Some Information for our International Guests:
If you are travelling to Colorado for the first time, it may seem a little daunting to begin with, but the process of planning your perfect holiday is actually very simple. The main thing that you need is a little local knowledge and advice to make the best decisions for you and your family, friends or group. That's where we come in! We live and work in "Ski Country USA", not an office on the High Street of your Town. You know about your local area - we know about ours!
Based centrally, right at the top of the Rocky Mountains in Frisco, Colorado, we are only 70 miles west of Denver, and a million miles away from the hubbub of the big city. We have 5 world class ski resorts within a 30 minute drive, and we like to visit the rest of the areas during season just to check out the new developments (it gives us the excuse to go on our own ski vacations too!).
Generally, the best, and most cost effective way to plan your trip is on an "a la carte" basis. That is, to book only the elements of a package that you need. There are a lot of hidden fees in those "package" prices.
1) Lodging: The biggest single decision is on your selection of accommodation(s). This can seem like an impossible task when you consider all of the choices that exist, but that can be narrowed down fairly quickly. The best way to get started is to decide exactly what it is that you are trying to acheive - Ask yourself a few questions first:
- Do I want to ski multiple resorts?
- Do I want to change locations during the trip (i.e. do I want a multi-centred holiday)?
- Do I need to stay on the slopes or would I accept a shuttle bus trip or drive to ski?
- Do I need to be staying in the resort proper, or would one of the surrounding towns work?
- Do I want hotel style rooms or condos (with full kitchens and living rooms)?
- How many people are going to come?
- How many separate beds and bedrooms will I need?
- If you have a large group, then: Do I need multiple units? If so, how many?
- What is my accommodation budget? (Don't Forget: Airfare, Ski Passes, Ski Hire, Food/Drink etc.)
- What are my additional requirements for amenities (hot tubs, swimming pools, workout rooms etc.)?
- What am I looking for quality-wise (high end, luxury, mid-range, budget)?
- What will be my exact arrival and departure dates?
Once you have the answers to the above questions it's time to get started... Given your criteria above, get the lodging and flights booked first. After that, all of the rest will be fairly easy. Remember too, that generally the average ski trip for an American family will entail a 3 or 4 night stay. For International travellers it is usually 7 to 14 nights. The local lodging companies base their pricing on the shorter stays, so we can often negotiate better pricing on your behalf based on length of stay.
2) Getting Here: Transportation from the airport is next... Will you need a car hire or will a resort shuttle work? Either of them, can be provided to all of the resorts. Remember if you are going to hire a car that you will want to check out your insurance coverage for North America - it will often have an additional fee, or not be covered at all - so factor in for insurance coverage as well as the price of the car!
3) Ski Passes are next on the agenda! Given the shorter stays for local guests mentioned above, the ski passes are priced on the same basis, and most resorts will offer significant discounts to International guests in order to win your patronage for an extended stay. Check out our International pricing. Make sure to order these well in advance to make sure they get to you in time!
4) Ski Hire: The final part of the puzzle is equipment hire. Your choice of ski shop will usually be based on your lodging choice and location, not the ski resort. Remember too that ski hire is cheaper in the surrounding towns (because shop rents are too), so that may also affect your shop selection.
5) Activities: Once you have got to this point, the only other thing you may want to consider is any other activities for your trip (snowmobile tours, sleigh rides etc.). It is always a lot more relaxing when you get here to have all of that planning done from home. Then you can just get on with your holiday!
Some general notes that may also help:
- Most resorts are at least 7,000' (~2,150m) above sea level, some 9,600' (~3,000m). This means that you will need some time to acclimatize. Don't expect to be on top form right off the bat!
- You will be dehydrated from the flight, then by coming up to altitude, so start hydrating before you even board the flight. Keep drinking water - it will help significantly when you get into the resort.
- Once at altitude, increase carbohydrate intake, limit fat and protein intake, decrease salt intake, decrease caffeine, and avoid alcohol (at least drink water with it!), get plenty of rest, and take it a bit easy for the first day or two.
- The UV radiation is extremely strong at altitude. Wear sunscreen (SPF30+), good UV protecting sunglasses, and remember you have almost 100% reflection from the snow, so the underside of your nose, ears etc. will burn too!
