Lodging at Ski Resorts: How to Book it Yourself and Save Money

Nothing beats having a condo to retire to after a hard day on the slopes. Problem is, who can afford it? Well if you book it yourself, you may save a few bucks.

Many resorts offer lift tickets with multiple-day condo rentals. Keystone offers free tickets for children under 12 with a two or more night stay while Vail offers the fourth night free when paying for three nights.

Cyber Booking
Thank God, or Al Gore, for the Internet. A simple search for the area you intend to ski turns up numerous rental agencies offering thousands of listings. You don’t have to go through the resort, and actually will sometimes do better price-wise with an outside agency. They don’t all offer the free lift tickets the resort may offer, but some have other amenities like storage lockers at the base, refrigerators stocked with condiments and shuttles that run through most towns.

Rentals by Owners
Vacation Rentals by Owner vrbo.com has over 12,443 rentals just in Colorado. Homeaway.com, with over 4687 listings just in Northwestern Colorado is one of the more popular sites too. By contacting the owner, you also have the ability to negotiate, especially on maid/cleanup fees, parking and taxes. All rentals are expected to charge and pay taxes, so make sure the fee you are being quoted includes all taxes, maid fees and any other surcharges they may have.

Booking Last Minute
By waiting, you take a chance on everything being full, but if you dare, the rewards are high. While rental agencies sometimes are tied into their pricing, private owners would rather book a discounted, last minute trip, than let the condo sit empty. Have them include the taxes or cleanup fee in their posted price, or throw in an extra night. Whether you’re going through an agency or private owner, there’s no harm in asking for a deal.

Condos are the best for ski nights because you can cook your own meals and as we all know, dining is one of the most expensive parts of ski vacations. Some hotels now include free breakfasts, so look for those in their ads. Last minute booking discounts mainly only work on the day of booking and you have to have someone there who can make a decision, but they are possible and worth taking a shot.

Friends are Good
If you’re lucky enough to have friends with a condo, this is usually your best deal. We say “Usually” because, as a guest, you really should reward them for their trouble. This may include buying dinner, which can cost an arm and a leg right there. Some restaurants in resort town can cost as much as a three night condo stay so here’s hoping they aren’t gourmet diners. Offering to bring the booze usually helps, unless they drink like fish. Always remember though, you may want to come back, so bring the booze, take them to dinner, and as Mom always said, “Make up your bed.”

by Michael Ryan