One thing is for sure–Vail, Colorado is amazing. It truly is a world-class destination offering adventure, luxury, romance, fun…the list goes on and on. But all this comes with a big price tag. So many budget-minded travelers opt to forego Vail and head to resort towns that are known to be less taxing on the wallet. And for good reason. In this financial climate it’s just prudent to not spend a fortune for a vacation.
However I believe everyone should come and discover what makes Vail so special. And really anyone can experience Vail without breaking the bank with a few insider tips.
Below I’ve listed my top 10.
1. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. Stay in accommodations on the free Vail shuttle route. It is almost always going to be much less expensive than staying in Vail Village or Lionshead. Almost all the larger homes and condos are located outside the Villages so you tend to get a lot more for less when you stay on the shuttle route. The Vail shuttle is a convenient and reliable way to get into the Village and to the lifts. See Insider Bonus Tip #7 for how to make it even easier to shuttle.
2. DON’T stay in a hotel. Find a Vail vacation condo or home rental. They are almost always more affordable, especially for families or groups, even in prime Vail village and Lionshead locations. Vacation rental managers and private home owners will typically be more willing to negotiate their rates.
INSIDER BONUS TIP–With full kitchens and dining areas, you can cook and entertain at your rental home a few nights to save even more money.
3. SKIP the rental car or more typically in the mountains, the rental SUV. They cost a ton and you don’t need one in Vail. Take the Colorado Mountain Express shuttle from the Denver or Eagle airports straight to your lodging. Once you are in Vail, use the Vail shuttle. It runs often and takes you to the village where everything is located.
**Please make sure your lodging is convenient to the shuttle route. Several areas of Vail have no shuttle service or require you to take a hike to access it.
INSIDER BONUS TIP–ask your lodge or vacation property manager if they have a discount for Colorado Mountain Express. Many do.
4. DON’T park in the parking structures if you do drive. They run upwards of $22+/day and are a nightmare to get out of after skiing. Instead park on North Frontage road, where permitted, for free and catch the shuttle.
5. BUNDLE your gear, lessons, and lift tickets if you or your children plan to take ski lessons. It is usually much less expensive to get a package deal than to purchase everything a la carte. Visit Vail Resorts website for more information, www.vail.snow.com or better yet call them and ask for their best package deal.
6. KEEP tabs on the Vail Resorts website for discounted lift tickets Lift tickets prices are set and controlled by Vail Resorts for Vail so the best place to find discounts is on their site, www.vail.snow.com It can be less money to buy them online in advance than when you arrive. Worth a shot at least.
7. SAVE big bucks by renting your skis and boards online in advance. Most companies offer big discounts to do this through their websites. Repeat renters get even better deals.
INSIDER BONUS TIP–Most ski rental companies will store your rented gear for FREE if you ask. If the company will not, I do know that Christie Sports in Vail Village on Bridge Street will, www.christiesports.com Having no gear to tote makes the shuttle a breeze!
8. PLAN your ski vacation during off peak times like early season (from opening until mid-December) and late season (April-closing). Pretty much everyone offers deals then from lodging to restaurants to spas. The one caveat is that you run a risk with the quality of the snow although Vail traditionally have good early and late season snow. If you don’t want to chance it, consider January. Lots of snow and still more reasonable than the peak times of the Christmas holidays, February, and March.
9. One word, SUMMERTIME!! It is truly awe-inspiring here in the summer. Tons to do and everything is very inexpensive in the summer. Honestly it’s what keeps me here year around AND loving it especially after 6-7 months of winter. Definitely a big To-Do on life’s list. For great Golf discounts, plan your trip in early-mid June. FALL is the least expensive season in Vail so it is affordable and great excuse to see the leaves change and celebrate Oktoberfest. Up to 50% discounts at local restaurants, shops, and spas. A good resource for these discounts is the local paper, the Vail Daily, www.vaildaily.com Lodging is very reasonable as well.
10. SIGN UP at opentable.com for their spotlight specials. You have to sign up for the Denver area but you will receive special offers like $25 coupons that are valued at $50 at local Vail and Vail valley restaurants–the good ones too! I just enjoyed a $50 meal at Latour that I purchased for half that. And it was delicious!!
These are just some of the easy tips to planning an affordable trip to Vail. Please feel free to post your own or share with your friends.
Anna Southwell lives in the Vail valley and owns Black Diamond Rentals, Inc in Vail, Colorado offering Vacation Rental condos and homes in Vail and Beaver Creek. For more information visit, www.blackdiamondrentals.com