A bright spot for today's travelers is the low rates available at high-end properties. Even as the economy picks up, it's still possible (if you play your planning cards right) to enjoy the lifestyle of the rich and famous -- without being either.
Your first step is to be flexible. Consider traveling in off-peak times such as early December or April (sometimes even early January and early February), and try to book midweek, when rates are often substantially lower. You can also save money by bundling lodging with airfare, lift tickets, and other activities, using central reservations websites such as snow.com or calling Vail Resorts' travel experts at 877-204-7881
The second key is to stay informed: Bookmark the websites of your dream properties, become a Facebook fan, and subscribe to newsletters when possible. For example, get great offers for The Arrabelle at Vail Square, A RockResort, and other elegant RockResorts sent right to your inbox by visiting rockresorts.com; at the top righthand corner,
enter your email address under "Special Offers." You'll receive updates on deals such as Holidays on Us or Spring Break on Us -- which include a free night when you book two or more nights at a RockResorts hotel -- and Three for Free, which grants guests a free night, a $50 gift card and use of free gear (like an action/helmet camcorder). Subscribers are also extended exclusive offers , such as Early Bird advance-purchase booking specials, that can add up to huge savings.
RockResorts' lavish ski-country properties include the European-style is Arrabelle at Vail Square, which sets the standard for service with luxuries such as personal concierges; The Lodge at Vail, an ideally situated slopeside property that recently added one of the premier spas in the Vail Valley; The Pines Lodge in Beaver Creek, featuring upscale mountain décor in a quiet setting; The Osprey at Beaver Creek, a chic boutique hotel just a few steps from the Strawberry Park Express lift; and one of the newest members of the RockResorts family, One Ski Hill Place at Breckenridge's Peak 8, which opened in June .
An even more recent addition to the ski-country luxury pool is The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Vail and The Ritz-Carlton Club, Vail. Debuting this fall, The Residences offer 71 homes ranging from two to six bedrooms and featuring the finest of fine appointments, as anyone would expect who's visited its sister property in Beaver Creek, The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch. The Ritz-Carlton Club, Vail also features 45 units devoted to fractional ownership.
Keystone fans will find high-end ski-in/ski-out accommodations at The Timbers and Lone Eagle condominium properties, as well as the Keystone Lodge & Spa, which features fabulous restaurants and a selection of activities at the Lakeside Village.
At Heavenly on the California side, the Marriott Grand Residence Club Lake Tahoe is nestled at the base of the Heavenly Gondola. Marriott's luxurious studios and one, two and three-bedroom accommodations are perched atop lively retail shops and eateries in the Heavenly Village. Most feature kitchen, living/dining area, master bedroom, and bath with oversized tub, fireplace and more (call 1-800-Heavenly).
One caveat before you reserve your deluxe accommodations: Once you've tasted the good life, you might find there's no going back.
(Reprinted from PEAKS Winter 2010-11, the magazine of Vail Resorts.)