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Planning a Ski Vacation

October 8, 2010
It’s time to start planning to hit the slopes for some winter fun! Whether you are a first-timer or a seasoned veteran, there are several choices you need to make that will impact your overall experience.
Course difficulty – Skiers need to match the difficulty of skiing with their own ability level. Generally, skiing in the Rockies is actually easier than the lower Appalachian Mountains in the east because the snow is better quality and the slopes are wider and less crowded. Beginners should take advantage of available instruction and expert skiers should choose slopes that are difficult enough to challenge them. Serious skiers will appreciate Jackson Hole and Telluride, while Snowmass has more child- and beginner-friendly slopes.
Accommodations – Your choice of lodging is almost equally important to the enjoyment of your ski vacation, but there is no blanket “best” choice. Staying in a house or condo allows you to cook meals or to do laundry, which is probably important for families. But if you don’t want to see a kitchen on vacation and prefer to eat in restaurants, hotel rooms or a lodge atmosphere might be better for you. The location of your accommodation also makes a difference. Ski-in/ski-out lodging makes it easier to come off the slopes for lunch, to change clothes, or for children’s rest time.

Non-ski activities – Activities beyond the slopes are important to consider when choosing your ski vacation. For non-skiers, look for daytime alternatives like shopping and children’s programming. There are also many other winter sports to enjoy besides skiing and snowboarding. Look for tobogganing or tubing, sleigh rides, ice skating, For après-ski, dining and nightlife options are important. Aspen/Snowmass and Vail/Beaver Creek are areas that offer lots of activities beyond skiing.

Rental equipment – Packages often offer rental equipment options, which is perfect if you don’t own your own, but it is a matter of personal preference for others. Beyond comparing the cost of rentals against airline baggage fees, there is also a convenience factor – schlepping your equipment versus picking it up slope side. There is also what I’ll call a familiarity factor. Your own ski boots might be so very comfortable that you wouldn’t consider spending a day on the slopes in any others. In this case you might want to rent skis, but use your own boots. Although ski clothing is not usually rented, do be sure to wear good quality warm undergarments and weather proofed outerwear. Appropriate clothing can really affect your experience, particularly for kids.

Transportation – There are two needs for transport in ski vacations: getting to the resort and getting around once there. Your travel advisor can arrange transfers from the airport to the resort, but depending on number in your party, it might be more cost-effective to rent a vehicle and drive yourself. If you rent a vehicle, you will have mobility during your vacation to go to the grocery, dinner, or shopping at your own pace. You can also drive to the slopes, although you may prefer to use the local shuttles instead because they will drop you right at the activity hub and lifts, while individual parking will be father away and probably require some walking. Of course the aforementioned ski-in/ski-out lodging option and equipment choices all play into transportation choices as well.

Course, lodging, other activities, equipment, transportation – There are many ways these broad categories can be arranged in endless combinations. Consider the unique needs of your group and let Covington’s ski experts customize your experience for the ideal ski vacation.

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