Tips to Get Cool Deals on Winter Sports Travel / Web Resources to Snow Bargains, week of December 5, 2003
Tips to Get Cool Deals on Winter Sports Travel
You know what really allows you to enjoy the great outdoors in wintertime? A great deal. That's why our Travel-Expert-in-Residence, Rudy Maxa, has a cool way for you to really get you in on the action.
HERE'S HOW YOU DO IT:With lift tickets as high as $72 a day at posh resorts such as Aspen, the traveler looking for a deal searches out packages that include airfare and hotels and sometimes lift tickets and rental cars or airport transfers.
So, to find deals, start with any of the big travel Web sites, such as Expedia, Travelocity or Orbitz. These sites are increasingly stressing packages because they can make a better profit. Put together two or three elements of a vacation and you'll almost always pay less than buying those elements separately.
Then, go to a search engine, such as Google, and type in what you're interested in. Peruse the first dozen listings and you'll find your way to all kinds of sites that offer packages and helpful information. Compare prices you find on winter sports sites with what you've found on Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz. After that, call the resort directly and compare retail prices -- just because something is on the Web, doesn't mean it's always cheaper. And, you can't negotiate a free breakfast or a discount on lift tickets online; you may also be able to do that on the phone.
Traveling on short notice? Check out the vacation arms of airlines that serve ski areas: United, Continental and American are great places to begin. Often, there aren't the same advance-purchase requirements that might be involved with the purchase of just an airline ticket directly from the airline. And, check out www.site59.com and www.lastminutetravel.com.
Traveling with kids? Consider renting a condo so you have a kitchen for kids' meals as well as washer and dryer. They're almost always cheaper per night than a hotel because they don't offer all the services of a hotel, such as room service.
Anything else? Consider sending big, unwieldy things like ski boots ahead to your destination. That leaves you more room in your suitcase or less carry-on stuff. And, if you know you'll want lessons, book ahead, especially during popular times, such as the December holidays.
SOME DEALS RUDY FOUND:Whistler/Blackcomb, in Canada: Hotel and lift tickets at the Cascade Lodge for two adults from $625 per person for five days and four nights in January. Source: www.orbitz.com.
Single traveler: Dallas-Jackson Hole, Wyoming: Roundtrip airfare, plus three nights at the Painted Bluff Inn for about $600. Click on www.11thhourvacations.com and search by destination.
Two people traveling together from LA to Crested Butte, Colorado: Roundtrip airfare, plus three nights in a hotel -- the Sheraton -- plus lift tickets for two days and airport transfer, $369 per person. Details: www.unitedvacations.com.
Web Resources to Snow Bargains
www.snowpak.com: Free ski package quotes (type in your destination and needs)
gorp.away.com: List and links to top 10 classic mountains. The links give pass prices.
gorp.moguls.com: Group ski specials, presented by Moguls Mountain Travel.
gorp.away.com/index.html: A comprehensive family-oriented vacation guide.
www.lastminutetravel.com: Gives links to destinations in North America and Europe, then links you to various vacation packages.
www.onthesnow.com: Same site as above has a hot deals column every few days for half-price weekends, etc.
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