It’s a common dilemma for vacationing families: Should they book their ski vacation early, or hold out with the hope of cashing in on a last minute bargain? I already have my reservations for February, and Colorado ski vacation planners agree, earlier is always better, and below are five reasons why.
1.) Budget-friendly Offers for Early Bookers
Ski areas are a lot like grandparents: They can’t wait to hear when guests are coming, and they want to know how many people they’re bringing with them. The resorts of Colorado Ski Country USA (CSCUSA) offer a slew of incentives for booking early, including discounted lift and lodging packages, and even promotions for saving money on airfare and travel.
Further savings can be had by working with resorts’ in-house vacation planning professionals. “The value of working with a local vacation expert at one of Colorado’s many central reservations operators can reap many rewards,” advises Bill Tomcich, president of Stay Aspen Snowmass. “They have access to inventory that may not exist online, and have relationships with the properties that no website or online travel agency could ever establish. They have the ability to seek out holes that properties are looking to fill and can often negotiate special rates while over-riding minimum stay requirements for guests who are flexible, all while providing a personalized level of service that could never be emulated online.”
2.) Make a Down Payment on Family Fun
Ski areas operate much like airlines: The earlier the reservation, the better the bargain. Guests planning on an extended stay may save money by purchasing a season pass or other multi-day lift ticket product. Most ski areas offer the lowest price on a season pass and other lift ticket packages during the spring of the prior season, summer and fall months.
A few resorts even allow skiers and snowboarders to make a down payment on a season pass, locking in the lowest price of the season. Programs like this allow guests and their families several months to set aside money for the ski and snowboard vacation they’ve always dreamed of taking.
In addition, ski areas often offer season pass holders numerous additional incentives such as discounted lessons, equipment rentals, lodging packages, and even promotions with other local businesses.
Another way ski areas are like airlines is in the savings of online purchasing. Whether guests are looking for a season pass or a seven day pass, purchases made in advance and online will likely bring the greatest savings. Walking up to a ski resort lift ticket window to buy a multi day lift ticket starting that day would be like walking up to an airline counter and buying a plane ticket on the day of travel.
3.) The Early Bird Gets the Worm they Want
The more in advance guests book their ski vacation, the more choice they’ll have on lodging properties. It’s hard to find an unsuitable room at a ski area, but booking early means vacationers can request a room just a few steps from the slopes, or on a bus line, or an end unit. “Planning and booking your Colorado vacation lodging and activities such as lift tickets, lessons, equipment rental, child care, and tubing in advance will assure your activities are confirmed for the days and times you want and will often net substantial savings as well,” says Sue Neumann, director of Winter Park Central Reservations.
Guests will also have more options for flight departure and arrival times and seating choices. By booking early, skiers and snowboarders can ensure they get a room in their favorite hotel, their kids are enrolled in lessons or day care, and they can even secure a reservation at their favorite restaurant.
4.) Vacation Timing Makes A Difference
For families with kids, vacations are normally predicated by school breaks and work holidays, so deciding when to take a ski trip is easy. However, it’s important to keep in mind that there are many other families also on school break and work holiday and who are also planning to visit the mountains during this same period.
To circumvent the masses, consider an off-peak ski vacation. “There are certain times during the ski season when the perfect vacation is there for the taking,” says Jill Higgins, director of Crested Butte Vacations. “Early in the season, just after the New Year’s holiday, and late spring are all great times to come ski because any crowds are gone, snow is plentiful and options open up for flights and lodging at a great value.”
5.) Something the Whole Family Can Look Forward To
Having a Colorado ski vacation marked on the calendar is almost better than having presents under the tree. The whole family can savor the anticipation by counting the days until they are all sliding together in the Rocky Mountain splendor. “We make it easy for families by helping them arrange as many details ahead of time so they don’t have to think about it later,” says Tyler Silvernail, director of reservations at Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort. “We arrange everything from lodging, lessons and rentals, to childcare and dog sledding. The more activities booked in advance, the less hassle it is to plan last minute at the resort when activities may be already booked.”
In addition, by booking early guests leave themselves plenty of time to plan what they need to pack and what gear they might need. They also have time to research various destination options by reading reviews and browsing resort guides and websites. Colorado’s ski resorts encourage skiers and snowboarders across the globe to book their vacations now and put a picture of the ski area they plan to visit on their refrigerator to remind themselves and their families and friends of the good times to come.
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