How to Use Hotel Points for Ski Trips in the Western United States

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Ski and snowboard trips make for great family vacations, but lodging costs can be tremendous during the peak season. Thankfully, this is when hotel loyalty points are the most valuable. I love using my points for ski trips, and have written a few posts about my experiences, but now that ski season is again quickly approaching I am updating a post originally written by Jason Steele (featured in this Little C’s Traveling Friends post), to share some of his experience using points to book convenient ski lodging in the Western US.  I have updated all the points prices from when the piece originally ran last year, so hopefully it can get you ready for ski season 2014- 2015!  Since he is a Colorado local, he was able to add in a few extra tips as well!

I looked for properties affiliated with the major hotel chains that are at or very near the major western ski resorts, and here is what I found:

  • Most of the ski areas with lodging that are part of a major hotel program are in Colorado and Utah, and to a lesser extent, Lake Tahoe (on the California-Nevada border). Despite some great skiing in Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and New Mexico, the major hotel chains have little or no presence close to the ski areas in those states.
  • Starwood appears to have the best points for ski trips. Those visiting Vail, Snowmass, and Beaver Creek can redeem points for accommodations at the lifts for as little as 12,000 – 16,000 point a night, and even less when you factor in the fifth night free offer. Most other properties are 30,000 points a night and up.
  • Hyatt offers some great deals, especially for families. If you can find availability at one of the Hyatt Residence clubs, that could be a steal.  Otherwise, Hyatt Escala Lodge is a solid value on points and Park Hyatt Beaver Creek has an exceptional location.
Kitchen in two-bedroom suite at Westin Riverfront

Kitchen in two-bedroom suite at Westin Riverfront

Tips for skiing Colorado

As Denver local, allow me to offer a few pieces of advice based on my experience:

  • Avoid driving from Denver to the mountains on I-70 Saturday and Sunday mornings or to Denver from the mountains on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. These are the peak travel times for locals and tourists alike, and traffic can easily double or triple the time of the two hour trip from Summit County to the airport. Take it from me, it is extremely frustrating to be stuck in mountain traffic for several hours.  Also be aware that snow and weather can make this drive much slower, so plan accordingly.
  • Eagle-Vail (EGE) is a great airport to fly into for trips to Vail and Beaver Creek, and to a lesser extent, Copper. For the other areas in Summit County, Breckenridge, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin, and Loveland, the Eagle-Vail airport’s short distance advantage over Denver is largely outweighed by the greater chance of weather delays. For those going to Aspen-Snowmass, but are unable to get a reasonably priced flight into the Aspen airport, flying into Eagle-Vail will save at least two hours of driving. Delta, American, United, and Air Canada all offer winter service to Eagle-Vail.  Airline miles can be very useful when prices to these smaller airports are high.

Keystone 2013 2

  • Never, ever pay full window price for a lift ticket any more than you would pay the sticker price for a new car. You can find discounts at the supermarket, coupons in the Entertainment book, and purchase season and day passes at sporting goods stores in Denver in September and October. If you will be passing through Denver in the next two months, be sure to visit an REI, Sports Authority, or Colorado Ski and Golf store to buy some tickets at less than half price. You also find tickets for sale on Denver Craigslist as well.
  • Save money by driving to some of the lesser known ski areas that don’t have extensive accommodations. They have even formed their own ‘alliance’ called Colorado Gems, and they sell a discount card for $20. Personally, I am big fan of Loveland and Arapahoe Basin as they offer great skiing, are near Denver, and sell 4-packs of tickets in the fall (in Denver) for about $30 a ticket.
  • Consider purchasing a 4-Pak to Loveland Ski Area now for only $129. This is a local favorite with great conditions and free parking, but no hotels at the base. These tickets are only on sale until late November, but are frequently sold on Craigslist during the ski season. Expect to pay much more during the season. Not only is Southwest my favorite airline for family travel, they are great for ski travel as well. They have a huge hub in Denver and offer two free checked bags which is great for ski gear. Also, consider them for ski trips to Salt Lake, Albuquerque, and Reno/Lake Tahoe as well.
  • Be aware that rental car agencies at the Denver airport are notorious for their up-sell techniques. Expect to hear stern warnings about how the car you reserved can’t possibly drive up a mountain or in snow and how you really need to pay an extra fee to upgrade to a larger vehicle. This is nonsense and you can expect to hear it right after they ask you if you are visiting the mountains. All cars built in the last few years have traction control and anti-lock brakes, and any car sold in the United States can drive up I-70 (I frequently see manufactures testing new models there). I’ve driven to the mountains countless times: Unless you have a vehicle four wheel drive, which is expensive and isn’t usually necessary, the type of car you rent will not matter much. Besides, after declining the paid upgrade, you will probably be given a larger car anyways at no additional cost.
Little C learning to ski in Colorado

