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Byline: Daily News and Wire Services

You don't have to spend a mountain of moola for a ski or snowboard vacation. Even the toniest resorts cut deals for folks who are flexible and do their homework.

Ski areas, hotels and even airlines have their own version of the white sale. It's just a matter of finding the vacation package that best suits your needs.

A few questions to consider first:

How much vacation can you afford? And what are you willing to skimp on? Aspen's $59-a-day lift ticket is steep, but that doesn't mean it's out of reach for the budget traveler. Plan to ski one day with the stars at Aspen, then high-tail it to one of Colorado's many small resorts such as Sunlight in Glenwood Springs, where lift prices are $28.

How much do you plan to ski? Multiday lift tickets may save you money, but not if a day goes unused. The same is true for packages that include a multiday ticket. If you plan to try other winter sports, look for packages where your lift ticket can be exchanged for a day of snowmobiling or dog-sledding. Ask about rates that provide for fewer skiing days.

Is breakfast included? If so, it can save you as much as $15 per person a day.

How far is the lodging from the lifts? Salt Lake City hotel packages look great if you look at the bottom line, but only if you're willing to commute two hours each day.

Will staying in a condo save money? It can if you don't mind cooking most of your meals. Just don't go overboard with the amenities. Do you really need a fireplace? When evaluating ski and snowboarding packages, our aim was to keep lift and lodging expenses to about $70 per day. Packages that appear preciously priced may reflect premium accommodations, service or convenience.

Best early deals

The best-priced deals typically are found early in the season, from first snow until mid-December, and late in the season, mid-March to closing day in April. The trade-off is that you take your chances on snow conditions.

Unless otherwise specified, all prices are per person based on double occupancy, and air fare is not included.

Here are some deals we liked:

An early/late-season value package is available at Whistler/Blackcomb in British Columbia. Three-day deals start at $210 for lift and lodging and are good Nov. 21-Dec. 18 and April 5-25. Call (800) 944-7853.

The ``First Tracks'' program at Steamboat in Colorado offers a three-day lift ticket and four nights' lodging starting at $225. The package is available Nov. 21-Dec. 19. Call (800) 922-2722.

At Winter Park, the closest ski area to Denver, three nights' lodging, a two-day lift ticket, breakfast, shaped ski rental and admission to a carve clinic costs $214, based on double occupancy in motel, through Dec. 19. Call (800) 729-5813.

At Sun Valley, Idaho, a special Thanksgiving package, good Nov. 26-30, includes four nights' lodgings, a three-day lift ticket and a Thanksgiving dinner buffet starting at $222 per person, double occupancy. Call (800) 786-8259.

Heavenly at Lake Tahoe offers a three-night, two-day package that includes hotel and ski lift tickets or horseback riding for $159 per person, double occupancy, midweek. Also offered is a three-day, four-night package for $239 per person, double occupancy, that includes daily breakfast, an introductory mountain tour and three days' skiing. Call (800) 243-2836.

Alpine Meadows at Lake Tahoe offers a ``Bed and Boards'' package, good from opening day through Dec. 19 and again after April 1, that include a night's lodging and an adult lift ticket starting at $59. Call (800) 949-3296.

Northstar-at-Tahoe offers the ``Families Stay & Ski Free'' package, available Nov. 21-Dec. 18 and again March 29 through mid-April, for as low as $66 per person per day for a family of four. The offer is subject to availability. Sunday through Thursday nights. Call (800) 466-6784.

Fetchin(g) offer

It is a bit of a drive from the beautiful Fetchin Inn in downtown Taos, N.M., to the slopes of Taos Ski Area, but this hotel has a great deal for downhillers. Its ``Ski Taos'' package includes three nights' lodging, lift tickets and daily breakfast for $199 per person, double occupancy. Call (800) 811-2933.

The Inn at Snakedance, slopeside at Taos Ski Valley in New Mexico, offers an all-inclusive package featuring seven nights' lodging, all meals, a six-day lift ticket and six morning group lessons starting at $885. Call (800) 322-9815.

Elegant Spring Creek Resort in Jackson, Wyo., offers an early-season ski package good from early December through Dec. 20. The ``Ski Free'' deal is priced at $120 per room per night for a deluxe room with fireplace, daily breakfast and two lift tickets per day good at Jackson Hole or Grand Targhee ski areas. Call (800) 443-6139 or visit the hotel's Web site at

In Utah, Cedar Breaks Lodge at the base of Brian Head's Navajo Peak is having a ``Winter White Sale.'' The recently renovated hotel offers four nights' lodging, daily breakfast and a three-day lift ticket starting at $319. The sale price is good through April 15. Cedar Breaks also boasts a full-service day spa. Call (888) 282-3327.

Historic Hotel Jerome in Aspen, Colo., gets in on the early season campaign with its ``Ski Early, Ski Free'' deal. The package, good through Dec. 17, features a deluxe room, two lift tickets for Aspen or Snowmass and transportation to and from the Aspen Airport for $199 per room per night, subject to availability. The package requires a two-night minimum stay. Call (800) 331-7213.

