How to find affordable ski deals this winter

ski dealsSkiing isn’t the most budget-friendly winter activity, but you can find affordable ski deals if you know when and where to book lift tickets.

Evan Reece, co-founder of Liftopia.com, reveals how to save on lift tickets at popular ski resorts around the U.S.

Buy lift tickets in advance and pick your days carefully.
If you buy a lift ticket through Liftopia at least the day before you plan to ski, you can typically save an average of 35 percent when compared to booking a one-day pass in person at the ticket window. Mid-week lift tickets are generally cheaper, and skiing on Sundays typically costs less than Saturdays. “Many customers will go up for the weekend and intend to ski both days, Reece says. “But they’ll end up being tired on Sunday. And faced with a four-hour drive, they’ll just say, ‘Let’s go.’”

Ski on Christmas Day.
When everyone else is preoccupied with opening gifts on Christmas morning, hit the ski slopes and save. Based on last year’s data, the average price of all lift tickets booked in advance through Liftopia for Christmas Day skiing was 39.7 percent less than what you’d pay at the window, Reece says. Other bargain days include New Year’s Day, Jan. 2, and Super Bowl Sunday.Seek out smaller ski resorts.
Rather than following the crowds to Breckenridge or Vail, venture to smaller ski resorts for a more intimate experience. Though you may sacrifice the big-name glitz and apres-ski scene, let’s face it: most of us aren’t skilled enough to take advantage of all the ski runs to justify an $80 lift ticket.

Look into combo passes with added value.
Some resorts, such as Keystone in Colorado, add in meal credits with the purchase of a lift ticket. For example, a one-day lift ticket plus a $15 lunch credit bought through Liftopia will save you about 11 percent when compared to buying the same package on-mountain. Even the resort food will taste better than “eating a smushed peanut butter and jelly sandwich,” Reece adds.

Consider packages that bundle ski rentals and lift tickets.
Other than saving on checked baggage fees, many resorts now carry top-of-the-line rentals that are most likely newer and better than anything you have stashed in the garage.

How Liftopia Works: Tickets purchased through Liftopia are nontransferable, nonrefundable, and date specific. Or as Reece explains it: “You can’t buy a Friday concert ticket and expect to show up the next day.”

[Photo by Amy Chen]