Little C learning to ski at 3 years old

The major hotel chains with properties at ski areas:

IHG Rewards

Colorado

Holiday Inn Summit County-Frisco – 25,000 points. Located just off the highway, this hotel is a 10-20 minute drive from Summit County ski areas. One king or two double beds.

Holiday Inn Vail. – 35,000 points. I have stayed at this property, which is across I-70 from Vail Village, and offers a free shuttle to the ski area. One king or two queens.

Lake Tahoe

Holiday Inn Express South Lake Tahoe – 30,000 points.  Located a quarter mile away from Heavenly Ski Resort in South Lake Tahoe.  They offer rooms with one king, two doubles, or two queen size beds.

Utah

Holiday Inn Express & Suites Park City –  20,000 points. Located within 10 miles of the three major ski areas in Park City, this hotel’s standard room has a king bed and a sofabed.

Earn IHG points in a hurry with the IHG MasterCard.

 

Hilton

Colorado

Valdoro Mountain Lodge by Hilton Grand Vacations Suites – “Distinctive Rewards” Category, points worth about .25 cents each. This property at the Peak 9 base offers bedroom studios and suites with kitchens. Unfortunately, the points required depends directly on the cash price, with each point being worth little more than a quarter of a cent.

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Breckenridge – Category 8, varied from 64,120 – 70,000 points during ski season. Across the street from Peak 9 at Breckenridge ski area in Summit County Colorado, the standard room has one king bed and a sofabed.

Hampton Inn & Suites Steamboat Springs Category 5, 40,000 points during ski season. This property is only a mile from the ski area and offers standard rooms with one king or two queens. Some even have fireplaces!

Utah

Sunrise Lodge, a Hilton Grand Vacations Club “Distinctive Rewards” Category, points worth about .25 cents each. This property is in the village of the Canyons resort in Park City and features studios and suites.

Waldorf Astoria Park City – Category 9, 80,000 points during ski season. At the base of Park City, the property offers rooms with king beds and a sofabed.

Hampton Inn & Suites Park City – Category 5 , 40,000 points during ski season. This property is just off of I-80 in Park City, and is just a short drive to Park City, Deer Valley, and The Canyons. Standard rooms include a king bed or two queens.

Wyoming

Homewood Suites by Hilton Jackson – Category 8, 40,000 points during ski season. This property is in the center of the town of Jackson, which is not far from the Jackson Hole ski area. The standard room is a two room suite great for families with its king bed, sofabed, fridge, and microwave.

Hampton Inn Jackson Hole – Category 7, 30,000 – 60,000 points (but was currently showing just 30k during ski season!). Between the town of Jackson and the airport, this hotel offers rooms with one king or two queen beds.

Earn award Hilton nights or points: in a hurry with the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card or Hilton HHonors Surpass Card from American Express.

 

Hyatt

Colorado

Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and Spa – Category 7, 30,000 points. This hotel is fresh off a renovation and is located right at the base of Beaver Creek and about 100 yards from ski school. Standard rooms have a king bed or two doubles.

