How to Save Money Skiing at Whistler Blackcomb

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Skiing is a very expensive hobby, especially if you have to travel in order to get on a mountain. It wasn’t this expensive when I was a kid and my parents would drive us through the night from Texas to New Mexico or Colorado, but in the ensuing decades, it has become a very expensive hobby and trip. So expensive in fact that the average Colorado ski vacation for two adults that includes three days on the mountain is reportedly $3,466 at Vail (where we are going next month) ringing in at $4,572 and Aspen (where we are going next year) ringing in at $4,226. Remember that’s just three days on the mountain for two adults and doesn’t factor in children’s airfare, ski school, lift tickets, rentals, etc.

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Those numbers are just way out of range for most of us, but thankfully ski vacations can be had for much, much less by leaning on miles, points, deals, and strategy. We recently enjoyed a fantastic week in Seattle and Whistler with three days on the mountain and we spent way less than those numbers for all four of us.

To help you figure out how to do the same, we put together a three-minute video on How to Save Money Skiing at Whistler that includes five tips that could save you thousands of dollars. While the tips do have a Whistler specific flair, most of them can be easily adapted to save you money on a ski trip almost anywhere.

I hope you will watch the video, but for those who prefer written posts, here are some ways to save money on a Whistler ski trip.

Consider flying into Seattle instead of Vancouver

The last time we went to Whistler we flew into Vancouver, but this time around we realized we would save money and miles by flying into Seattle. Taxes alone for the flights home would ring in at about $200 for our family of four and award availability was just much better to Seattle. If you are paying for your flights with cash instead of airline miles, you will likely find more deals to Seattle than Vancouver, so do the math and see if Seattle can save your family some money.

Have fun in Seattle on the way to Whistler

You will have to make the longer drive from Seattle (or take the train), but the few hours didn’t bother us as it really was a pleasant drive as long as you avoid peak Seattle traffic times. I also highly recommend checking the border crossing wait times if you don’t have NEXUS as one crossing on our trip was almost three hours while others were under an hour. Keep in mind that those were wait times during the busy holiday week between Christmas and New Year’s, so waits on a normal day are likely much shorter.

The drive to Whistler is a true delight

Use points to stay on the mountain at the Westin Whistler

One of the best deals in the miles and points world is using your points to stay on or near a ski mountain during a peak ski time. In looking at the rates for the week between Christmas and New Year’s at Whistler next year, the cheapest rate for a standard room at Westin Whistler is about $1,000 per night, which is the same as it was this year. However, you can instead spend as few as 9,600 SPG points per night if you stay five nights, which is an outstanding deal.

Westin Whistler

Spending 48,000 SPG points instead of about $5,000 for a five-night stay already makes this trip much more realistic for most families. Not only is that a great deal, but the Westin Whistler is just steps from ski school and the Whistler gondola. To earn SPG points that you can use to stay at the Westin Whistler, check out the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card and Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card.

Westin Whistler is the building in the middle of the photo

In addition, inside the hotel is the Whistler Kids daycare program and a rental shop that will store your skis for you at the end of the day.

Save hundreds by groceries and make your own lunches

At Whistler, like at most ski resorts, food can be pricey. We had free breakfast with Platinum status at the Westin Whistler, but lunches on the mountain or in the hotel could easily be $50 for a family of four, or more if you aren’t careful. Breakfast could easily cost that same amount if you were buying it in restaurants.

Free Platinum breakfast at the Westin Whistler

However, in the walkable Whistler Village, there is a grocery store where you can load up on bananas, cereals, sandwich materials, chips, drinks, and more to knock out some easy breakfasts and lunches so you aren’t spending hundreds of dollars per day just to fill your family’s bellies.

We prefer to keep costs low for breakfast and lunch and then enjoy a dinner out at one of Whistler’s many great restaurants, but you could choose to make all three meals and save even more. The rooms at the Westin Whistler all have at least a small studio kitchen with suites having even larger cooking and eating areas.

Lunch on the mountain is easily $20 per person

Buy an Epic Pass

A one-day walk-up adult lift ticket at Whistler costs as much as about $156 CAD, but you can knock that amount down to about $133 CAD by buying at least 7 days in advance, or potentially even lower if you go at really off-peak times. Another alternative is to purchase an Epic Pass which is available in either an unlimited version or with a set number of loaded days that you can use at any of the Epic Mountains that include popular resorts such as Whistler Blackcomb, Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone, Breckenridge, Stowe, Park City, and more.

Your per day lift ticket rate can be kept under $100 per day with an Epic Pass. This is an especially good deal if you are going to visit at least two different Epic Mountains. This year, we plan to visit at least Whistler and Vail so I got an Epic seven day pass that I paid about $659 for, meaning that each of my ski days is about $94 which isn’t bad, considering the peak season daily ski rates. Having that pass also meant that I can purchase a set number of discounted walk-up lift tickets for my family members or friends. 

Share Epic discounts with friends and family

Kids ski for less

Kids ski free at Whistler until they are seven years old, which is a much longer time period than at the major Colorado resorts. At Vail and Breckenridge, kids need a lift ticket starting at age 5 and that ticket will cost more than $100 per day. However, at Whistler, you don’t pay until the kids are seven years old and then the tickets start at just $67 CAD, which is just over $50 USD.

A bonus tip that is not on the video, but that is fun and can save you money is to go to the hardware store in the Whistler Village and buy your own sled that you use all week rather than buy tickets to the snow tubing park. A sled can be had for under $30 CAD and a ticket for just one person for one hour on the tubing park is $22 CAD. Not only is it fun to have your own sled, but it is also an insanely practical way to move your toddler around the village!

Who needs a stroller when you can just use a sled. #toddlertraveler #familytravel #whistler #whistlerblackcomb #travelingtot

For more information on skiing at Whistler for less, here are details on how we planned our most recent trip to this snowy paradise. How does your family save money while skiing at Whistler and other mountains?

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Comments

  1. I will add that the high airport taxes are only outbound from YVR to the US, not the other way. You could fly into YVR and only pay $5.60 and fly out if either sea-tac or Bellingham (serviced by allegiant, and Alaska)

  2. I used several of these tips on previous Whistler ski trips. I love the Westin when I stayed there last year. I return to Whistler in late February.

    • We were there over Xmas and did 2 one-way rentals from YVR-Whistler. That cost the same as having the car for 7 days, but we didn’t have to pay CAD40/nt to leave our car parked at the hotel for a week. They have a Westin Shuttle too so that was handy for a few dinners we had over in Upper Village.

    • It was like $34 CAD per day and yes sadly the car just sits. There is no resort fee, but the parking makes up for that savings.

  3. Great tips. I am glad that you enjoyed my weekend home town!!

    I would add (and I don’t know if you discovered it), that the Mongolie Grill in Whistler above the movie theatres charges by weight. This is perfect if you have kids that aren’t interested in a full meal as they can pick their entrees and pay less than $10 for dinner!!

    The only chain hotels left in Whistler that are easily available on points are the Westin, The Delta by Marriott (a long 10 minute walk- not fun in ski boots) and the Hilton which is right next door to the Westin slope side.

    • You have a great hometown! I haven’t been to the by the pound grill, but will add that to the to-do list for next time!

  4. