Beat the post-holiday blues, get fit, and ski vacation on the cheap with a January ski getaway.
Photo: Stowe Resort
January 2nd is a big day for ski resorts: not because big crowds are coming, but because of the mass exodus that takes place in (literally) a single day, making the transition from the busiest time of ski season to the slowest, which is January. The locals tend to love it, and for good reason: slopes are empty, lift lines don't exist, and there's so much more powder to go around. But as ski vacationers, you should love it too: you'll find some of the best deals for lodging, lift tickets, and airfare, as well as fun festivals and personalised attention in ski lessons. Keep reading for 17 reasons to book a January ski vacation.
No Lift Lines
Forget about 45 minute waits in line like most of us experienced over the Christmas holidays: January brings the sweet serenity of empty lift corrals and more laps than your legs will want to handle. Besides special times like Martin Luther King Weekend, expect little to no waits – especially if you take a sick day and head to the resorts mid-week.
January brings big snow storms across the Rocky Mountain West, Tahoe, and sometimes New England. Because of fewer crowds, there's more powder to go around – which means you won't be fighting for fresh tracks at 8am: you'll be basking in free refills all day. It's not uncommon to find powder stashes in the trees up to a week after a January storm. Enjoy.
Bars and restaurants love to get customers in during the low of the winter season, which is January. Expect superb happy hour deals and freebies, as well as drink reps making rounds in the slopeside bars and lodges promoting their products with free samples and swag.
No crowds mean no lift lines, as well as empty slopes. This is a huge perk for beginners who want safer learning environments, and experts who want to cruise down steep pistes without having to dodge other skiers. The quality of intermediate slopes stays strong throughout the day.
Ski towns are dominated by locals in January, which makes for laid-back mountain town pace and an enjoyable peak into the true culture of the place. This is a great time to kick back with an après beer and listen to local lore, chat it up with shopkeepers, and attend a few town events.
Best Lodging Deals
Hotels offer big deals to fill empty rooms in January, so be on the lookout for up to 40% off, bonus free nights, upgrades, and the works. There are also great deals on chalets and slopeside homes. Search our site for the best deals available.
Lift Ticket Prices
Major resorts like Vail and Jackson Hole are now setting records for highest lift ticket prices (a one-day ticket over the holidays will cost you a cool $179 USD ($251 AUD)). But January blows in with slightly discounted rates at many areas, which means you can still ski the legendary resorts. Check online and purchase 1 week ahead for the best discounts.
Travel may not ever feel "easy," but compared to the hustle and bustle of holidays, whisking through airports should be a breeze in the first month of the year. Chances of lost bags and hassles are few compared to Christmas week; providing the weather cooperates, air traffic schedules also run more smoothly.
With fewer crowds and discounted rates across the board, January is the ideal month for the group ski vacation. If your family is not locked into the school vacation cycle, spend a week or ten days in the chaos-free mountains when the masses are back at home. Between ample lodging, restaurant, and activities availability, this is the stress-free time for great vacations with groups.
A January ski trip is the way to beat the post-holiday blues. After the excitement of Christmas and New Year's (and the long wait until spring), moods tend to drop. Embrace the cold, the snow, and the mountains by passing the time with a ski vacation. Hit the spa, shop the post-holiday deals, eat fabulous food: it's all available at top ski resorts.
Scope your favorite ski towns for festivals, like Telluride's Fire Festival and the Sundance Film Festival in Park City. One of the perks of a month of no holidays is that mountain towns can fit in all the other great celebrations they think up. Did we mention the X Games in Aspen?
If work or kids are keeping you at home, consider a quick weekend getaway to a local area. Weekend ski trips are great ways to keep up your skills and have some on-hill thrills between major vacations. For the Denver area, we love Aspen; and for New Englanders, Stowe.
New Rental Equipment
If you're considering renting your gear on your ski vacation, going early season is best: you basically get to use the newest gear, in its newest condition, at very little cost. Rental shops tend to be much more flexible after the holidays because there's no shortage of equipment for guests, so you'll likely be able to try everything they carry in the shop (and in excellent condition!)
Empty Ski Schools
Showing up for a group lesson – especially midweek – in the low month of January often means getting a private or semi-private lesson. January is an excellent month for beginners especially because they get much more personal attention due to small group sizes. If you're advanced, consider a half-day lesson simply to get a tour of the all the secret stashes on the mountain.
Burn the holiday calories the fun way with an early 2017 ski vacation. While hitting the gym and stretching things out in yoga are a solid bet for a healthy start to the new year, skiing makes it so much more fun. And having fun while getting fit tends to produce better, long lasting results than arduous hours on the treadmill.
Easy Restaurant Reservations
Top restaurants at resorts like Beaver Creek and Telluride book out months in advance during peak periods; in January, the books are usually wide open. If the foodie-inspired ski getaway is your plan, now is the best time to do it.
Finally, don't forget that international ski vacations are not to be looked over by any serious ski vacationer. Consider January your month to visit the Alps or the Pyrenees, and especially Japan. There's a reason they call it Japow.
Want to get the skinny on all the January deals? Find the biggest discounts here.