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Savings on the Slopes
How to find the best discounts on the hills this winter.
Date: February 5, 2014
Author: Robert Staudhammer, SeniorDiscounts

This year we’ve had some of the coldest temperatures in decades and while many anxiously await spring’s warmer weather, for skiers, a cold winter can mean a great season on the slopes. Right now in The US and Canada, there are 369 ski areas open for business and many of them offer incentives to seniors.

According to the National Ski Areas Association, the 55-64 age group made up 12 percent of the total, up from nearly 5 percent from a few years ago, and those 65 and older rose to 5.5 percent from 2.5 percent. Senior skiers often get some of the best prices for season passes, especially midweek. Additionally, many ski areas offer discounts to seniors in hopes that it will entice them to bring their grandchildren to the hill. With your grandchildren or not, they’re great discounts to take advantage of.

What are the age requirements for senior discounts? Some ski areas keep it simple and provide a fixed discount on lift tickets to all people over a certain age, such as 25% off to all skiers/boarders over 55. But more commonly, you will see increasing discount amounts according to age. For instance, skiers over 70 may receive a greater discount than that provided to those in the 60-70 age group, while those in their 50s receive slightly less. It can still be a substantial discount, though, so it never hurts to ask. Many ski areas let those over 80 ski for free.

Discounts usually range between 15% off of the regular adult lift ticket price to completely free. Yes, that is correct—free! Some ski areas offer free skiing to select skiers that are of a certain age. People in their fifties and sixties can expect to see discounts of 15% to 75% off a daily ticket price and anywhere from 30% to 80% off season passes. Usually, the older you are, the better the discount. Free skiing and deeply discounted lift ticket rates are usually reserved for skiers in their seventies. To search for ski area discounts in your area, go to the SeniorDiscounts website and perform a search from the top of any page.

If you are not quite eligible for those senior discounts, check out ski areas’ season passes. Resorts are now offering a multitude of season passes, including value passes, local passes, multi-area passes, and senior passes. Often, you will only need to ski a couple of days to recoup its cost. If you are an avid skier or snow boarder, knowing which one is right for you can save you a lot of money. You may also find that you are just too young to qualify for the senior discount rate and a season pass could be a great alternative. Most of the discounted passes will have some restrictions like blackout dates or a limit on the number of days you can access the mountains. Senior passes tend to be some of the best, with few restrictions and major savings. For instance, on a season pass at Park City, Utah, skiers 65-69 can save $345 and skiers 70+ can save $500. Season passes may also provide discounts on other activities and purchases, such as; rentals, lessons, lodging, parking, and at local stores and restaurants. Always ask for further discounts offered.

Also, check out local grocery and retail stores in proximity to a ski area as many of them will sell discounted tickets to the mountains. You may also want to pick up a local paper when you arrive since many areas will publish daily coupons to inspire the partiers from the night before to hit the hill.

Discounts can also be found on lessons and rentals. Many areas provide ski programs that are specifically designed for older skiers and reduced in price. One may also find discounts on ski rentals, but typically only with those rental shops owned by the mountain. These discounts may only be available in conjunction with a package deal that comes with your lift ticket. People over age 65 get a 10% discount at the national chain Modell's Sporting Goods when they ask and show ID. Independently owned ski shops typically do not have deals for the mature market, but it never hurts to ask.

Looking for lift ticket discounts and camaraderie with your peers on the slopes? Join a senior ski club. The Over the Hill Gang International and the 70+ Ski Club are just two of the many clubs available. These clubs provide discounted prices and rentals, fun trips, and most importantly friends to ski with. Each charges an annual fee for membership and offers a great deal of perks.

Over the Hill Gang International individual memberships are $60 annually and lifetime memberships are $515 (ages 50-62) and $345 (ages 63+). Couples’ memberships are $100 annually and lifetime memberships are $855 (ages 50-62) and $575 (ages 63+). You can find more information on their website: http://othgi.com/ct-menu-item-2.html

The minute you hit 70, you qualify for the 70+ Ski Club. Among the benefits you get for annual dues of $15 ($18 for couples) are a club jacket patch, a newsletter and a directory of slopes in the United States and Canada that offer free or discounted lift tickets to older skiers. You can find more information on their website: http://www.70plusskiclub.org/. Another good idea is to contact your local ski area to find regional senior ski clubs near you.

Discounts aren't limited to the ski resort. You can typically find seasonal discounts on other activities in the area as well, like snowmobiling, ice skating, or cross-country skiing. And the age requirements are usually lower than those on the mountain.

The majority of ski areas have web sites, and one can find the senior rates listed there. When booking a trip, be sure to ask about multiple day prices, especially for those who may not yet qualify for a discount. Some ski areas even have special senior packages that include airfare, lodging, lift tickets, rentals, and lessons. Many areas are now offering package deals for grandparents and can include free room for the kids and discounts lessons. Take advantage!

So get out there, enjoy the slopes, and save some money while having fun.

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