Which ski card or ski package is right for you?
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As you ride the chairlift to the top of your favourite run, are you thinking about the fresh tracks you are about to carve? Or are you hoping you are going to get value out of how much you just paid to have the privilege of sitting on that "easy access to the summit" chair? Lift tickets are creeping over a $100 at all the major resorts. So, unless you have a nice auntie who buys you a season pass each year, you need to take advantage of the savings that can be found through the resorts and third-party ticket sellers.
If you are a die-hard fan of any single resort, you’ll probably have a seasons pass paid off in 12 trips. If you buy the Big3 pass, it might take 20 times, but that’s not the only way to save.
Consider a midweek pass. At Lake Louise for example, you’ll have it paid off within six visits, but you have to ski Monday through Thursday.
Are you a student (ages 18- 29) enrolled at an accredited Canadian College or University? Check out resorts like Sunshine Village – you’ll have that Student Season Pass paid off within seven days on the slope.
Check out the deals on the resort cards. Most of the major hills have worked out deals with other majors and smaller hills to give you added benefits. Also, check the fine print before you decide on which card you are purchasing; some resorts offer discounts on the “non-free” days and even better discounts on Monday through Thursday.
This year, the Sunshine Village Super Card offers the standard 1st, 4th and 7th day free at either Sunshine, Marmot Basin, Revelstoke Mountain Resort and Castle Mountain, but also offer a free day at Winsport, Rabbit Hill or Snow Valley.
The Resorts of the Canadian Rockies card offers the 1st, 4th and 7th day free at any of its resorts including Kicking Horse, Nakiska, Kimberley and Fernie. Hidden in that fine print, the RCR cards have double discount periods where the savings are up to $40 per visit.
Whistler has the Edge card that is exclusive to Canadians and Washington State residents. The card pays for two or five days of skiing at Whistler Blackcomb or at any of its sister resorts in the USA. It also offers discounts throughout the rest of the season on lift tickets.
You gotta hand it to the folks at Castle Mountain, they are putting themselves on the map. The skiing is great, the cat skiing is fantastic and now they have launched the Wonders of Winter Card. The WOW Card offers each cardholder unlimited 50% off full day tickets at Castle, Pass Powerkeg and up to five 50% days off at Hidden Valley Ski Resort.
Take a chance and pre-purchase
Ski Central and GetSkiTickets have teamed up with Liftopia, and that’s another good avenue to consider if you know you are going exact dates to a resort. They boast on their webpages that you can save a decent amount of cash, but from what we saw for early season, the price was about the same as if you bought a resort discount card. And, to compete with those third-party sellers, resorts like Kicking Horse offers a multi-day pre-purchase plan where you can save, depending on the part of the season and how many days you plan to ski. If you know you are skiing two days of three, it is a nice discount.
If you like to spread yourself out over the western provinces and states, consider the EPIC or the Mountain Collective cards. The EPIC card has a few options to select, like unlimited access to like 65 resorts or it can be a card with 7 days at any of 25 resorts in North America, including the RCR resorts and Whistler. The Mountain Collective offers two days each at 17 iconic destinations (a few over in France, Chile and Japan) and 50% off days once you’ve skied the free days. Sunshine, Lake Louse and Revelstoke are included in that card.
Ski Canada Council
Through Ski Canada Council, you can pick up a combo pack of lift tickets that can be used at any of the participating ski destinations across Canada. The good news is you can be selfish and use them all yourself or share them amongst family and friends.
Many of these offers end mid-November and by Christmas so, do your homework and decide what card is going to make you add up the savings on your winter. And…if you are that lucky guy with the nice auntie…take her out for dinner.
Another great avenue to explore is where you shop. Retailers like Costco, your local grocery story and even ski shops have partnered with the majority of the hills in Alberta and B.C. to make lift ticket buying easier and less expensive. And don't forget, if you are a member of AMA and BCAA, purchase your lift ticket through them for savings. Many resorts work out special deals with these retail and business outlets, not for just lift tickets, but also ski & stay packages.
With a little bit of research and knowing exactly what your ski plans are this season, it pays big time to find the right card (or package buy) for you.
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