- The temperatures at elevation can be very low (you will not always feel it because of the sun), often well below freezing. Wear good quality clothing and layer it. In some ski resorts you can be at almost 14,000' (~4,300m) when skiing - winds and wind chill can be very high. Exposed skin can get frostbitten. Take care to cover up.
- Make sure you have medical travel insurance, and know where your documents are at all times. Medical care can be VERY expensive, but also may be VERY necessary. Even ambulance rides must be paid for - and don't come cheap - be prepared!!!
- All condos will have a full kitchen with pots, pans, crockery, cutlery, utensils, coffee maker with filters etc. (Studios will have at least a kitchenette, hotel rooms - coffee pot)
- All condos will have all bedding, bath towels dish towels etc.
- Most condos will have a midweek clean with bins emptied, clean sheets etc.
- There may be a few "essentials" left in the condo (salt, coffee, sugar...) but the rest you will have to bring.
- If there are common area laundry facilities they may well be coin operated.
- Any displayed prices will not be inclusive of taxes - expect 5-20% additional on all items!
- Tipping is expected for most services - 10% is considered light, 15% is normal, 20% is not unusual for good service.
- Credit cards (Visa, Mastercard & Discover) are widely accepted everywhere. American Express is a little less widely accepted.
- ATM's will normally accept International Cirrus cards.
- ATM's will normally allow credit card advances to be withdrawn.
- Travellers cheques are widely accepted as cash.
- The emergency number in the USA is 911.
Peak Visitor Times :
- Xmas week is the busiest time to visit the ski areas, and the most expensive!
- Holiday weekends for Martin Luther King (mid January), Presidents Day (mid February), and US schools Spring Break (Mid Feb - end March) are the next busiest and next most expensive periods.
- Early season (mid November - Xmas), is a good time to visit, but the snow conditions will be unpredictable. The week before Dec 20th is the best bet.
- From about Jan 4th to Feb 15th is another good and less expensive period, but it can be cold on the mountains!
- From the start of April until closing is a great time to ski. It is sometimes the best snow of the year, it is warm and the prices are cheap! Aim for the higher elevation resorts though.
- The minimum age for buying alcohol or consuming alcoholic beverages in the USA is 21.
- Beer, wine and spirits may be purchased at liquor stores until 2 am Monday to Saturday.
- Closing time at bars and restaurants is limited to latest 2 am on any night of the week.
- A valid form of photo ID (passport or international driver's license, etc.) may be required to purchase alcohol or for entry to bars and nightclubs.
- The minimum age for buying tobacco products in the USA is 18.
- Many towns and counties in Colorado have smoking bans in public places, so all bars and restaurants in those areas will be non-smoking.
- If the establishment is non-smoking it will generally have a designated smoking area, but this may also be outside!
- Almost all condos will also be non-smoking.
- A stop sign means exactly that - you must come to a COMPLETE stop! Yield signs are the same as "Give Ways".
- Carry your drivers license, proof of insurance and registration documents at all times - you are required to show them to authorities if requested.
- At a "4 way" stop, it's first come first served, if you both arrived at the same time, the car to the right has the right of way.
- Solid lines mean no passing.
- Speed limits on Interstates (Motorways/Autoroutes/Autobahns) vary just like "Highways", they are not fixed, so know what the limit is at all times.
- Passing on the RHS (inside) is not advised, but is common practice - keep your eyes open.
- Pedestrians have right of way on "Crosswalks" the same as "Zebra Crossings".
- Routes, not roads are signposted. You may have to turn off of the current "road" to follow your "route"! Keep your eyes on the signs.
- Several "routes" may share the same stretch of "road". Keep an eye out for your number!
- Street numbers generally refer to their "block" - 220 Main Street, will be on the "200 Block", often between the "2nd" and "3rd" cross streets.
- Many areas have alphabetic block systems (cross streets will be named in alphabetical order).
- Roads will be marked by mile markers (exit 201 is at mile marker 201, which is 201 miles from the start of the road or the state line). You know how far you are from your destination by watching the markers.
- When driving in the mountains, don't rely on 4 wheel drive and anti-lock brakes to keep you safe on icy roads. Keep your distance, and stay in control. Beware of large lorries - when they start to slide they are hard to stop. They can also often overheat their brakes, and "runaway trucks" are not uncommon.