The Brave Ski Mom strategy for kids’ ski passes is similar to the adult strategy: figure out how many days you want to ski, where you want to ski and get the best deal (see Wednesday, August 25). Kids, however, can often get great deals, simply by virtue of being in school. Yes, there are student rate passes, but there are also grade-level and school district-related passes (at least where we live) and you want to be aware of them.
SCHOOL DISTRICT DISCOUNTS: Let’s start with the easy one. Many resorts have a published child or youth season ticket price, but a reduced price for kids who attend school in their county or an adjacent county. For example, Aspen/Snowmass just announced their season ticket prices. A child under age 12 can get a season pass for $499. For ages 12-17, the cost is $799. Or, a child enrolled in school in Pitkin County (where Aspen is) and several of the surrounding counties can get a pass at a much reduced rate. So, if you are new to the season ticket game and you live near a resort, make sure you ask about school district discounts. Get your kid to flash that school ID and you may save big bucks.
5TH AND 6TH GRADE PASSPORTS: In most states with ski resorts, there is a trade association which promotes skiing. In Colorado, it happens to be called Colorado Ski Country USA (CSCUSA).
Colorado Ski Country offers a variety of promotional programs, including the 5th and 6th grade Passport program. This program, which is in its 12th year, provides 5th graders with a FREE photo punch card that carries three days of skiing at 21 participating resorts throughout the entire ski season. For 2010-2011, 5th graders who haven’t skied before (or skied much) can also get a free lesson and free equipment rental during the month of January. The deal for 6th graders is different. 6th graders have to pay $99, but they get 4 days of free skiing at each of the 21 participating resorts. Parents of both 5th and 6th graders who are enrolled in this program have access to online coupons for lift ticket, rental, lesson and other discounts.
The only catch to all of this is that CSCUSA does limit the amount of passes they print. In 2009-2010, their website says over 15,000 students received these passes, so they are very generous with them. However, if you don’t want to miss out, sign up now to receive notification as to when the passes will be available. Apply quickly once the application process begins. Last year, we applied during the first week, but several resorts were open for several weeks before we had the 5th grade passport in hand (and who wants to pay for a ticket when you know you could be getting it for free?)
According to CSCUSA, other states such as Utah, California, New York, Vermont, Michigan and Wisconsin, have similar programs. No matter where you live, you should check with your state’s skiing association. If you can’t find an association, let me know. I’ll help you search. Also, these programs are usually limited to in-state students. If you live in New York, but vacation in Colorado, you are most likely out of luck trying to get a Colorado pass.
SCHOOL OF SHRED: The CSCUSA passes do not work at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge or Keystone. However, these resorts are not going to leave you out in the cold. If you bring a last-quarter 2009 4th or 5th grade report card or a first-quarter 2010 5th or 6th grade report card to one of their ticket locations by November 7, 2010, you will get a free pass that offers your student 4 free days of skiing at each of these four resorts and a free lesson and equipment rental. (While this specific offer pertains only to Colorado, other resorts in your state may offer a similar program. Just ask! And, if they don’t, tell them they should!)
Now, this all sounds easy enough, and it is if you live on the Front Range of Colorado. Vail Resorts has a large number of ticket outlets and special Labor Day ticket sales events in the Denver area (click here for a list).
If you live west of the Denver area however, you will have to go to the Vail or Beaver Creek ticket offices, report card in hand, before November 7, 2010. The ticket offices are open only on the weekends through September and October, from 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. They open for the winter on November 6, with daily hours from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (the Lionshead ticket office opens for the winter season one week earlier).
So that you don’t waste time and fuel getting to the offices, only to find out they are not open, or if you have questions, here are the relevant phone numbers: Vail Village: 970-754-4220; Lionshead: 970-754-4232; Beaver Creek: 970-745-5200.
Finally, I want to give a HUGE shout-out to Lesley at the Beaver Creek ticket office who very kindly and generously helped me sort through all this information. The School of Shred program changed this year and he took the time to find out the new rules and terms for me. Thank you Lesley.
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