These days, buying a lift ticket is like being dealt a hand of cards and deciphering how best to play them. This season at Vermont’s ski areas you’ll come across special ticket deal cards named Magic, X2, Points, Passport, Fanfare, Club, and Express, to name just a few. Purchase one of these cards and you’ll get discounts on lift tickets and possibly other merchandise and services. Of note, is the Ski Vermont trade association sponsorship of free, introductory, learn-to-ski-or-ride packages at participating ski areas throughout the state, January 4 through 10. Check skivermont.com in December for the details. Here’s a snapshot of the best lift ticket deals currently offered at Vermont’s downhill ski resorts:
ASCUTNEY MOUNTAIN RESORT
How does a Super Saver Card grab you? In exchange for parting with $199 you get five adult ticket vouchers to use during the season, except, of course, during holiday weeks. Better yet are the buy-one-get-one-free Two for Tuesdays promotion and the VT/NH Resident $29 Sunday afternoon ticket.
Similar to Ascutney’s card scheme, again for $199, you receive five adult ticket vouchers under The Great Skier and Rider Bailout program. Or, if you’re craving an early-season deal, there’s the $14 Happy Holiday Lift Ticket, available December 15-19.
At the self-proclaimed Sun Mountain, you can purchase the $69 Sun Mountain Card and use it to get $10 off your own lift ticket, any day during the season. On Tuesdays (a perennial favorite deal day) $44 buys a lift ticket with a waitress-served lunch. February 5 is a $15 Mom’s Day Off day, with ticket proceeds donated to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Fridays are Family Fridays-each adult purchasing a $39 ticket can buy up to three junior tickets for $12 each.
Sunday afternoon tickets are a bargain here at $18 for everyone. Vermont, and Coos and Grafton County, NH, residents can purchase tickets for $41 (non-holiday), Sunday through Friday.
COCHRAN’S SKI AREA
For under $30, adults can ride the lifts for the day.
Unique to Jay is the Vermont and Clinton County, NY, resident ticket rate of $47, any day of the season. For everyone else, the way to go is to purchase the $25 Passport Card. Show it at the ticket booth and get your ticket for $49. Added perk: with every fifth ticket purchased, the next one is on the house. The card is also good for ten percent discounts around the resort.
Get the $26 Killington Express Card and save at least $10 off every ticket you purchase for yourself. The nice thing about the card is it’s linked to a credit card to allow direct lift access, thus avoiding ticket booth delays. Vermont Resident Days will be back, but hadn’t been announced by press time.
MAD RIVER GLEN
Guess what this place calls their card… Yup, a Mad Card. $129 up front buys three transferable ticket vouchers. If that doesn’t float your boards, consider the $3.50 ticket on January 30’s Roll Back the Clock Day, or a $17 Saint Patrick’s Day special. Free skiing for all kids is even better on Town Meeting Day.
Sunday afternoon tickets are a good value here at $25 a pop, or there’s the $39 Magic Card, which enables you to purchase weekend tickets for $10 off, or Friday tickets for $25. Keep in mind that this season, Magic’s normal operating schedule will be Friday through Monday and holiday weeks.
MIDDLEBURY COLLEGE SNOW BOWL
No cards here, just overall great old-fashioned value. Tickets are only $30 midweek, $44 weekends, and since the cafeteria is geared towards college students, prices are actually reasonable.
The best way to ticket savings here is with the $79 FANfare Card, good for 50 percent midweek discounts and 25 percent off on the weekends.
OKEMO MOUNTAIN RESORT
A new twist here this year is that all VT/NH Resident $39 Wednesday and $35 Sunday Morning tickets must be purchased 48 hours in advance, online. The first discount day for everyone is the December 6 Food Drive Day-bring three nonperishable food items in order to purchase a $30 ticket. On April 1, Food Drive Day repeats, but lift tickets are only $10. Okemo will be coming up with online deals as the season evolves, so check their website before visiting.
SMUGGLER’S NOTCH RESORT
Overall, it’s better to purchase lift tickets offsite at Vermont Shaws grocery stores and sports shops listed on the resort’s website for $50 each. Other than that, there’s a $15 discount deal on Business Mondays, for those who drop a business card off at the ticket window. Most Fridays are Vermont Days-half price on tickets, lessons, and rentals for residents. Non-holiday Thursdays means $29 tickets for bona fide college students.
STOWE MOUNTAIN RESORT
If you don’t have a season pass, the best deal you’ll get here is with their $75 Stowe Points Card, which lets you buy $59 lift tickets and offers discounts at the resort’s summer attractions. If you accumulate 450 points through purchases at the resort, they’ll reward you with a lift ticket or a round of golf (with cart).
You can’t go wrong with Stratton’s $69 X2 Card. You’ll immediately receive a complimentary lift ticket and the ability to purchase midweek tickets for $30 off and on the weekends for $20 off the rack rate. A new promotion here is the Family Sunday 4-Pack: $99 buys lift tickets for two parents and two kids with free apres ski pizza in Grizzly’s bar.
Their card is entitled the SugarDirect Card: $99 buys one ticket up front and then 25 percent off midweek tickets and 20 percent off on the weekends. Spring for 10 tickets and the eleventh is on the house.
Tuesdays are two lift tickets for the price of one, with other discount days to be announced.