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Money-Saving Ski Tips

When it comes to skiing in New England, there’s certainly no shortage of options. You can stay in the area and head to local resorts such as Nashoba Valley or Wachusett Mountain. If Vermont or Maine is your ideal destination, hop in the car and in a couple of hours you could be swishing your way down pristine conditions at Stratton or Sunday River.

By the same token, hitting the slopes for a weekend can drain more than just your stamina. Even for the cash-strapped student, it is possible to have a fabulous ski trip without maxing out mom or dad’s Visa, or taking out an extra student loan. The key is to find the promotional sales geared towards the poor academic and take advantage of package deals offering a combination of lodging and lift tickets, which almost always work out cheaper than buying separately.

Snosearch is one company focused primarily on the skier who wants a good run down the mountain without blowing a paycheck. They offer day trips out of Boston, starting at $50, which includes both lift ticket and roundtrip transportation. The trips go to area ski resorts such as Killington and Mt. Snow in Vermont and Sunday River in Maine. “The program is very well organized and has an incredible following of people who want to ski and not pay a lot of money,” said John Dinga, manager of the program.

The day trips are offered for such a low price because Snosearch is able to negotiate with the resorts for great rates due in part to the large amount of business they bring. “We moved more than 16,000 people through the program last year,” said Dinga.

That being said, space fills up quickly. The trips are offered on Thursday, Saturday and Sundays as well as certain weekdays during the holiday season. Dinga advises booking early – “We do take last minute reservations but if you definitely want to go on a particular day, we recommend booking no later than two days prior to the actual trip.” You can check out the dates online at www.snosearch.com and book a trip through one of the 15 Ski Market stores in New England.

On their web site you can also explore package deals and promotional weekends offered by several ski resorts. Many advertise “Collegefest” weekends or 5-day packages. Mt. Snow, home of the 2000 and 2001 X-Games, has a deal starting at $249 per person for five nights accommodation, five-day lift pass for January 5-10. Killington has a “Value Weekend” for December 6-8 starting at $129 per person including two – night accommodation and a two-day lift ticket. A college season pass is another way to save serious cash, although the deadline of December 16 is fast approaching.

Besides going with a package deal, there are other ways to hang on to your money while skiing. Common sense dictates that it’s cheapest to ski during the week if you avoid holidays. And if you’re not doing a day trip, prices for accommodation on the mountain are going to be higher than if you stay in a local motel or hotel. By the same token, bringing your own food (check to see if your room has a refrigerator!) can save you good money rather than blowing all your Christmas money in mountain lodge bar and restaurants. And to reiterate the golden rule for travelling during peak season, book ahead, book ahead, book ahead!

Most resorts have a range of accommodation on site- from budget to luxury and if you’re not looking to scrimp and save, eating ramen noodles while staying in a Motel 6, why not do it right? Contiki offers amazing packages to ski the Alps in Austria for 7 or 14 days. Including airfare from Boston, seven- night accommodation, six- day ski pass and daily breakfast, prices start from as low as $770 per person. Ring in the New Year in style this year! Partying in Hopfgarten, Austria is sure to beat the same old New Years Eve stories that you’d get from cramming four friends into a car and heading to Maine to ski and stay in the middle of nowhere. Contact your local travel agent for more details on Contiki and other ski packages.

November 12, 2002
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