Lake Tahoe

Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa and Casino – Category 5, 20,000 points. This hotel is located at Incline Village in North Lake Tahoe. This is near the smaller Diamond Peak ski area, but still within a day trip of Heavenly Valley.  Standard rooms have a king bed or two queens.

Utah

Hyatt Place Salt Lake City/Cottonwood – Category 2, 8,000 points. While a search of the entire Salt Lake City area is beyond the scope of this article, this little gem caught my eye. Located at the base of both the Little and Big Cottonwood Canyons, skiers can reach Snowbird, Alta, Brighton, and Solitude in just a few minutes, all while staying within 20 highway miles of Salt Lake City International Airport. Standard rooms include a king and sofa, or two queen beds. Just 12,000 points are enough for a one bedroom suite with a kitchen.

Hyatt Escala Lodge at Park City – Category 4, 15,000 points.  This is a ski-in/out mountain resort located within the mountainside village of the Canyons Resort.  I think it is one of the very best points values for a ski property.

Hyatt Residence Clubs

These properties are outside the regular point categories, but still offer amazing deals. Unlike regular hotels, there is limited availability of award bookings. The prices are: studio: 12,000, one bedroom: 15,000, two bedroom: 23,000, and three bedroom: 30,000.  The limited availability will mean that some properties are pretty much never available on points during ski season (like Residences at Park Hyatt Beaver Creek) while others will have some availability, but it can be quite scarce.  Calling Hyatt Gold Passport is the only way to check for availability on points at these properties.

Colorado

Hyatt Grand Aspen – A Hyatt Residence Club

Hyatt Mountain Lodge – A Hyatt Residence in Aspen

Hyatt Main Street Station – A Hyatt Residence Club Avon/Beaver Creek

The Residences at Park Hyatt Beaver Creek

Nevada

Hyatt High Sierra Lodge at Incline Village (Lake Tahoe)

Earn award Hyatt nights or points that can be transferred 1:1 to Hyatt with the Hyatt Visa Signature , Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, or  Ink Plus® Business Card
Marriott

Colorado

Vail Marriott Mountain Resort – Category 9, 45,000 points. Located in Vail Village and offers one king or double beds as a standard room, with larger rooms having a king and a sofabed.

The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch –Tier 5, 70,000 points. This hotel is at a prime location at Beaver Creek and offers a choice of one king or two double beds.

Marriott’s Mountain Valley Lodge at Breckenridge – Category 8, 40,000 points. Located at the base of the ski area, the rooms feature a king or queen bed and a sofabed.

Fairfield Inn & Suites Steamboat Springs – Category 5, 25,000 points. This hotel is in the town, a few miles from the ski area. It offers rooms with one king or two queen size beds.

Lake Tahoe

Grand Residences by Marriott, Lake Tahoe – Category 8, 40,000 points.  One and two bedroom properties at the base of the Heavenly Valley gondola, just a block from the casinos across the Nevada state line.

Marriott’s Timber Lodge – Category 8, 40,000 points.  Also at the gondola base, these rooms feature a king bed and a sofabed.

Ritz Carlton Lake Tahoe –  Tier 4, 60,000 points.  The hotel has a mid-mountain location and offers ski-in / ski-out access to Northstar.  Standard rooms have one King or two Queens.

Earn Marriott points and a Category 1-4 cert in a hurry with the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card

 

Starwood

Colorado resort properties:

Sheraton Mountain Vista Villas, Avon / Vail Valley – Category 5, 12,000 – 16,000 points. Located in Vail Village, at the base of Vail mountain, this property has rooms starting at 12,000 points a night. For that rate, you get a one bedroom villa, kitchenette, and a separate living room with sofa bed. This is one of the best value for couples and families at a Starwood property in Colorado.

