The perfect ski vacation is in the eye of the beholder. Maybe you’re thinking somewhere woodsy and natural as an escape from everyday urban life, or perhaps you’re into snowboarding all day, then cavorting in a drinking playground all night. Whatever you’re into, there’s a destination vacation for you.
If you’re a ski purist
Alta in Park City, Utah, caters to skiers only, with nary a snowboarder in sight. The mountain is expansive, the snow perfect, the old silver mining town below just darling for your après-ski warm-up.
If you like it family-style
Every parent likes to hear the magic words, “kids ski free,” but Keystone resort in Colorado offers more than that. There’s been considerable thought to how families operate and how people can best learn to ski here, plus other activities such as tubing and an epic snow fort. There’s also some stellar night skiing, and everyone’s welcome.
If you’re thinking like James Bond
Daniel Craig’s Bond turn in the 2015 film, Spectre, brought him to Sölden in the Austrian Alps. A newly installed exhibit on the mountain celebrates the world’s favorite spy, while Olympians and other elite skiers tackle the rest of the mountain.
If you’re way into nature’s grandiosity
Come for the sweeping mountain views, stay for the ice waterfalls. Cortina, in the Italian Dolomites, boasts several ski areas, with perhaps the Lagazuoi-5 Torri-Giau area as its most resplendent run.
If you’re feeling romantic
Whistler in British Columbia, Canada, has it all: expert ski terrain, bountiful natural beauty as well as lots of romantic canoodling spots such as mountainside hot tubs, a quaint village, candlelit dining, and even ring shopping, if that’s on your agenda.
If you’re partying like it’s well past 1999
Pretty much any ski area gets its party on when the sun goes down, but add casinos and a Vegas vibe to the mix, and you’re asking for round-the-clock festivities. Heavenly, on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe, brings you powder by day and all kinds of gambling and other assorted debauchery by night.
If you’re hardcore
It’s been said that Corbet’s Couloir at Jackson Hole, Wyo., is one of the toughest runs in the world. Skiers who attempt this nearly vertical drop, nestled into a narrow mountain wedge, get an audience of awed spectators who fly overhead on the tram.
Booking your trip
As with any trip, you’ll find better prices and more options when you book your snow vacation early—at least two months ahead. And know that you’ll pay more if you travel on a Saturday and a little less if you travel on an actual holiday such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day, so a little flexibility is key for getting the best airfare. Other ways to save money, according to Expedia.com’s Alexis Tiacoh:
- Set up price alerts and favorite the hotels you like. If you log in or create a com account, your recent searches and any hotels you save will automatically be saved in “My Trips” so you can come back and track price changes.
- Work the rewards. If you haven’t already done so, make sure you’re signed up for any travel loyalty programs for air and hotels and credit cards.
- Save by bundling your flight with a hotel. Travelers save an average of up to $600 on package bookings when they book a plane and hotel together.
- Prepare your travel documents. Don’t get left behind because you didn’t have the necessary documents to leave the country. Remember: processing times for new U.S. passports range anywhere from two to eight weeks, and if you already have a passport, make sure it won’t expire within six months of your travel dates.
- Enroll in TSA Precheck or Clear. Save yourself a lot of time and security line headaches by applying for TSA Precheck or Clear before your trip. You’ll get to skip the longest lines at security and keep your shoes on. TSA Precheck is absolutely worth the $85 fee and your application lasts for five years. Clear is another great way to speed through security lines.
- Mark your calendars for major sales. If you’re not ready to book now, look for sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Nov. 29-Dec. 2.