In Colorado, Club Med Copper Mountain has seven-night packages starting at $1,470 that include accommodations, three meals daily, lift tickets, ski instruction with video analysis, racing instruction, snowboard instruction, aerobic classes, use of saunas and hot tubs and nightly entertainment. Club Med also has special programs for children ages 3-17. Call (800) 258-2633.

Closer to home, Northwoods Resort at Big Bear offers a $69 per person per night ``Alpine Adventure'' ski package available Sunday through Thursday, subject to availability, throughout ski season. Based on double occupancy, it includes overnight lodgings, breakfast, free parking and a full day's lift ticket at Bear Mountain or Snow Summit. Call (800) 866-3121.

If you want to ski without paying resort prices, consider one of the 41 Hostelling International-American Youth Hostels for overnight accommodations. Overnight fees at hostels in top ski areas range from $7 to $25 per person per night, with dormitory-style lodgings (separate rooms for males and females) for travelers of all ages. Most have fully equipped kitchens and dining areas. For price information and a free list of ski area hostels, call (202) 783-6161.

Call the resorts

Ski resorts also put together packages that may include air fare as well as lodging and lift tickets. Contact the ski areas' central reservations offices about availability. Rates will vary.

You'll get your best deals if you take along your friends and don't mind bunking up.

Try Breckenridge's Central Reservations at (800) 800-2732, Copper Mountain Lodging Services at (800) 458-8386, Ext. 1, Winter Park Central Reservations' ``Discover Skiing and Snowboarding'' package at (800) 729-5813 and an ``economy'' package from Aspen Central Reservations at (888) 290-1325.

Save at school

Look for money-saving deals at ski schools, too. Many resorts offer specials for never-ever skiers or snowboarders, and most resorts offer discounts for multiday lessons. Also ask about discounts on rental equipment for ski schoolers.

Winter Park's Learn for Free program is marking its third season. First-time skiers or snowboarders can get a free three-hour lesson with the purchase of an all-day adult lift ticket Jan. 5-31. Follow-up lessons on the second and third days are just $15. Call the ski school at (970) 726-1551.

At Angel Fire in New Mexico, a ``Beginner's Special'' ski package provides equipment, a full-day lesson and beginner area lift ticket for $60. Call (800) 633-7463.

Silver Creek Resort in Colorado has how-to winter sports workshops with instruction scheduled for women only: downhill skiing (one day), Jan. 3 and 31, Feb. 7 and March 7, $60; downhill skiing (two days), Jan. 24 and 25, Feb. 21-22, March 21-22, $190; snowboarding (one day), Jan. 10, Feb. 28, March 28, $60; cross-country skiing and snowshoeing (one day), Jan. 17, Feb. 14, March 14, $38. Call (800) 448-9458.

And you can't beat free. At Northstar-at-Tahoe in California, upper intermediate and advanced skiers and snowboarders can attend free 1-3/4-hour on-mountain clinics covering such topics as bumps, powder and freestyle riding. The lessons begin on the hour between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily and are open to teen-agers and adults on a first-come, first-served basis. A lift ticket is required. Call (916) 562-1010.

Catch some air

Just like the hotels and resorts, airlines also package ski vacations.

For example, American Airlines offers a ``Snow and Ski'' adventure available at 23 resorts in the United States and Canada. Call (800) 321-2121 for details.

Swissair invites Americans on an ``Alpine Experience'' for prices starting at $875. Packages include round-trip air fare from New York, Newark, N.J., or Boston, seven nights' lodging, breakfast daily and ground transfers. For a brochure detailing Swiss Air Ski holidays, call (800) 662-0021, Ext. 31.Information: (800) 688-7947.

Select from ski resorts in New Mexico, Utah, Nevada and Colorado when you go with Southwest Airlines Vacations. Packages start at $169 and include air fare, accommodations, ground transportation and lift tickets. Call (800) 423-5683 or visit the airline's Internet site at

Amtrak offers low-cost, three- to five-day ski packages in conjunction with tour operators in Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Vermont and New York. Packages start at $299 and include rail travel, transportation to the slopes, lift tickets and lodgings. For ski-rail package information, call (800) 872-7245.

Deals for young and old

Always look for deals if you are taking along the children. Although most claim to cater to families, some ski areas are more family-friendly than others.

For example, at Squaw Valley in California, children 12 and younger ski for just $5. A lift ticket for ages 13-15 costs $24 a day.

Nearby, Alpine Meadows has chopped lift rates to $10 for children ages 7-12. And your child can ski free at Steamboat in Colorado when you purchase a lift ticket good for five days or more; the offer is good for one free child per paid adult.


2 Photos

Photo: (1--Color) At some resorts, you can ski without spending a mountain of money.

(2) Some mountain ski areas offer night skiing, as well as classes, clinics and special lodging packages.
COPYRIGHT 1997 Daily News
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Title Annotation:TRAVEL
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Nov 9, 1997

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