While skiers and riders embrace the feet upon feet of powder, there’s no arguing that snow sports are expensive. Besides passes, there's also the gear and the lodging to take into account. Good thing early bird bookings means lodging and ski packages that allow you to save -- so you'll still have some money left over for airfare, meals, and entertainment. But hurry; some of these expire this week.
Lake Placid, New York
The Early Bird Winter Package at the Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort is optimal for skiers who just have to get out there right away. Book by October 31 and get Deluxe Village Side or Lakefront lodging with breakfast starting at $79 per night, Sundays through Thursdays until December 24. After that, rates start at $99 -- and blackout dates apply. To book, call 1-800-582-5540 and mention "shoulder season savings." Be sure to mention the name of the package when booking to get the best rates. While this package doesn’t include lift tickets to Whiteface Mountain, guests can also save up to 45 percent on lift tickets before October 31 by booking online.
Park City, Utah
Stay in style right in the thick of things at the Waldorf Astoria Park City, which is offering a 25 percent savings for a spacious one-bedroom suite that sleeps four and includes a full kitchen and living area, for stays of two nights or more between January 3 and April 5, 2015. You also get a $25 reward credit per night of your stay to use towards dining and spa services (up to $250) -- you know you’ll be wanting to visit the spa after a couple of full ski days. Rates start from $567. Must book by October 31; after that, you'll get savings of 20 percent instead.
Ski City, USA
It seems that Salt Lake City likes to be known as Ski City, USA, in winter. Considering that there are four ski resorts within a few minutes of the airport, we’re willing to go with it. Book three days of skiing with a Ski City Super Pass along with a three-night stay at any participating hotel, and you'll receive the fourth day of skiing and the fourth night’s lodging for free. That’s good for four participants per room. Packages start at $298. Book by December 15 for travel between November 24, 2014 and April 15, 2015.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming; Big Sky, Montana; and Aspen, Colorado
There are a host of sweet ski deals from Ski.com, so we’re highlighting just a few that we love here. In Jackson Hole, book a stay at the Painted Buffalo Inn and get 20 percent off on lodging for four nights, plus two three-day lift tickets. Nightly rates start at $182, based on occupancy for two travelers. You have all season with this, as the book-by date is March 14, 2015, but we advise getting on it sooner so you can get a room for the time you prefer -- and before limited availability for the special rates are all sold out.
Pick Big Sky for your ski vacation this winter and get your fifth night free at the ski-in/ski-out Huntly Lodge. As with Jackson Hole, you have all season to decide, but the early bird gets the best dates (and maybe great powder runs, too). Rates start at $152 per night based on double occupancy through mid-December, then climb between $198 and $243 in January.
Nab a room at the Limelight Hotel in downtown Aspen, only a short distance from Aspen Mountain and a brief (free) shuttle ride to Snowmass, Buttermilk, and Aspen Highlands. Book by November 19 to save 25 percent on lodging for a four-night stay (based on double occupancy), for stays between January 1 through April 16, 2015. We found the best rates in April, as low as $246, and in March, from $365. While these rates are a bit higher than others highlighted here, the lower rates are still a great deal considering the location, included continental breakfast, and access to an outdoor pool, two hot tubs, fitness center, ski valet and lockers, and more.
On a tighter budget? Check into Cragun’s Resort and Hotel on Gull Lake, a property that's older but boasts a great location as well as a number of ways to save. We're liking the chance to escape pre-holiday madness with the Holiday Break Getaway package, available December 19-23. For regular room-only rates from $129 per night, you're treated to special activities like nightly outdoor “Walk of Lights” and family-friendly activities like ice skating, bonfires, broom ball, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling and more. And if you check in on Friday 19, you can also join a welcome party and dinner buffet with entertainment and bingo.
Squaw Valley, California
Stay in the center of the action in the Village at Squaw Valley and get a 25 percent off your room when you stay four nights and purchase two three-day lift tickets for two adults. You'll be just steps from the lifts of Squaw Valley and the free shuttle to Alpine Meadows, and lift tickets are good at both resorts. Rates start from $247, including the cost of the tickets, with the best prices during the week and at the beginning and end of the season. The package is valid for arrivals from November 27, 2014 through April 27, 2015, but make sure you check the blackout dates. (Note: The deal is only valid for units managed by Squaw, not independent owners, in the Village.)