drop?
Prices are typically low season between Thanksgiving when the most mountains open until Dec 20, then again the last week of March or first week of April until the end of the season mid to late April.
At the start of the season (early) and then again at the end of the season.
Prices typically are lower toward the beginning of the season and just before the end. Resorts often adjust their prices to encourage room nights/skier visits during the times when crowds are smaller and conditions may not necessarily be at their best.
Set for the entire season, in some cases.
Many resorts start to lower their pricing in March.
When do the prices go up?
Prices will typically drop after the New Year, they will go up again around the President’s Day Weekend and then taper back down. Prices drop into “low” season towards the end of March. Most ski resorts close around the 2nd or 3rd week of April.
Prices are at their peak the two weeks over Christmas/New Years. Then they are at high season mid-February thru the end of March.
Holidays see higher rates.
Prices generally go up throughout the season and taper off at the end. They mirror peak season.
Holidays school vacations. In Europe in February is mostly high season.
When is the best time to book a deal?
The best time to book a deal is in the summer for winter holidays in Europe, Canada and U.S.—some of the best promos will expire by end of July. The promos will still be available but not at the steepest discounts. People who get the best deals have booked their trips by August.
The Early Bird catches the worm here. The very best booking deals are available as early as May for the upcoming US/Canadian season. You can get up to 40% off to book in early summer. For South America trips you can get approximately 30% off to book from January to March for their summer ski season.
Book early!!! Contrary to popular belief, waiting until the last minute is not the best time to book a deal. Lots of resorts offer ski free/stay free deals, early booking rates (or book by rates), and other steals for people who will book early.
Early and late in the season. There are some last minute deals that do pop up at some resorts.
Early is the best time to book a deal. Resorts offer discounts to those who book as early as September or October event into early November. Though risky adventure seekers may be able to find a last minute deal late in the season, early is always best. When booking early a traveler will be able to take full advantage of deep discounts with maximum available accommodation.
between May – August
Why is it less expensive to buy a packaged ski vacation?
Alpine has contracted wholesale pricing with all our vendors and can pass these savings onto you. It is my job to then custom your package specifically to your needs and budget by finding the very best offers available for your dates. Talk to an expert and save yourself hours trying to match you and your family to the best resort and property. I have been there, skied there, stayed there and am happy to share my expertise with you.
More options are include with reduced lodging, lift, lessons.
It’s less expensive to buy a packaged ski vacation because Alpine Adventures and wholesalers have a direct relationship with all of the major resorts, airlines, ground transportation. They can also sift through the sometimes overwhelming amount of options saving time and keeping in mind a client’s budget.
Some ski resorts offer lower ski pass rates when booking lodging as well through the same supplier.
We get better rates with our vendors by packaging components together.
Why should I buy a package instead of buying everything myself?
It saves you time and money searching for the individual components. Our expert knowledge of the ski areas ensures that we will match you exactly with the ski vacation you desire.
Buying a packaged ski vacation saves you both time and money. Let your expert agent put everything together for you, after all it’s their job is to know the who, what, when, and where of all things ski. So while your ski expert is planning your ski adventure (and saving you money), you can go do more fun things – like buying a new ski jacket or mapping out your apres ski route.
We have contracted wholesale pricing with all our vendors and can pass these savings onto you. It is my job to then custom your package specifically to your needs and budget by finding the very best offers available for your dates. Talk to an expert and save yourself hours trying to match you and your family to the best resort and property. I have been there, skied there, stayed there and am happy to share my expertise with you.
You could miss out on a lodging offer, lift offer or lesson offer. There may also be an option that you would not think about.
Buying a package offers special pricing and discounts to clients that are available exclusively to Alpine Adventures. Their extensive knowledge, experience and expertise can help save not only money but time planning. While providing a seamless experience. A package also has the benefit of having all of your itinerary and travel plans all in one place.
If you work with Alpine Adventures you have someone to contact should something arise and you need assistance. If you book on your own there is no one to call.
Knowledge about the destination/lodging & price specials, assistance before and during the trip.
I want to bring my dog. Are there any properties that allow pets?
Yes, some hotels will allow dogs and most charge a pet fee. There are a small number of condos that allow pets. It just depends on the area; it’s something we would have to research for you.