Airlines cut fares temporarily |

Airlines cut fares temporarily

Most major airlines have cut fares slightly into Eagle County and Denver, just in time for Friday's opening of the ski season

With snow pounding the Vail Valley, early season skiing conditions are getting better and so did early season airline prices.Delta Airlines and most major carriers cut leisure fares on flights through Dec. 12. The deals dont apply to the busiest days around Thanksgiving and may sell out quickly. The timing of the fare sale caught analysts off-guard, coming just over a week after Delta and American Airlines raised fares on most of their U.S. routes.I see good fares in Eagle and Denver, said Jan Strauch of Overland and Express Travel in Edwards and Avon as he checked his computer lists. The rates are 10-15 percent less than a few weeks ago.American a unit of AMR Corp. Continental Airlines Inc., UAL Corp.s United Airlines, Northwest Airlines Corp., US Airways Group Inc. and JetBlue Airways Corp. matched the fare sale on Monday. Two weeks ago, Southwest Airlines Co. launched a sale through March, but the Dallas-based carrier cut some fares again to match Delta, said spokeswoman Beth Harbin.It bodes well for the community for the immediate future, Strauch said. We have snow and that should help fill up the planes, but the airlines seem to want to get a jump start on the season.On Nov. 2, American and Delta imposed a broad $10 per round trip fare increase on business and leisure fares. The increase was matched by most other U.S. carriers.U.S. airlines have enacted nearly two dozen widespread fare increase in the past two years, according to analysts. Airlines say they need higher fares to cover the cost of jet fuel.

Once youre here youll want to stay somewhere preferably indoors.You can save up to 40 percent on lodging and skiing starting on Fridays opening day through Dec. 13. The lodging/skiing package will run you $306 if four of you stay in a two bedroom condo. You have to buy it online seven days in advance at jump to $535 for five days and five nights if four of you stay in a two-bedroom condo. Book it at ahead and volunteer to work weekends and take your days off in the middle of the week.Heres why.You can ski three days and stay three nights for $214 per person, if four of you stay in a two-bedroom condo during the week. You have to purchase this one seven days in advance, too, and it ends Dec. 13 so get moving.If you cant make the early season specials, hang in there until just after the first of the year. From Jan. 4 through Feb. 7, the three-day/three-night mid-week deal jumps up to $286 per person. Its based on availability, although the snow is usually more dependable a month and a half into the ski season.If it has to be March, when the snow is at its best, youll pay about $378 for that three-day deal. The same advance-purchase restrictions apply.

If youre looking for something a little more upscale, the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch was just named among the nations 93 best hotels, chosen from more than 60,000 AAA rated properties across the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.The Ritz was one of three Colorado hotels that earned the hospitality industrys top designation for 2007, the AAA Five Diamond Award. Colorados other two were the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs and the Little Nell in Aspen.The Broadmoor was chosen for the 31st consecutive year and is one of only three hotels in the nation who has maintained the distinction since the Diamond ratings were first applied to hotels. The Little Nell was chosen for the 16th consecutive year; the Ritz-Carlton was selected for the second consecutive year.It takes every department functioning on all cylinders to achieve this distinction, said Ritz Carlton spokesman Steven Holt. Its the commitment to service that makes the difference.Twenty-eight Colorado hotels received the Four Diamond rating, including The Lodge at Vail. Both the Brown Palace Hotel & Spa in Denver and the General Palmer Hotel in Durango received the award for the 31st consecutive year.While there are no restaurants in Colorado that made the Five Diamond Award list, 25 Colorado restaurants received the Four Diamond Award. The restaurant with the greatest longevity on this list is The Flagstaff House Restaurant in Boulder, with 18 consecutive years. New to the Four Diamond Award list for restaurants in Colorado are the Summit in Colorado Springs, and Vails Restaurant Kelly Liken and the Wildflower in The Lodge at Vail.To become AAA Approved and Diamond rated, hotels and restaurants go through an inspection by one of AAAs 65 full time, professional evaluators.AAA first started listing accommodation information in its travel publications in the early 1900s. In 1937, the first field inspectors were hired to inspect hotels, motels, and restaurants.In 1963, AAA began to rate all accommodations as good, very good, excellent or outstanding.Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado CO

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