I recently took my annual ski break, and again this year I chose Colorado. It’s an easy choice for me because I have direct flight options, so the getting in/out part is pretty straightforward.
On my way home, riding in the airport shuttle nearly 4 hours to the airport due to whiteout blizzard conditions (the drive should have been more like 2.5-3 hrs), I sat next to a British couple and was listening with intent as they discussed their annual “snow pilgrimage” that they make to Colorado each and every year. I thought I’d share some of their tips with you – useful, even if you aren’t planning on a Colorado trip – though I do suggest it!
My view from the runs at Beaver Creek
Tip 1: Get realistic about budget.
A bit of a slap in the face, but it’s better to know up front about costs. This comment was specifically directed at the cost of lift tickets in Colorado, which frankly I think we can all agree are high. However, the quality of the runs and the quality of the lifts are all of the highest standard of anywhere in the world, so you are getting what you pay for. However, if you’re planning a week ski trip, 7 days of tickets might be too much, so you may have to suffice with a couple of non-ski days, maybe just relaxing by the fireplace in your hotel or hitting the resort spa.
Tip 2: Plan ahead far more than you’re comfortable with.
This was an interesting one; the couple I mentioned book their British Airways flight and the resort package usually 6-9 months in advance! It seems really early, and it also means they have no idea what the ski conditions will be while they are there, but it is the only way they can keep their costs down; in fact,when they told me what they paid, I was slightly in shock (it was low). It’s a real jump to plan so far ahead, especially when that means booking a ski trip as the spring thaw starts to take hold, but clearly it’s working for them.
Tip 3: Become a creature of habit.
This couple always stays in Vail, though they frequent a couple of favourite restaurants in Beaver Creek while they’re in town. They chose Vail for a variety of reasons – good access for the highway to the airport, nice accommodation, good runs, it’s pretty high on the mountain to ensure some snow – but what I liked is that they were really clear on what they wanted. They wanted variety but most nights they wanted the cheap and simple meal option, and they know all the happy hours in Vail. They knew all about their hotel and what kind of room they wanted, which is of course always available 6 months out. Because they stick to areas they know, their budget goes a long long way on each and every trip.
Are you a “snow pilgrim”? If so, where do you go – and what are your tips for making the most of it?
Photos by Colin Davis & Andy Hayes.
Posted : Tuesday, February 19th, 2013 at 11:00
Andy Hayes is a travel journalist currently based in Seattle, Washington. When not soaking up the Pacific Northwest lifestyle or enjoying life on the road, he is spending time hanging out on his own travel lifestyle magazine, Sharing Travel Experiences.