Booking Ski Trips 101

At the top of Hidden Peak, Snowbird, Utah

When your travel buddy has 4.5 days of vacation left for the year, it’s basically a crime not to take advantage of them. For that reason, I suggested that we embark on a ski adventure. It took some elbow grease to get the idea set into motion, but one hour on the couch and a great deal on New Year’s travel later, we had a 4 night stay booked at a highly reviewed resort called the Cliff Lodge in Snowbird, Utah!

You know the saying “hindsight is 20/20”? Well that really applies to this trip. Immediately after booking, I clicked into the mountain reviews. They were extremely positive but I started noticing that very advanced skiers were the ones writing the reviews and they were raving about how fantastically challenging the mountain was. That is fine and good but Ryan, my travel buddy boyfriend, was a first time skier and I hadn’t thought to look up things like “best places for first time skiing”. (Duh…) I was basically having an “OMG, what did we do?!” moment on the couch approximately two minutes after booking! After researching more about the amazing ski school at Snowbird and learning that about 30% of the runs are green, I felt better about our decision, considering it was basically non-refundable.

Snowbird Mountain Trail Map

Unfortunately, I then had another thought. “What about the nightlife / other activities outside of skiing?”. Ryan and I planned a 4 day stay over New Years Eve and I wasn’t sure exactly how many days we would actually ski. What if Ryan didn’t like it or one of us got hurt? Snowbird had a spa but outside of that and snowshoeing, it didn’t seem as though there was much else to do for an entire day. Also, while its only 30 minutes to Salt Lake City or an hour to Gorgoza Park for snow tubing, the cost of transport to those places was a few hundred dollars – a big limiting factor. Again, our trip was booked so we couldn’t change the reservation, but this still made me nervous.

Fortunately for us, the Snowbird trails ended up being completely amazing and we were able to find plenty of slopes to fit our skill levels. Ryan’s ski class went exceedingly well and he picked it up like a pro! As you will read in the next round of Snowbird posts, we ended up skiing for 3 of the 4 days, but were also able to find things to do at the resort to fill our time off of the slopes.

Things to consider when booking a ski / snowboarding trip:

  • Proximity of the slopes to the airport – depending on where you choose, the slopes can be hours away, meaning lots of travel time through potentially snowy roads. Utah has a bunch of options within an hour drive of the SLC airport which is why we picked Utah in the first place.
  • Cost of lift tickets and gear rentals – prices vary from place to place so do some research before you book if you are on a budget.
  • Local area nightlife – each ski town has its own personality and size. Some places, like Snowbird, are pretty isolated so you stay on the premise. Other places, like Park City, have a much bigger “scene” with lots of options.
  • Non-ski activity offerings – consider the length of your stay vs. the days you will actually be on the slopes and if all of your party wants to ski / snowboard the entire trip.
  • Ease and cost of travel to other places – if you do want to explore other areas for skiing / snowboarding or for other activities, look up how far the distance between the areas is and call and ask local transport (your hotel will have this information) for costing. Snowbird’s slopes actually have a ski-in, ski-out connection to the neighboring Alta Ski slopes, so for $30 more a day, you have the option to ski either range. An awesome perk for a longer ski trip.

Skis on the lift - Snowbird, Utah

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