The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa at Beaver Creek Mountain – Category 5, 12,000 – 16,000 points. This property is actually in the town of Avon, about a mile from the base lodge. Nevertheless, there is a gondola to get you to the mountain, though not the part with ski school. The standard traditional room has two queen beds.

Westin Riverfront Mountain VillasCategory 5, 12,000 – 16,000 points.  These villas belong to the ‘time share’ portion of the property and as a result have a small dining table, kitchen, and washer/dryer.  They are adjacent to the Resort and in my view not at all worth the higher category distinction over the resort.

The Westin Snowmass Resort – Category 5, 12,000 – 16,000 points.  This property is at the base of Snowmass ski area, which is near the town of Aspen. This property is the best SPG property in the Aspen area if you have young kids.  The standard room has two queen beds.

Wildwood Snowmass – Category 4, 10,000 points. This property is also at the base of Snowmass, near Aspen. The standard room has two double beds and rollaways are available.

The St. Regis Aspen Resort Category 7, 30,000 -35,000 points– Also at the base of Aspen mountain, with rooms starting at 30,000 points a night. I have stayed at this resort and was very impressed, but if you aren’t going to ski on Aspen Mountain then another SPG property may be a better value. The standard rooms have two double beds.

St. Regis Residence Club, Aspen – Category 7, 30,000 -35,000 points. This property is at the base of Aspen mountain and as a residence club, has limited participation in the SPG program. Therefore, free nights must be booked by phone and availability during the peak season is not guaranteed. The standard rooms have two bedrooms.

Sheraton Steamboat Resort Villas – Category 7, 30,000 -35,000 points. Located at the base of Steamboat ski resort. The standard room has two queen beds.

Sheraton Steamboat Resort – Category 5, 12,000 – 16,000 points.  Located at the base of Mount Werner and the Steamboat Ski Area.  The standard room has one king or two queen beds.

Westin Monache Resort, Mammoth – Category 5, 12,000 – 16,000 points. Located in the resort village at Mammoth Mountain and steps from the Village Gondola.

Utah

The St. Regis Deer Valley – Category 7 , 30,000 -35,000 points. This hotel is at the Deer Valley ski area in the town of Park City and its standard rooms have two queen beds.

Earn SPG points with the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

 

Wyndham

Colorado

Super 8 Dillon/Breckenridge Area – 15,000 points-  This hotel is right off of I-70, but guests will have to drive 10-20 minutes to resorts like Breckenridge, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin, and Loveland.

Days Inn Silverthorne – 15,000 points. This hotel is also just off of I-70,  so guests will have to drive 10-20 minutes to the nearest ski areas.

Ramada Limited Frisco – 15,000 points. Frisco is another town off of I-70, so you will have to drive 10-20 minutes to resorts like Breckenridge, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin, and Loveland.

Lake Tahoe

Howard Johnson Express Inn South Lake Tahoe – 14,000 points. This property and the ones below are in the city of South Lake Tahoe, very close to Heavenly Valley Ski Area.

Days Inn South Lake Tahoe – 14,000 points

Super 8 Lake Tahoe South – 10,000 points

You can earn Wyndham Reward points quickly with the Wyndham Rewards Visa, but be sure you have a near-term redemption strategy before applying as their award chart has changed in the past without notice. 

 

Club Carlson

I was unable to locate any Club Carlson properties close to major western ski resorts.

Snowboarding Beaver Creek

Snowboarding Beaver Creek

Another thing to consider in order to save money on lift tickets if you will be visiting multiple mountains this ski season is the Mountain Collective pass for $389.  It gives you 18 days at participating mountains for that price (two at each mountain) and then 50% off additional days.  Participating mountains include:

  • 2 days at AltaSnowbird
  • 2 days at Aspen Snowmass
  • 2 days at Jackson Hole
  • 2 days at Mammoth
  • 2 days at Ski Banff-Lake Louise-Sunshine
  • 2 days at Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows
  • 2 days at Sun Valley
  • 2 days at Thredbo
  • 2 days at Whistler Blackcomb
  • 2 days at both Valle Nevado in Chile and Hakuba Valley in Japan*

What are your favorite properties for redeeming hotel points during ski season?

Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.

Disclaimer: The comments below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Pingbacks

  1. […] Holiday Inn Vail – 2111 North Frontage Rd. Vail –  This hotel is 1.5 miles from the ski resort, just across the highway from Vail Village. Free parking and a complimentary shuttle that runs every 30 mins to the ski resort, as well as an outdoor heated pool, indoor jacuzzi and  a steam room make this a good choice.  This hotel is only 10 minutes from Beaver Creek. […]

  2. […] We knew we wanted to take the kids on a ski trip out west, but of course I didn’t want to spend much money. Obviously those are somewhat contradictory! I set out to identify resorts with hotels you can redeem points for. If you ski, there’s a great match up for hotels with points programs near major western ski resorts (and also highlights family friendly places) at Mommy Points: How to Use Hotel Points for Ski Trips in the Western United States. […]

  3. […] We knew we wanted to take the kids on a ski trip out west, but of course I didn’t want to spend much money. Obviously those are somewhat contradictory! I set out to identify resorts with hotels you can redeem points for. If you ski, there’s a great match up for hotels with points programs near major western ski resorts (and also highlights family friendly places) at Mommy Points: How to Use Hotel Points for Ski Trips in the Western United States. […]

Comments

  1. We are planning to go to Whistler in a couple years (hopefully my son will be good enough to at least ski greens by then!) and I plan to stay at the Westin. I just applied for the SPG card 30,000 points offer. By the time we go, we should have enough for at least 5 nights (with the 5th night free deal)

  2. On the California side of the Sierra mountain, Hyatt also has a beautiful ski-in-ski-out residence club Northstar Lodge located in the very popular Northstar Village, which my kids love more than Heavenly or Incline Village.

  3. I am booked into the Hyatt Escala Lodge at Park City for spring break this year. It looks pretty stunning. 23k/nt. got us a 1BR suite with full kitchen much like the vacation club resorts. This room goes for ~$700/nt during the ski season so it’s a great use of points. It’s at the base of the Canyons ski resort.

  4. Don’t forget Mt.Hood near Portland, Oregon and world famous Windells Camp – the funnest place on earth – and where easily the best skiers/boarders in the world are bred every season year-round!
    Many airlines serve Portland and from there it’s only a quick drive up to Timberline Lodge on Mt.Hood where you can play in the snow year-round – the only place in the USA.

  5. If you stay in Summit County (Frisco, Dillon) the Summit bus is free and goes to Breck, Keystone, Copper, and Abasin. So if you don’t want to drive to the resort from your hotel it’s an option.

    I think it should be mentioned that if you’ve never driven in snow getting to the ski resorts can be a challenge. Almost every weekend we’ve seen cars off the road with out of state plates or in rentals. There are plenty of companies that do shuttles from the Denver airport to the ski resorts. Colorado Mountain Express is pretty popular, but there are others as well.

  6. Thanks for the post – this is a great summary and something I’ve had to research myself quite a bit in the past. We have redemptions booked at Hilton Whistler, Westin Whistler, and Westin Beaver Creek over the next year.

    One clarification to note – the Sheraton Mountain Vista Villas Avon / Vail Valley is not located in Vail Village. It is in Avon, just a couple blocks from the Westin Riverfront Beaver Creek (just across the train tracks). Vail Valley not to be confused with Vail Village.

  7. He isn’t kidding about the car rental companies upsell techniques. An Avis rep there told me that I really needed the “V6 traction” of the larger car in the snow. Its a pretty special engine if it can improve tire traction. I chalked it up to her ignorance about cars. I guess she was trying to play on any ignorance I might’ve had.

  8. Hi, I also visited Westin Monache at Mammoth, and it was a VERY good stay. For those that live in LA, this maybe a good option, to drive up for 5 hours or to use BA avios of 9000 miles RT via Alaska Airlines from LAX to Mammoth.

