Times have changed, as has the cost of skiing. It no longer costs $15 for a lift ticket, but there are lots of ways to save if you get a little creative. Here are our tips on how to stretch your dollar to the max, so you can have the maximum amount of fun on your Winter Park ski trip.
Use our EasySki service. This ski season, guests of Winter Park Lodging Company will be greatly rewarded with convenience and low lift ticket prices (among other items) when they use our new EasySki service. We are taking the reigns for our guests and pre-booking lift tickets from $49 to $65 each. The catch is that you have to ski three days or more. If you only want to ski one or two days, see below in lift ticket coupons section.
Buy Early. Oftentimes, if you plan plenty of time in advance, you will save on your lift ticket costs. For example, with EasySki, lift tickets are the very cheapest before October 31st. Also, Winter Park sells their season passes at a really low price before the ski season. The earlier you buy, the cheaper the season pass. They become available in May for the upcoming winter and the price slowly creeps up through the summer and fall. Usually skiing skiing days or more with a season pass costs less than the cost buying single lift tickets. Don’t wait until after the ski season starts, though, that’s when season prices go really high, usually over $1000 each.
Teenager Trick: If you have a teenage child between the age of 13 to 17 years old, you can get him/her a season pass for less than the cost of an adult season pass, then use the ten $69 lift ticket coupons that come with it. The adult season passes also come with the ten $69 coupons, so even if you don’t have a teenager in your family, you can still save with an adult season pass & the discount coup0ns.
Coupons: If you only plan to ski four days or less, there are other ways to save. Coupon books area available in Denver and other Front Range grocery stores – King Soopers, Safeway or City Market. At their customer service desks you can purchase the EBook or GoldC Book, which has a variety of coupons for lift tickets at Winter Park Resort and other ski areas. The cost is $10 each and the coupons are for lift tickets for $63 to $72 instead of the $92+ price at the lift ticket window at the ski resort.
Four Pass: If you are a Colorado resident, you are probably already aware of the Four Pass, a four-day lift pass for $159. The catch is that you have to get your photo taken to get the pass, which means you have to be physically present at a Colorado vendor to purchase the Four Pass.
If you own: Check out the option to ship your skis and bulky items instead of bringing it all on the plane. You’ll spend less to ship usually, with airlines charging as much as $100 for each oversize baggage item. Maybe consider shipping just your boots, and renting your skis and poles or snowboard.
Renting: Book your rental gear early. If you don’t own your own equipment and will be renting your gear, it pays to book online in advance rather than paying the walk-in rates, sometimes as much as 40% less.
EasySki service: not only saves our guests money on ski and board rentals (up to 40% less than walk-in rates), it also saves you time and energy. With EasySki, you have the option to get free custom delivery with Winter Park Resort Rentals, with a custom boot fitting right in the comfort of your vacation rental, plus an express ticket to pick up your skis on the way to the lift. Or get a basic ski rental package with Epic Mountain Sports for $18/day, plus tax. We’ll book it all for you!
Savvy Savings on Clothing: if you live in Florida, chances are you don’t own an appropriate winter coat or ski pants. Or maybe you have kids that are growing so fast that it’s just not feasible to buy them a new coat and pants each winter. For these situations, it’s sometimes better to rent your winter clothing. I know that Ski Broker in Fraser has lots of coats, pants and other clothing items for rent from $10 to $25 per day.
Be Thrifty – get your ski gear at a consignment shop, or get your kids’ winter coats at a thrift store. There’s no better place to get second-hand clothing and gear than in a ski town, so maybe you can wait until you get to Winter Park then shop at one of our local thrift stores. If you don’t find just what you need, then check out the clothing rentals at the ski shops.
Drive with Your Gear instead of Flying with Fees: Sometimes taking a little more time to get to your destination can not only be a fun adventure, it can be a great way to save lots of money. Nowadays when you fly, you’re not just paying for your flight. You’re also paying for transportation from the airport to Winter Park, you’re paying for your in-flight meals, you’re paying for the privilege of checking and even carrying on bags and you’re paying even more to fly with your oversize and overweight ski and snowboard equipment.
If you Gotta fly: Sometimes it just isn’t realistic to drive, so you just gotta fly. If you do have to fly, think of creative ways to reduce the costs of traveling on a flight.
