Utah's ski resorts offer plenty of powder at affordable prices

By Bob Winter Feb 18, 2009
Utah's ski resorts offer plenty of powder at affordable prices

utah-poolx-large-400x600 (utah-poolx-large-400x600)In any other U.S. city, the sight of Andrew Babis and his son Carmine clutching skis, poles and boots at a downtown bus stop might draw double takes. But here outside the Sheraton in the bracing air and weak light of a Monday morning, they attract nary a glance.

Babis and son, who flew all the way from their home in Perth, Australia, to experience Utah's legendary powder and plunging slopes, saved on lodgings by staying in town. They didn't bother renting a car, because city buses service four ski areas about 40 minutes away. Midway through their nine-day trip, they discovered even greater savings when they bought a Salt Lake Super Pass, which offers discounted lift tickets at those four resorts, plus bus fare.

In a season in which ski areas from Maine to California are offering cost-saving balms to soothe the economically battered, Salt Lake City-area resorts remain a haven for value-conscious skiers. Eleven ski areas are within an hour of the airport. Competition among city hotels — particularly if you avoid visiting when major events are in town — bring substantial savings over slope-side lodgings. Public transit eliminates the need for a rental car, an added bonus for inexperienced snow drivers. The city offers diversions on days when weary skiers want a break. And the Super Pass offers savings and flexibility.

Last-minute deals are abundant this year, says Adrienne Ruderman of Alta Vacations: "We have a top home rental at Alta that's never available, and it's open for Washington's birthday week."

On the budget end of the spectrum, her company can book five nights at an economy motel with four days of lift tickets and transportation for $98 a person a night, double. As with most deals, there are tradeoffs. After a day on the slopes, boarding a bus back to town rather than relaxing in the après-ski comfort of ski-in/ski-out digs can be a pain. And Salt Lake lacks the concentrated nightlife of Park City, a town that caters to three mountain resorts.

None of that matters to Babis and other bargain-seekers, however.

"The lift tickets are $52 vs. (up to) $72. You can ski at four places. And the bus stops here. What's to lose?" he says, climbing aboard the bus toward the snowcapped ridges of the Wasatch Mountains.

Follow the link for a look at the four Super Pass resorts, which lie about 25 miles east of Salt Lake in Big Cottonwood and Little Cottonwood canyons.

Source - USA Today