Choose your dates wisely before heading for a North American powder base
SKIERS and boarders planning a break in North America should closely consider season dates.
Most ski resorts in Canada and the US open for business in November each year and then close when snow conditions deteriorate, unlike in Australia and New Zealand, where seasons tend to have a defined end.
Aspen, Colorado, for example, has already proposed new season dates from November 24 this year to April 22 next year. However, dates are flexible — good snowfalls over recent weeks, for example, extended the 2010-11 season to the end of May.
Australian ski travel specialists such as Mogul Ski World, Ski Express, Ski Max, Stein’s World Ski Tours, Travelplan Australia and Value Tours often create North American packages to tie in with quieter periods, such as US and Canadian school terms. Travellers prepared to book at least six months ahead can save up to 30 per cent.
Ideal windows for Australians planning ski holidays are November to mid-December and from early January to midFebruary, which are periods outside US and Canadian school holidays.
Australians particularly flock to ski resorts such as Aspen and Vail in the US and Whistler Blackcomb in Canada (where Australia Day celebrations are hugely popular with locals and visitors alike).
In fact, we are the largest international market in many resorts.
From late March (post-spring break) until season’s end is also an ideal and cost-effective period for Australian skiers, as slopes are often quiet and the prices of accommodation and lift passes drop considerably, sometimes by as much as 25 per cent.
Resorts such as Heavenly, Squaw Valley, Aspen, Mammoth, Vail, Breckenridge and Winter Park in the US, and Lake Louise, Whistler Blackcomb and Sunshine in Canada stay open for late-season spring skiing, providing plenty of choice at good prices.