Mountains of deals on the ski slopes
It’s all downhill to great deals.
With Colorado’s ski resorts scrambling to recover from a decline in skier numbers last year, there are plenty of good deals to entice skiers and riders back to the slopes.
You name it, ski resorts are luring value-conscious consumers by offering special deals on lift tickets, lodging, equipment rentals and other amenities.
“Many resorts are also holding the line on pricing to help skiers get on the hill,” said Colorado Ski Country USA spokeswoman Jen Rudolph. “With the variety of discounted products recently released, savvy skiers will find that doing a little research can pay big dividends.”
Powderhorn Resort, for example, held the line this year on lift-ticket and season-pass prices and offset that lost revenue by reducing costs and cutting the budget, resort spokeswoman Sarah Allen said.
“Deals are obviously the most traditional and basic way to pull people back to the mountain in a soft economy,” Allen said. “Instead, we’re doing everything we can internally to control our costs. It’s so important in order to provide our product at the best price possible.”
Resorts also are competing for the skier dollar by offering a wide array of holiday specials, ranging from free lodging and discounted lift tickets on advance purchase to free Sno-Cat tours and mountain tours.
Vail, for example, is “aggressively packaging the components of a ski vacation together with specials on lift tickets, lodging, ski and ride lessons and food and beverage,” Vail Resorts spokeswoman Kelly Ladyga said.
“You’ll see attractive packaging from us all season long as the booking window has shortened considerably last year and this year,” Ladyga said. “People are still booking for Christmas at this time.”
While the Christmas season isn’t necessarily the make-or-break component to an entire ski season, it’s certainly vital to a strong overall season.
“It sets the tone for the entire winter,” said Mike Hess, director of sales and marketing for The Peaks Resort in Mountain Village near Telluride.
Many resorts are catering to procrastinating skiers by offering last-minute discounts on holiday lodging and lift tickets.
This indecision on the part of vacationers actually bodes well for resorts serving a strong local base, whether it’s in western Colorado or on the Front Range, where skier visits last year were up 2.5 percent.
“Looking at it from a national perspective, which we do, last winter the destination resorts had some of the toughest times,” said Michael Berry of the Lakewood-based National Ski Areas Association. “But the places close to town, like Eldora and Summit County, and in your area, Powderhorn, had very good years.”
The state saw a drop of about 690,000 skier visits last year, down 5.5 percent compared to 2007-08, when the state hosted a record 12.54 million skier visits.
On a national level, skier visits overall were down 5.5 percent, with the Rocky Mountain region seeing a decrease of 7.2 percent.
Berry didn’t downplay the impacts of a still-soft economy, but he said weather will be key to seeing a rebound in skier numbers.
“The economy certainly is important, but last year we were off only 5 percent from the all-time (skier visit) record the year before,” he said. “We are seeing consumer confidence come back up, and with the Dow Jones average up around 10,005, it looks like we are past the worst.
“What’s really the biggest single influence on our business volume is weather.”