There are deals to be had this month in ski country |

There are deals to be had this month in ski country

Janet Urquhart/The Aspen Times

Colorado ski resorts are offering better deals than usual to try to improve dim prospects for business in March.

Resorts always offer deals to spur business, but this year they have been more creative with their packages, according to Jennifer Rudolph, a spokeswoman for Colorado Ski Country USA, a state ski trade association. The typical deal combines lift tickets and lodging. This year, resorts are throwing in specials on everything from air fares to ski rentals, Rudolph said.

The Aspen Skiing Co. and its marketing partners have extended their “perfect storm” package. Travelers who purchase four nights of lodging and four days of lift tickets get to stay and ski free for a fifth day and night. The deadline to book is March 19, but the offer is good through the end of ski season on April 12.

Earlier in the season the Skico and its partners offered packages that included air fare discounts from Frontier.

Aspen isn’t the only big-name resort offering a deal. Telluride is offering up lodging deals for as much as $200 off normal ski season rates at Mountain Village Resort. Crested Butte is offering condominiums at select properties for $93 per night per person. Arapahoe Basin is offering spring passes that offer unrestricted access for the rest of the season for as low as $109.

The ski areas under the Vail Resorts umbrella are also scrambling for business. Breckenridge is offering rooms from $80 per night in March. Keystone is offering a two-fer ” buy one night of lodging and a lift ticket and get the second day and night for free.

The bargains come toward the end of a tough season for the ski industry. Despite excellent snow conditions, the recession is hammering the travel industry. Skier visits at Colorado resorts were down about 8 percent through Dec. 31. March is usually a busy month when resorts start racking up profits, but advance reservations are down 29 percent compared to last year, according to the Mountain Travel Research Program, which gauges business at several western resorts.

“Many businesses, including those in the mountain travel industry, are reacting to consumers’ aversion to discretionary spending by rolling back prices on a variety of products and services to either move inventory or continue delivering services,” said Ralf Garrison, author of Mountain Travel’s monthly report on business in the resorts.

Garrison noted that business during the holidays was salvaged by strong last-minute bookings. The late bargain hunters didn’t materialize in January, and the outlook for February and March were “uncertain but not optimistic,” Garrison said in his report.

“These tough conditions for mountain resorts and communities translate into good news for skiers and riders: some of the best ski vacation bargains in nearly a decade,” Garrison said.

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