How To Ski Without Breaking the Bank - Part 1 : Lift Tickets
Skiing has long been regarded, along with hockey and golf, as one of the most expensive sports. Lift tickets, equipment, and travel to faraway destinations: all of these costs add up and make skiing a strain on one's wallet. Increasingly, however, there are many ways to save serious money without giving up very much. By spending a few extra minutes or making a few tiny sacrifices, you can have the same skiing experience for significantly less coin. Since the majority of costs associated with skiing are lift tickets and equipment, this two-part series will focus on these expenses. Part 1 will explore and provide tips on how to save money on lift tickets, while Part 2 will focus on how to your money in your wallet which purchasing equipment.
Today, with omnipresent technology and ski centers turning towards the Internet, it is possible to save money on lift tickets in manners that have not existed before. Furthermore, with today's demographics and changing climate, ski centers must increasingly find ways to augment the industry's stagnant numbers. For the customer, this means there are new deals that have never before been available in vast abundance. The following are some money-saving techniques that can be used by (almost) anybody at most ski centers in the Montreal region and beyond.
Season Passes: "How can season passes possibly save me money?", one may ask. "They cost 500$ or more!" For the frequent skier who skis at the same mountain, however, they make perfect sense. On average, it takes 10-15 days of skiing to make a season's pass viable compared to purchasing daily lift tickets. If you ski less frequently or only on specific days, many ski hills offer different types of passes at a lower cost: weekday-only passes (Monday to Friday), evening-only passes (3 PM to closing, for example), 50% ticket cards (a pass where day tickets are 50% off), variable discount cards (a different discount every day, usually varying from 10% to 50%), 1 day out 7 passes (a pass valid every Monday, or every Tuesday, etc…), and many more!
Buying Season Passes Early: Most ski hills allow customers to purchase their season passes early, usually in August or September, and obtain a sizeable discount. Some even allow clients to buy them at the end of the prior season for the next. For someone who knows ahead of time they will be skiing, why not pursue this option? Then, during the traditionally expensive holiday season, there will be one less cost.
Maneige Provincial Pass: For the extremely avid skier, Maneige, which is an organization operating in tandem with the ASSQ, sells a provincial ski pass which can be used an unlimited amount of times at over 65 ski hills in Quebec. For roughly 1500$, it offers very good value for skiers who enjoy skiing over 30 times per season at different resorts. For students in Grade 4 and 5, as a way to encourage young people to pursue physical activity, Maneige offers a snow pass booklet for a very, very low cost, which includes free lift tickets to ski hills all over the province, discounted food, free equipment rentals, ski lessons, etc…
RFID Cards: For the past few years, Mont Saint Sauveur and its sister ski hills (Mont Avila, Mont Gabriel, Morin Heights, Mont Olympia) have used electromagnetic cards which fit in your pocket as lift tickets. When one first visits a mountain, they must purchase one of these cards, which is then valid for 5 years. If you visit one of these mountains, instead of misplacing or discarding of the RFID card, put in a safe place (ski jacket pocket, wallet, glove box, etc…). Then, the next time you visit, you instantly save 5$ by re-using the same card.
Purchasing Tickets Online: With the advent of the Internet, many ski centers now offer skiers the option of purchasing tickets online. There are two main benefits to doing this: not having to wait in the ticket line, and, more importantly, saving money! Many hills who offer tickets online offer considerable discounts, which are often a percentage of the ticket cost (10% or 15%, for example), or a fixed amount (4$ or 6$, for instance).
Liftopia: Liftopia is a discount ski ticket website based in California. They sell discount lift tickets for future days of skiing, and offer discounts anywhere from 5% to 65% depending on how far in advance the ticket is purchased. They do not offer discounted tickets for all mountains, and, rather, have rotating offers for discounted tickets. The benefit to this system is that tickets can be heavily discounted (up to 65% off), but, on the negative side, they are not available for all ski resorts and must be purchased far in advance in order to benefit from large discounts.
Costco: For those who have a membership card, Costco sells a wide variety of ski tickets in-store and online. In-store, their selection varies wildly, and they usually offer discounts or tickets for one or two resorts at any given time. Their online store offers a wider selection. Their offers range from discounted tickets (25% to 30%, usually) that can be used at any time during the season, to E-cards or gift cards, which can then be used to buy tickets (a 100$ gift card for 75$, for example).
Weekly Offers: Today, the vast majority of ski hills in the Montreal region offer highly discounted tickets on certain days of the week or at certain times. If you are willing or able to ski at an unconventional time, there are great discounts to be had. Many hills, for example, offer a men's day or women's day on a weekday every week where ski tickets cost a fixed price of 20$, for example, for the specified gender. Some hills that have night skiing often offer an evening ticket (3 or 4 PM to closing, for instance) for a very low rate (12$, 14$, etc…) on Sunday or Monday evenings, which are traditionally very quiet times for ski centers.
CAA Member's Discount: One discount few people are aware of is the CAA member's discount. Many hills in the region offer discounts of a significant value (anywhere from 10% to 20%) for members of the Canadian Automobile Association. This discount is not widely advertised, so if you have a membership, check beforehand to see if your destination offers a discount. There is a good chance they do!