Lift Tix for Less


Red Lens at Snowbird by SkiMum Margit

Lift ticket deals area available at Utah ski resorts if you know where to look. Locals ski dozens (some hundreds!) of days a year, and most snowboarders do it without having a job. Just joking, just joking! For the rest of us, here’s how—

  • For 5th and 6th graders, there is NO BETTER DEAL than the SkiUtah Passport, which gives 3 lifts tickets PER RESORT (42 days!) to 5th graders and 1 lift ticket per resort (14 days) to each 6th grader for just $45 (even less before January 31st). You must purchase this online in advance. Allow a couple weeks depending on time of year.
  • Buy a season pass. Before you scoff, check out the early bird deals at various resorts and SkiMum Richelle’s post about economies of scale. For example, the Family 4-Pack at Snowbird (2 Adults, 2 K-12 kids) purchased in early August 2016 was $1999 and came with great lodging deals, Wasatch Benefits, which included Mountain Collective (half-off at a list of resorts worldwide; I use it at Jackson Hole), 3 lift tickets for Alta AND 3 lift tickets for Deer Valley for all four people plus other goodies like rental, clothing and food discounts. If Alta is typically $96/day (adults and kids over 12) and Deer Valley is $128/day (adults), the math looks pretty good for a week long trip and makes it easy to come back for a quick weekend or two! Note that there are some blackout dates on the Wasatch Benefits lift tickets (but you’re not skiing during those pricey times anyway, right?). The Epic Pass is another unlimited, very budget friendly option that will put an adult on the slopes of Park City resort and all other Vail-owned resorts for just over $800. No, you don’t need to create a spreadsheet to figure all this out, but it’s a great way to get the hubby involved, I’ve learned.
  • If you have a friend skiing the same resort another time during the season, consider doubling up on transferrable pass or punch card. You can buy a transferable 10-to-Share Card at Snowbird (there are others available at other resorts), use a few days and leave it for another friend or relative to when she visits. At $589 (chairs only; $689 with tram), this worked out to $59/day. It’s even cheaper during early bird pricing. Just make sure it’s a transferrable pass.
  • There are no, none, nada discount lift ticket in Park City stores. So, find them elsewhere. Salt Lake City ski shops – even grocery stores – have discounts on lift tickets but not always for all resorts. Call ahead or look online to check on discounts for Park City and Deer Valley resorts, in particular. Locals Tip: REI is on the way to Park City from the SLC Airport, has discount lift tickets, ski rentals and great gear, and all the money you spend goes toward your co-op rebate. Cha-ching!
  • Some resorts, including Snowbird, have great advance purchase deals online, and if you’re visiting someone who has a season pass, they likely can get a Friends & Family discount at the lift ticket counter for you. Locals Tip: Deer Valley, which caps the sale of tickets, will offer advance purchase (but no discount) the day before. On a powder day, this is key.
  • Package lift ticket deals are around, including the Salt Lake Super Pass, that gives adults lift tickets for 7 out of 14 days for all four Cottonwood Canyon resorts (Alta, Snowbird, Brighton, Solitude) for $540 ($78/day). It also comes with a number of other lodging and rental discounts.
  • Liftopia has discount lift tickets for the resorts, but you have to choose your dates (guaranteeing that your kid will be sick or winds will close lifts on that day). Great deals, but choose carefully.

Any other deals? Feel free to share them in the comments section.

Top 5 Tips for Luxury Ski Lodging on a Budget

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!