“Ski-in, ski-out” lodging offers convenience that generally comes at healthy price tag. Even for lodging options farther from the lifts, the winter season demands the highest lodging rates in most ski towns.
However, for a few towns and regions with skiing, winter is actually the low season for tourists. In these destinations, lodging right on the slopes may still demand high rates, but good deals can be found at nearby hotels and condos looking to fill vacancies.
Here is a sampling of six ski destinations where more popular summer attractions mean skiers can find lodging at a seasonal discount.
1. Northern Michigan
Relatively cool summer temperatures draw the masses to places such as Mackinac Island in northern Michigan. In the winter, Boyne Mountain, Boyne Highlands and Nub’s Nob are a few ski areas close to affordable lodging in the towns of Petoskey and Harbor Springs. One high-end option, The Inn at Bay Harbor in the Petoskey area, offers steep discounts in the winter. The winter rates there are 35 to 50 percent less than peak summer rates.
2. Taos/ Santa Fe
The warmer months bring visitors to northern New Mexico for the unique adobe architecture and art galleries in both Taos and Santa Fe. Taos Ski Valley is located less than 20 miles from the town of Taos. While winter is obviously peak season right at the ski resort, the season translates into less expensive prices in town. For example, a weekend in March at the Hampton Inn Taos is about $10 a night cheaper than a weekend in July.
Located 16 miles north of downtown Santa Fe, Ski Santa Fe does not have any on-slope lodging, so hotels in town are the only choice. Fortunately, for skiers on a budget, the seasonal factor means really nice hotels in the charming city can be found for affordable prices. Rooms at the lovely Hotel Chimayo de Santa Fe generally cost around $100 per night in the winter, compared to more than $200 a night in the summer. Make a reservation there with the code “SKI” and the winter package includes a fourth night free.
3. Mt. Hood
The tallest mountain in Oregon has three major ski areas either on its flanks or in its immediate vicinity: Mt. Hood Meadows, Timberline Lodge and Mt. Hood Skibowl. Other than closing briefly for maintenance, Timberline Lodge actually stays open for skiing year-round to allow for summer ski-racing camps. For most tourists, hiking and climbing are big summertime attractions.
Located from 15 to 30 minutes down the highway from the Mt. Hood ski areas, winter rates at The Resort at The Mountain are generally lower than their summer rates. Due to the elevation difference, the resort’s golf courses don’t completely close for the winter, so golf is often a surprising wintertime option.
4. Quebec City
The cultural attractions of Quebec City draw hoards of visitors in summer. However, four nearby ski areas make the Canadian city an excellent “off-season” destination. Located 30 minutes from the city, Mont-Sainte-Anne is known for great views of the St. Lawrence River. Also overlooking the St. Lawrence, Le Massif de Charlevoix has a vertical drop of 2,625 feet—the country’s largest east of the Rockies. Stoneham Mountain Resort and Le Relais Centre both feature expansive night skiing.
The seasonal difference in lodging rates for Quebec City hotels can be amazing. For example, the iconic Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac goes from a starting rate of about $170 for a weekend night in March to $580 a night in July.
A famous narrow-gauge rail tour to Silverton and back brings lots of summertime visitors to Durango. (A shorter rail tour does run in the winter.) Mountain biking, hiking and whitewater rafting are just a few of the other popular summertime activities in southwest Colorado. In the winter, Purgatory Resort about 30 minutes north of town is the attraction for skiers and snowboarders.
More hikers, rafters, bikers, train riders and such fill the town’s hotels in the summer, than skiers do in the winter. Once again, that’s good news for skiers. Durango’s historic Strater Hotel starts at $124 a night for a March weekend of spring skiing, compared to $209 a night in July.
Glacier National Park is the big draw to Whitefish, Montana. Considering that most of the park’s facilities are only open in the warmer months, summer is the high season for Whitefish tourism. Once known as Big Mountain, Whitefish Mountain Resort attracts skiers and boarders in the winter. They benefit from cheaper lodging rates in town. For instance, the March versus July weekend comparison for the Pine Lodge comes out to $89 a night in March compared to $179 in July. Opening in downtown Whitefish in the summer of 2016, the Firebrand Hotel will be a long-awaited boutique hotel option next ski season.