How Can I Score Last-Minute Upgrades for My Ski Trip?

Most of the time it's as simple as asking, but there are a few other tricks to keep in your bag.

Feb 23, 2015
Outside Magazine
skihytta pudder ski vacation travel ski

Slash your costs before you slash the powder.    Photo: Ola Matsson/Flickr


Frequent skiers already know the best way to get good deals on a ski vacation is to plan in advance. But there are ways to snag additional perks after you arrive at the hill.

While a room upgrade may be as simple as asking the person at the front desk, cheap lift tickets and ski rentals are a bit trickier to score. Much depends on the ski resort's specific deals, so always ask customer service employees if they have any promotions, but you can also follow these common-sense, money-saving tips before and after booking the trip.

Asking for a Deal? It’s All About Timing.

Ski lodges tend to be less full early in the week, especially during early and late season. Just as lift tickets are cheaper during the front and tail end of the season (at Taos Ski Valley the price for an adult lift ticket drops by about $25 at the very end of the season), your chances of securing a room upgrade go up at this time, too. “I think you’ll find that there is more availability during the weekdays,” says Tauni Powers, reservations manager at Alta’s Rustler Lodge. “So, discounts and upgrades are more likely available Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.”

Beat the Crowds With Early Slope Access

If fresh snow is what you’re looking for, look into early morning slope access. At Aspen Snowmass, skiers can request to join the staff for the first run of the day before any of the other guests. It’s as simple as signing up. No fee, but there is limited space. Check to see if your resort has anything similar and sign up at the beginning of the week to be sure to make it on the list. 

Take a Lesson, Save Some Dough

It can actually be cheaper to participate in a group lesson with rentals and a lift ticket than to purchase the ticket and rentals by themselves. At the Alyeska Resort in Girdwood, Alaska, it costs $110 for a lift ticket and rentals on the weekend alone, but only $75 for a beginner lesson and $99 for an intermediate lesson including rentals and a lift ticket. And sign up for a midweek group lesson, which tend to be smaller.

If Renting, Get the Best

Finding a way to waive the rental fee is difficult, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get more for your money. Strike up a conversation with the rental employee and ask about their newest and best equipment. Once you get the lowdown, it’s as easy as making a request for the higher-end equipment.

Ski Resorts Do Play Favorites

Many resorts, especially small ones, keep track of returning patrons and tend to be a bit more generous to them. “At Alta Lodge, we have limited upgrades on a space available basis,” says Joni Dykstra, marketing director at the Alta Lodge in Utah. “For the most part we use upgrades for returning guests.” Therefore, it’s worth mentioning that it’s your second or third stay when booking. And it doesn’t hurt to mention how much you enjoyed the lodge in previous years. If you truly loved where you stayed, let them know that they’re doing their job well.

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