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Think Snow, Plan Ahead

winter-park-resortThe scene at Winter Park Wednesday morning after 15 inches of snow fell overnight. The resort opens November 16. Photo by Tana HoffmanWinter might not be on your doorstep quite yet, but now is the best time to plan a ski vacation. Resorts around North America are offering deals that expire by Halloween or Thanksgiving.


The bargains can be partly attributed to ripples from a 2010–11 season that saw record snowfall and record skier visits at many resorts. “People want to keep skiing and resorts are responding by offering bargains, deals, and packages that resonate with their guests,” says Jennifer Rudolph with Colorado Ski Country USA. The lingering anxiety of the recession is also motivating the ski industry to entice guests. “Last year was a great year for us, but with all of the uncertainty in the economy right now the resorts realize that value is something consumers are looking for,” say Jessica Kunzer with Ski Utah.


Timing is also a big factor in finding value in a ski vacation. Kunzer suggests traveling early in the season—resorts are relatively quiet until mid-December—or closer to April, when spring skiing peaks but crowds have drifted on to other sports. Try to book during the first two weeks of each month since holidays tend to be stacked at month’s end. And then there’s the weather: Daniel Pisporesi with Ski Lake Tahoe says early storms and snowmaking systems combine to make Tahoe a prime early-season destination. “And all the signs point to another great weather pattern from La Niña,” Pisporesi says. “We’ve already had the first significant snowfall, and peopling are making turns at Kirkwood and Alpine.”


According to Rudolph, deals can also be had by following favorite resorts on social media like Twitter or Facebook once the season gets underway. “It’s a new way that resorts are looking to talk to customers directly,” she says. “We often see promos that are exclusive to social media.” Putting the time and elbow grease into researching deals can also reward skiers and snowboarders. We just spent an hour doing exactly that. Here are five deals worth a gander:


Winter Park, CO: A storm bringing up to 12 inches is forecast for this week. Book before opening day (Nov. 16) to ski and stay for $84 per person, per night this season. winterparkresort.com


Sunday River, ME: Take advantage of the longest season on the East Coast with ski-and-stay packages for a nightly rate of $69 per person ($79 over Thanksgiving weekend). Available from November to April. sundayriver.com


Grand Targhee, WY: Book by Halloween to save 30 percent on lodging all season long. Early-season packages at less than $100 per day include a day of snowcat skiing. grandtarghee.com


Whistler Blackcomb, BC: Kids under 12 get lift tickets, rentals, and accommodation for free, while adults start at about $99 per night if you book before November, 15. whistlerblackcomb.com


Squaw Valley, CA: Stay at The Village at Squaw Valley for $79 per night on non-holiday dates in 2012, just book by Oct. 31. If it’s a long stay, consider the Tahoe Super Pass to ski Alpine Meadows and Squaw. thevillageatsquaw.com  —Olivia Dwyer

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