Skiing or riding can be an expensive hobby, but there are ways to get discounted lift tickets, especially if you follow my one proven tip on how to be a savvy bargain-hunter skier or rider. (If at any time during this blog post, you ask yourself, “Does this person realize she sounds like a cheesy infomercial,” the answer is, “Yes, very much.”)
The Tip: Don’t Buy Your Lift Ticket at the Resort (Plus Some Foreshadowing about the One Exception to This Rule)
The first and only tip to save money is: Don’t buy your lift ticket at the ticket booth. There is one exception to my one very important rule, but you’ll need to keep reading. (Have I hooked you? I’ve never gone to cheesy infomercial school, so I am not sure if this is the correct tactic to get you to keep reading, but let’s hope.)
When you purchase your ticket from the ticket booth at a ski resort, it’s like paying full retail. Now, if you like to pay full price for something that you could buy discounted from another store, then please buy directly from the ticket booth. In fact, while you are at it (since you sound like a really nice person), buy a ticket for the guy in line behind you, too. Some people don’t like even the slightest hassle. But, if you research deals and purchase tickets before you head to the mountain, chances are, you will save some cash. And it’s quite simple.
My favorite go-to site to search for lift ticket deals is Liftopia.com. It’s easy to navigate and the process is simple. The last time I used it, I bought my lift ticket online and printed a voucher page which I then showed at the resort ticket booth window. I saved about $20 off of the price of a full-day lift ticket.
Resort Web Sites and Resort Facebook Pages
Visiting your favorite resort web site can also save you some hard-earned greenbacks. I’ve found that most resorts list their special deals on the drop down menu button that says “tickets.” Nowadays, you can sign up for special deal e-newsletters, so look for that option also. Some resorts offer deals to their Facebook fans, too.
The Exception to the Rule Revealed, Plus Some Pertinent Examples
The exception to my fantastic rule (just guessing that cheesy infomercial school would tell me to use an adjective to describe my rule) is if you’ve done your research ahead of time and you are going to the mountain on a special discount day. Here are some examples:
On non-holiday Tuesdays and Thursdays, Burke Mountain in Vermont offers a discounted rate of $25 for a full day ticket to guests 55 years and older. I am not 55, so this is not a great offer for me, but it gives me a chance to remind you to read the fine print with these discounts. Sometimes there are restrictions for these specials, like an age requirement. I’ll remind you again later, since this advice is important.
Okemo Mountain Resort in Ludlow, Vermont, is offering a special deal on April Fools’ Day. If you donate three non-perishable food items on April 1, 2011, your lift ticket costs $10. Donations collected will be distributed to Black River Good Neighbors’ food bank in Ludlow.
Head to Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2011, and pay $39 to for a one-day lift ticket.
Or check out Ski NH’s deal page where every resort in New Hampshire lists their best day ticket discounts: http://www.skinh.com/lift-ticket-deals/index.cfm
Oh, but you wanted to ski in Vermont? That’s okay, here is the place to go for Vermont deals: http://www.skivermont.com/events-and-deals/deals
And, Maine: http://skimaine.com/deals.php#skiareaoffers
But, don’t just take my word for it, start searching for yourself.
Other Things to Note
If you are planning a multi-day trip to the mountain, you can also save by doing your homework. Many resorts offer package deals that include lodging and lifts tickets, or ski lessons and lift tickets.
Resorts tend to offer loyalty programs where you can get discounted tickets if you buy a certain amount. This is a great option if you know you will visit one resort multiple times, but you still aren’t ready to commit to a full-season pass.
To be a savvy bargain-hunter skier or rider, you will need to read the fine print. (Does this sound slightly familiar from earlier in this blog?) Often, there are some exclusions to discounted offers. For instance, during peak holiday periods, deals will be difficult to find. But, keep searching and you can save some cash.
And remember this whenever you doubt that the price of admission might be too high for what you are getting in return for a day on the slopes: You are never going to pay a scalper $900 for a ticket, then sit on your butt for the next four hours watching a live football game, eating expensive hot dogs and drinking over-priced beers at a ski resort. In the worst case scenario, you will disregard my one valuable, brilliant tip and buy a lift ticket from the ticket booth for $90, and then be too cold and lazy that you end up sitting inside at the bar eating expensive hot dogs and drinking over-priced beer watching a televised football game. My point is that no matter what you pay to go skiing or riding, discounted or not, there is a lot that you will get back in return: fresh air, activity and the great outdoors.