  9. This post is awesome! Would love to see one featuring East Coast locations. I’m not aware of ANY other than Mt. Tremblant in Canada. Does anyone know of any U.S. East Coast locations where you can use points to ski?

  10. GREAT post… I wish there was a calendar view to see Hyatt award availability. I’ve searched several times for the Hyatt Residences at Beaver Creek, but it’s too frustrating to go day by day.

  11. The car rental “upsells” are what you get in Hawaii too. “You’ll need a 4 wheel drive for the Mauna Kea drive or the Green Sand beach trip.” Disgusting tactics.

  12. Incredible summary. Many people love to ski in either Jackson Hole or Grand Targhee. If you’re willing to wake up early enough to add a 2 hour drive you can stay in Idaho Falls. It is my hometown and tons of people make the trip to the ski hills daily. In Idaho Falls we have all kinds of Hilton and IHG properties, but unfortunately we don’t have any SPG, or CC.

    Idaho Falls is a great destination to make this trip happen if you live in Vegas, Phoenix, or LA because you can catch the very affordable Allegiant Airlines flights. Use your Barclaycard points to redeem on those flights!

  13. SPG also has a property (Westin Monache Resort) at Mammoth in California (Tahoe) – a little off the beaten path but worth mentioning. Category 5 with decent availability and frequent promos.

  14. A little late to the party on this one – I’m surprised to see the review of the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek, US News and Trip Advisor both have this ranked very highly in their list of Vail hotels.

    • MLH, the location is tremendous for that property, as is the service. However, the physical rooms are a little bit in need or a renovation, and based on a quick look of their site this week it seems the property might be closed right now for renovations…which I bet would do the trick!

  15. We are going to Breckenridge over Thanksgiving break this year. Does anyone know where I can get discount lift tickets? Thanks.

  16. Thanks for your post on this! Great help for us. If we are beginners and need ski school (2 adults and 3 kids), do you recommend Loveland? We tried Taos, NM before and love it. Would like to try some new place this Xmas but Beaver Creek and Vails are kinda too expensive comparing to Taos. So I’m thinking of Loveland now after reading this post.

  17. i am so excited to have 2 trips booked on points to stay at BC Park Hyatt this year! I saved $6000 during spring break alone!!!! When one of our kids booked a school trip I was excited that the rest of us could stay in one room. A little worried about the eating out expense since I’m used to cooking in a condo. This post is a great one to archive for next year in case we luck out again! Now if I can on figure out how to get more SPG points! Thanks for a great post!

  18. If I stay at Hyatt Beaver Creek with the family which includes 5 and 10 year olds, where do you recommend we get ski lessons if we want to save money? Thanks

    • Maury, my ACL injury says that skimping on lessons is a bad idea (it came from my one day of DIY-ing lessons for my four year old). If you are staying at PH Beaver Creek, personally I would just suck it up and buy lessons there. Other mountains might be a bit cheaper, but then you are burning the convenience you paid your points to get. Group lessons are obviously cheaper than private or semi-private, but I would just look at what the mountain offers and whip out a rewards earning card to earn points on it. Wish I had a better answer!

  19. Great post. I have stayed at the Westin in Avon Colorado (Beaver Creek), Whistler, and Mammoth, all on points! All were amazing. We have the Hyatt in Park city booked for this winter. Hey Mommy Points, if you have any extra time, perhaps you can do a similar post on hotels in Canada and Europe. I would love to know whether Club Carlson has more hotels at ski resorts, like the one you went to in Norway. Thanks for the post

    • ToddC, they absolutely do have more than just Norway. I like that idea and there are a few others in Europe I have my eye on, too!

  20. FYI, there’s a Country Inn and Suites in SLC. Takes 30 min to get to Canyons Resort from there. Wife and I made a weekend of it last season.

    And now you’re a colorado local? 😉

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