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.
Source - USA Today
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