Use the free ski shuttle to get from your lodging to the ski area. Sometimes taking an airport shuttle from the airport then walking around or using the free shuttle will cost you less than renting a car, plus you have to consider the cost of gas, the risk of driving in a winter environment you’re not accustomed to. Plus it can be a lot of fun to learn about the area by getting on a shuttle and checking out areas you wouldn’t otherwise see if you were always just driving directly to and from the ski area. Shuttles also mean you can skip the hassle of parking in a huge ski area parking lot and lugging your gear around very far, since they drop you off right in the Village.
Pack Light! Really, less is more. Less to pay in baggage fees, less to lug around, less to keep track of. You can really economize your luggage by re-wearing your under layers like your underarmor wicking gear, for example. Staying at a vacation rental with a private or even shared washer and dryer can really help. One bag really can get you by. It pays to invest in a scale to weigh your luggage to avoid fees for exceeding weight limits. Also, invest in organizing compartments for your luggage that maximize the space in your suitcases. If you can get all of your items in a carry-on, even better! You can ship your bulky coats, boots and skis or other oversize or bulky items that take a lot of space.
Learn Your Airline ABCs: Fly with airlines such as WestJet or Southwest airlines that allow two free carry on bags. Southwest even allows you to change your flight at no charge, you just pay the fare difference, if any.
More Airfare Tips: Check fares at nearby airports instead of just the closest one to you. Sometimes driving an extra hour to the airport can save you lots of money. Use cheap airfare alerts that go directly to your inbox when a discounted flight you’re interested in becomes available. My favorite is Airfarewatchdog.com, which I use every month for our monthly airfare deals alert. Pack a lunch or dinner for you flight instead of paying for the weird airline food. Finally, maybe you can book your flights with a credit card that waives baggage fees, like the Contintental OnePass Master Card.
Food and Dining
Shop for Groceries in Denver – as much as I like to promote buying local to support our local economy, if you really need to eat on a shoestring, go to a grocery store in Denver on your way to Winter Park. This option is really only viable if you have your own car, though, since the airport shuttles do not make any stops on the way.
Eat in – it really helps to eat like you normally eat while on vacation, then splurging on just one or two dinners. When you stay in a vacation rental instead of a hotel, you can really take advantage of using the fully equipped kitchens to prepare at-home dinners and lunches. All of our vacation rentals have kitchens and usually have basic staples like spices, coffee filters, condiments and non-perishable items there for you to use (left by previous guests or the owners. I recommend checking out what’s at your vacation rental before going to the grocery store for your menu items or just getting your meats, fresh veggies and fruits at the grocery store on the way to Winter Park.
Pack Lunch. Instead of paying the ridiculous prices at the base for lunch, pack a lunch and store it in a $1 locker until you’re ready for your lunch break. Maybe you can even pack it in a small backpack, come down to get it, then ride the lift to meet the family at the Lodge at Sunspot or Snoasis for lunch. If you’re staying at the base, you can eat in for lunch in the comfort of your own condo, see more below.
VIP Discount Card – for the occasions that you do want to eat out, use our VIP Discount Card to save at restaurants. More details to come, but click here for a sneak-peak.
Staying ski-in/ski-out – It may seem counter-intuitive because the cost of ski-in/ski-out lodging is higher than non-ski-in/ski-out, but think about the trade-offs. First of all, it’s just so convenient. Also, it can completely eliminate the need for your own car, so you can cross out a car rental and gas expenses. Staying at Zephyr Mountain Lodge, Fraser Crossing and Founder’s Pointe comes with the benefit of using their private shuttle to get to downtown Winter Park or Fraser, plus the free ski shuttle is available to you as well. Another budget benefit to staying at the base is relative to your food costs. You can come down for lunch in the comfort of your own kitchen and dining room instead of eating at the expensive ski area eateries.
Activities & Other Expenses
Check out our list of Free and Cheap Kids’ Activities. There are many activities that will entertain the kids that don’t require you spend a lot of money. Think out of the box!
VIP Discount Card for Winter Park Lodging Company guests has deals that no other lodging company can offer. Save on sleigh rides, dining and lots of other activities in Winter Park and the Fraser Valley. More details coming soon!
Chris October 4th, 2011