A Travel Guide for Enthusiasts
Written By: Claudia Carbone
Can't get enough skiing or riding in one day? Then it's time for a classic winter weekend or week in the mountains. All winter weekends are great for heading to the mountains, but if you want more time on the slopes and to avoid crowds, you may want to pick a non-holiday time (pass up Christmas/New Year weeks, Martin Luther King and Presidents' Day weekends).
Choosing a resort
If you have only two days, make the most of your time. Pre-arrange everything from lodging, lessons and lift tickets on the resort's website under packages. Search for special weekend offers. When you select a resort, look for one close to home (less travel time). Check out all-inclusive sites like OnTheSnow.com that give subjective reviews and comparative information for all major resorts in North America. Look for package deals. Children stay and ski for free at many resorts.
If you’re flying, find out about transportation - from the airport and in and around the resort. Some resorts like Jackson Hole, WY are a distance away from town, requiring a shuttle or rental car if you want to stay at one place and visit the other - too time consuming for a weekend. Resorts like Breckenridge, CO, Aspen, CO and Park City, UT where lifts are right in town, are good choices for weekends to enjoy both. They have convenient bus routes, and most inns and hotels offer shuttle service to the lifts/mountains.
Ski-in/ski-out is the most efficient option for a weekend. Select a condo if you want to save money on meals. Select a lodge room if you don't want to bother cooking after full days on the mountain. (Besides, après-ski and a night out is part of the fun.) Check out parking situations if you drive; shuttle service from the airport if you fly. Inquire about ski/snowboard storage.
Take your skiing or riding to a new level by enrolling in a specialty program, such as classes for bumps, powder and terrain parks. Some schools offer clinics just for women and seniors, and others will take you to their secret stashes for tips on all-mountain skiing/riding. Save time by booking your lesson and downloading release forms online. If not a lesson, go on a free guided tour of the mountain offered by most large resorts (Mountain Host Program), or just go tear it up with your friends! This could be your bomber weekend, where you get out of the green-blues and make the move to more challenging terrain.
If you're thinking of upgrading your equipment, this is a good time to do it. Stop by your local specialty retailer for great customer service and expert advice. Or, if you can, fly in or drive up Friday afternoon to allow time to visit the ski shop and make your choices. Then ski or ride on demos for the two days - this should give you a good idea of what you'd like to buy. Most shops deduct the cost of the demo from the purchase price. You'll go home with new gear as well as great memories.
To get the full winter experience, book other activities like dogsledding, sleigh rides and snowmobiling. Reserve a spa treatment for the fourth day. After three days on the mountain, you'll need a soothing break about that time. For the hot après ski, dining and late-night scenes, locals often can be the best resource. You'll need dinner reservations at major resorts. Concierges at upscale lodges can reserve everything for you.
Content courtesy of SnowSports Industries America | SIA and Snowlink.com.