Yes, you can enjoy a luxury ski vacation in Northern Utah without raiding the retirement fund. Lodging is often the biggest expense. With ski resorts all over the Wasatch Front and Back, you can typically find fantastic lodging that fits your budget. Here’s how to do it —
- Park City and Deer Valley, generally, command the highest rents. However, the price drops and availability rises in nearby Salt Lake City (Alta, Snowbird, Brighton, Solitude), Ogden (Snowbasin, Powder Mountain) and Provo (Sundance). You can even sleep in Salt Lake and ski Park City (Foothill Blvd to Kimball Junction is typically a 16 min drive on I-80, enough time to enjoy your morning cup of coffee), or consider staying and skiing at other top-rated resort areas. If you like the terrain at Park City, then check out Snowbird or Brighton. If you like the food at Deer Valley (and who doesn’t), then look at its sister, Solitude, or the scrumptious Snowbasin near Ogden. All of these are less than an hour from SLC International Airport, have a distinct terrain and feel and are all popular with locals-who-know. The best part of Utah skiing is that you can ski any and all of them regardless of where you’re staying. It’s like being able to go to Disneyland AND California Adventure AND Newport Beach (with less traffic). So, think strategically as well as ecominically.
- Expand your search beyond ski-in/out accommodations. The convenience may not outweigh the cost, and traffic and parking are not really issues at Utah resorts. Hyatt Place and Residence Inn in Cottonwood Heights will get you to Snowbird, great restaurants or even a Utah Jazz game in less than 20 minutes. AirBnB and VRBO are great ways to find terrific homes and condos for a non-hotel price all over the region. Live like a local. You’ll spend less, have a terrific time and probably consider buying a place here. You wouldn’t be the first to visit for a week and leave with a second home as your souvenir.
- Prices vary greatly depending on the date. High Season pricing includes: Christmas, MLK Weekend, Sundance Film Festival (some resorts) and President’s Day Weekend. Avoid these to spend less. Typically, there is more availability at lower prices the week before or after each. Unless the kids are in high school (when it’s just too complicated), just take them out! No one fails kindergarten, and you can use the savings for college. Locals Tip: Sundance Film Festival raises the rates but empties the slopes all over the Wasatch. Visitors are inside watching flicks. It’s when locals ski Deer Valley bringing to mind the Caddy Day scene from Caddyshack. OK, that might be a stretch. Bottom line: Stay in Salt Lake and ski Deer Valley or whoever has powder (locals bookmark the Wasatch Snow Forecast to see where to go) that week.
- It’s time to blow some points! If you have a credit card, then check whether it has a points program. If so, you may be able to apply them toward a stay at a hotel near a ski resort. Between Park City and Salt Lake, most major hotel chains are represented and, many have luxury and budget options to choose from. For example, if you are eligible for Hilton points through its loyalty program or through a separate credit card, you might be able to apply those points toward a night at the 5-star Waldorf Astoria at Park City resort or to an entire stay at its more-affordable, Hampton Inn, just two miles away.
- Marriott and others have vacation rental properties (timeshares) that aren’t being used and are offered just like hotel rooms to the public at terrific rates. For Marriott, simply search its hotel website with locations and dates, choose list view and look for the Marriott Vacation Club logo next to the property. Most of these are one and multi-bedroom condos. More room, less expensive, great location. Perfect!