WINTER VACATION IDEAS
Ski Resort Survival Guide
Even if you've never been skiing—or never even considered it—our expert advice on eliminating hassles, saving money, and having a blast may inspire you to hit the slopes this winter. Hey, it's all downhill from here!
WHAT SHOULD WE PACK?
"Before you head to the resort, make sure you have all your gear in advance, including less obvious items, like hand warmers and a neck gaiter," Doyle recommends. "If you forget to pack something, many of these accessories are available to buy at ski resorts, but at a significantly higher price." That can go for food as well. A ski resort cafeteria can charge $12 for a hamburger and $5 for a bottle of water! "Multiply that for each member of the family, and you're looking at a lot of unnecessary costs."
WHAT WILL MY SKI-RESORT DAY BE LIKE?
So, I know my family and I will be taking some ski lessons, breaking for a packed lunch, and attempting the beginner slopes together. But what else will our days at a ski resort involve? "Many resort towns offer fun winter activities like ice skating, dog sledding, snowmobiling, or sleigh rides," says Doyle. "Do your research before you arrive, so you know what to expect. If you're into resort nightlife, one of the best times to hit up the aprés ski bars is when the lifts close, around 4 p.m. Many offer happy hour discounts on both food and drinks."
ARE THERE ANY UP-AND-COMING—OR BUDGET—SKI REGIONS?
At Budget Travel, we're always looking for what's next, and I wondered if there are new ski regions on the rise in the U.S. "Not really," is Doyle's surprising answer. Although there are certainly areas that are perhaps underappreciated as excellent ski destinations, such as West Virginia, there really aren't new ski areas being developed. The exception, Doyle points out, is expert terrain that is being expanded into what's called "sidecountry," which means experienced skiers can venture outside the resort boundaries via "gates" that are accessible from the lifts. "Revelstoke Mountain Resort in British Columbia, for instance, is going into its sixth season, but it's pretty remote." As for destination ski vacations, Doyle recommends Park City in Utah: "It has three world-class ski areas all within a free bus route, and offers all the variety, abilities levels (including beginner-friendly), and is only 35 minutes from Salt Lake City airport. The town offers a wide range of lodging and dining that will fit any budget." With Doyle's advice ringing in my ears—and a brother-in-law in Park City—I hope to introduce my family to the joys of downhill skiing this winter.
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