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  • In Search of A Bargain Holiday Vacation

    by Mitch Kaplan

    Photo courtesy Ascutney It’s hard to find a great bargain at ski resorts during prime holiday time. But, a family ski trip doesn’t necessarily have to cost an arm and a leg. With a bit of digging, you can sometimes uncover a diamond in the rough.

    Here are a few examples.

  • Ascutney Mountain Resort, VT. With the Christmas at Ascutney package, when guests stay slopeside any four, five or six consecutive nights between Dec. 23-28, 2006, they enjoy a white Christmas with all the traditional trimmings. Package includes lodging in a slopeside condominium, lift tickets, Christmas dinner for the family, plus the "Family Bonus Plan" for added value, typically only offered during non-holiday periods. The package pricing per person, per night for adult $136, junior $116. Info:

  • 320 Guest Ranch, Big Sky, MT. The historic 320 Guest Ranch has announced their Great Value Ski Packages. For the first time ever, the 320 Guest Ranch winter ski packages feature a choice of skiing the Olympic slopes of Big Sky or the new greens, blues and blacks at Moonlight Basin. Packages include a full day lift ticket, access to the free shuttle to the ski mountain, lodging in cozy, modern cabin accommodations, nightly bonfire, all taxes, and a continental breakfast each morning. Children 10 and under stay free at 320 Guest Ranch and ski free at both Big Sky and Moonlight Basin. Pricing, per night: the Big Sky Great Value Ski Package—from $150 single occupancy; $234, double occupancy; $318, triple occupancy and $402 quad occupancy; the Moonlight Basin Ski Package Ranch - from $115 single occupancy; $159, double occupancy; $203, triple occupancy and $247 quad occupancy. Photo courtesy 320 Ranch Info:

  • Vail, CO, with Rocky Mountain Tours. For those who like a touch of luxury but still want high value, this national ski tour operator offers custom packages Vail. From December 19-24, 2006, a family of four (2 adults, 2 children under 12) can enjoy five nights’ lodging in a fully equipped one-bedroom/two-bath unit at the Vail 21 Condominiums, set just 75 yards from the LionsHead Gondola and children's ski school, with four-day Vail/Beaver Creek lift tickets for a total cost of $3087, lodging tax included. Info:

    Sunday River, ME. The "Perfect Kids" programs feature a separate learning area. The resort has three licensed daycare facilities for children 6 weeks to 6 years. The White Cap Fun Center has a tubing park, ice skating arena and arcade. The Black Diamond Family Entertainment Series is offered during vacation periods. And, they say they’ll practically guarantee a white Christmas thanks to their snowmaking system. Christmas "Ski and Stay" packages begin at $85 pp/pn from December 17-25 and at $115 pp/pn during December 26-31, three-night minimum. Children 5 and under are free as long as the maximum occupancy rate for the package is met, and packages include slopeside lodging, daily adult lift tickets, and free daily adult Perfect Turn clinics. Info:

    The Fairmont Chateau Frontenac at night. Photo courtesty of Fairmont Resorts

  • Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, Quebec City, Que. Discover Old Québec and its celebrated joie de vivre. The Experience Winter Package includes: one night's accommodation in a Fairmont room; full buffet breakfast at Le Café de la Terrasse; one day ski lift ticket at a choice of Mont Sainte-Anne or Stoneham. Rates start from C$369 (US$321) per room, per-night, double occupancy. Info:

  • Mont Tremblant, Que. In this part of French Canada, a "build your own package" is offered. It includes two to five nights’ lodging, two to five days of skiing, a guided tour of the mountain on skis or snowboard, parking and discounts on optional activities like a 30-minute relaxation massage at Amerispa and testing out "new generation" skis or snowboards for a day; or a 90-minute, "refresh your skills session" group ski or board lesson and a one-hour evening sleigh ride. Between December 22 and January 2, with a five-night minimum stay, prices begin at C$199 (US$181) per person, per night, based on double occupancy. Info:

  • The Pollard Hotel, Red Lodge, MT. The 39-room Pollard Hotel, built in 1893 and once the stomping grounds of Calamity Jane and Buffalo Bill, is situated in Red Lodge's historic district. The Pollard has teamed up with Red Lodge Mountain Resort, six miles away, to offer enticing ski packages for families. All packages include accommodations; ski lift tickets; a la carte breakfast; free use of the health club and ski lockers; complimentary high-speed wireless internet; and in-room movies. Family Downhill Ski Package includes three nights in a Double Queen Victorian Style Room, two full days at Red Lodge Mountain, full American breakfast each morning and free high speed wireless internet and in-room movies for $695 quad occupancy. Info:

    Shanty Creek Resort & Club, MI. With a plethora of kids’ programs, Shanty Creek is all about families. The Value Ski Package 3-Days/2-Nights is valid from Dec. 22-25, 2006; it includes: two nights’ lodging, three-day lift ticket, and all taxes. Children 17 and under sleep and ski for free when in same accommodations with parents(maximum four children per room); price for two adults, two kids: $328 in a standard guest room; $492 in a one-bedroom condo. The Holiday Ski Package 4-Days/3-Nights is valid any three nights from Dec. 26-31, 2006 and includes: three nights’ lodging, four day lift ticket, and all taxes; price for two adults, two kids: $1006 in standard guest room; $1270 in one-bedroom condo. Info:; 800-678-4111.

  • Boyne Mountain, MI. Over the holidays, a five-night package with lifts and lodging for two adults and two kids start at $320.60 per night in a standard hotel room. Info:

    Want more on winter family fun? Be sure to sign up for our e-newsletter to get the latest on winter family travel & gear deals, plus tips to make your life easier! Ollie in!

    JOIN THE RIPPIN' RIDERS TEAM!!! . If you rip.. or want to... be a product tester. Join the Rippin' Riders Team for deals, discounts, and first shot at testing new product.

    ...... Mitch Kaplan is the author of The Unofficial Guide to the Mid-Atlantic with Kids, The Cheapskate’s Guide to Myrtle Beach and The Golf Book of Lists. He is a contributor to The Unofficial Guide to New England & New York with Kids and to the annual guide Ski America & Canada.

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