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Planning a family ski vacation this year is challenging. But worth it. Old fashioned reservation systems are now digital. Many of the major North American ski resorts have slashed pass prices. So, if you’re itching to hit the snowy mountain slopes for some skiing and snowboarding in the fresh mountain air, here’s what you need to know for ski season 2021/2022. But, No. 1 rule of pandemic travel times still reigns: Be prepared to be flexible.
Skiers and snowboarders can rejoice that their sport is back and can be fully enjoyed this coming winter in North America. Not only is skiing itself a freeing experience, but enjoying a snowfall in the evening with the twinkling lights of winter in an alpine ski town is a special experience. A ski getaway can even be a great way for families to bond.
Here’s how a family ski vacation might be different this winter.
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Ski Passes May be Cheaper
In March of 2021, Vail Resorts announced the price of an Epic Pass season ski pass would be reduced 20 percent across the board for the 2021/2022 ski season. This was an effort in its Epic for Everyone plan to honor the loyalty of its pass holders. This season pass price reduction includes lift tickets purchased in advance as a part of the Epic Day Pass program.
While Epic Pass’ primary competitor, Ikon Pass, is offering a $100 discount on a full Ikon Pass and a $70 discount on the Base Pass for renewing pass holders.
These two pass options make up a large portion of the ski destinations across the United States. They also include many of the best family ski resorts.
Ski Lodging & Dining May be More Expensive
Demand for peak holiday ski vacation dates is higher this year; some lodging is already booked for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, especially premium ski in, ski out or slopeside resorts. But it is always the case that you’ll find better holiday deals the earlier you book. Last minute holiday deals don’t exist. If you want to ski over a holiday and haven’t yet booked, do it now!
You should still be able to find good rates on non-peak ski dates and lodging farther from the slopes. Skiers on a budget can always locate lodging in a nearby metro area, such as staying in Salt Lake City to access Park City Resort, or staying in Denver and taking the early morning ski train to Winter Park.
Given the price drop on lift tickets, skiers should still be able to plan an affordable ski holiday if they are willing to be flexible on dates and location.
While in general lodging may be harder to secure for peak dates, and prices may be a bit higher, you may still be able to find value in ski vacation packages. Often resorts provide offer discounts for buying several components of a ski vacation together — list tickets, lodging, ski rentals and more
Ski towns are also facing an old issue, now exacerbated. Employee housing has always been an issue. But workers were laid off during the pandemic. Visitors came to mountain resort ski areas looking for space closer to nature. They bought up real estate. Now, businesses are struggling to hire back workers who have fewer places nearby to live.
This means that lodges, restaurants and other businesses are quickly investing in housing and increasing wages. Prices are likely to follow. There’s a good chance that you may pay more for lodging, dining and activities.
Just know that your money is going to the people who need it most. And, prepare to tip those who show up for work and provide good service. Just as during the pandemic, kindness and patience will continue to be important.
Mountain Fun Will be Back in Full Force
Mountain fun didn’t really ever go away. But there were some mountain top adventure parks that didn’t open all of their attractions last winter. These should be back at full or near full capacity.
From alpine coasters to snow tubing and terrain parks, there will be no lack of fun on the mountains this ski season.
Upgrades and Expansions
The pandemic caused some capital projects at ski resorts to be paused or delayed. Skiers will be happy to see these resume.
For example, Beaver Creek is adding 250 acres of groomable glade trails as a complement to preexisting terrain in McCoy Park as the third installment of the Signature Parks Collection.
Apres-Ski Will be Back
Kicking off the ski boots after an exhilarating day on the slopes is always a time to celebrate. Music and drinks at the end of the ski day will be back, as will nightlife. As always, there will be plenty of outdoor spaces to enjoy this time of day.
And, we believe in alternative apres-ski celebrations better suited to families. Be sure to check out some of these family-friendly apres ski ideas!
Ski School Will Also be Back
Ski school never actually went away. But there were class size limitations last winter. Also, there were age limitations that meant there were fewer options for younger kids. We predict that ski school will be back to its pre-pandemic operations this winter.
TravelingMom Tip: Bookmark our ski packing list, which includes a new section on what you need for 2021/2022 skiing.
Ski Rentals Will Be Easier
The days of filling out long forms at the ski rental counter may be a headache of the past. Vail Resorts will continue to offer Digital Sign-in Stations (at select locations) so pass holders can scan or swipe their pass to populate the rental contract. This is one of those Covid innovations that will benefit skiers long term.
In recent years, ski delivery and ski valet services have become popular. This will continue and is likely to gain popularity. Who wouldn’t want to skip the lines at the ski rental shop and pick up their skis at the base of the mountain?
Ski rental returns will be easier too, with outdoor tents likely to continue, and at Aspen Snowmass, a virtual queuing system.
As with everything this skiing 2021/ 2022 season, advance reservations will continue to be important. Rent your ski and snowboard gear ahead of time.
Plan Ahead, Be Flexible and Buy Insurance
Airlines are having their fair share of staffing and scheduling hiccups. If possible, book a direct flight. Allow time for delays when you do have a connection. And, be prepared to adjust your plans on the fly.
Make sure that you have booked as much as you can in advance. Even have dinner reservations in place well before you arrive. But always be flexible in case you have to change plans.
This also is a good time to buy travel insurance. Just be sure to read the fine print so you know what’s covered and what’s not.
Find What’s Different at Your Ski Resort
Did you know that there are almost 500 ski resorts in the United States? 470 to be precise. That’s a lot. And, every resort may be operating just a bit differently than the others.
You will want to check before you go. Here are quick links to many of the individual North American resorts and their specific ski trip 2021-2022 information.
Vail Resorts individual mountains of Breckenridge, Keystone, Vail, Beaver Creek, Park City, Crested Butte, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, Stowe, Okemo, Mt Snow, Hunter, Attitash Mountain, Wildcat Mountain, Mount Sunapee, Crocheted Mountain, Liberty Mountain, Roundtop Mountain, Whitetail, Jack Frost, Big Boulder, Wilmot Mountain, Afton Alps, Mt Brighton, Alpine Valley, Boston Mills, Brandywine, Mad River Mountain, Hidden Valley may operate slightly differently based on state or county health regulations.
IKON Pass Resorts all operate with a larger variety of difference. You’ll want to take a look at the individual resort websites of Aspen Snowmass, Copper Mountain, Winter Park, Steamboat Springs, A-Basin, Jackson Hole, Taos, Alta, Deer Valley, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, June Mountain, Mammoth Mountain, Boyne, Sugarloaf, Snowshoe Mountain, Killington – Pico, Brighton and Snowbird.
The state ski trade associations have also pulled together guides helping to inform guests of skiing 2021/ 2022 operational changes.