Aspen ski deals key this season?
ASPEN, Colorado The economy is down, gas prices are up, and so are baggage fees. Whats a Colorado skier on a budget to do?Ski resorts certainly have noticed that it will take more than piles of champagne powder to attract snow riders; its also going to take some creative deals to bring in those with discretionary dollars.Earlier this month Vail Resorts announced its Baggage Bailout, which gives guests a $50 credit when they book a winter vacation for at least four nights, so long as they book the trip by Dec. 1. The special was in response to the national trend thats seeing an increasing number of commercial airlines tack on added baggage fees, among other charges.There are also deals to be had in Aspen. It just takes a little digging.Take the Internet auction site eBay, for example. On Friday, the Aspen Grand Hyatt, a five-star resort, was offering a four-night stay from Nov. 20 through Dec. 4. The starting bid was $101, or a consumer could plop down $350 and buy the stay immediately. That translates to less than 90 bucks a night.But those kind of deals are the cheapest of the cheap. Local tourism officials havent launched any eye-popping specials just yet, but Bill Tomcich, president of the central reservations agency Stay Aspen Snowmass, said its a matter of time before some local promotions are revealed.The timing needs to be right, he said.Typically optimistic about ski bookings, Tomcich said Friday that the economic backdrop has affected bookings of late.Its no secret that in the last two weeks weve seen a significant downturn in bookings, he said.Tomcich said the Aspen Skiing Co., local lodges and airlines will have to do something compelling and creative to draw visitors this season especially when other resorts are doing the same.Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle said the four-mountain operator, through blast e-mails and other means, is encouraging visitors to rent ski and snowboard equipment to keep costs down. And for the first time this season, those who book a minimum four night lodge and lift package with Stay Aspen Snowmass get a $25 credit toward equipment rental at Four-Mountain Sports. Reservations must be made by Jan. 11.Hanle said Skico has bulked up its rental inventory to meet the potential increase in demand.I think everyone is looking at creative ways to respond [to the economy] and well see that developing, he said.Late Friday, the remodeled Silvertree Hotel in Snowmass announced a special that gives a 20 percent discount on an entire stay (minimum three nights) between Nov. 26 and Dec. 23.Another Aspen-based company, Ski.com, has forged a partnership with Frontier Airlines. The arrangement allows customers to book everything from their flight, lodging, and lift tickets just by going to FrontierAirlines.com. The initiative was announced Oct. 1.Other Colorado resorts also are rolling out specials to combat high airfares and economic doldrums. Among them are: Those who participate in Crested Buttes Friends & Family Fly Free program buy two airline tickets and get their third one free. American Airlines is giving away one free childs ticket with the purchase on one adult ticket. Visitors to Vail are eligible for the deal. The Breckenridge chamber of commerce has a special called $96 at 9,600 feet, which gives visitors a $300 room for 96 bucks.
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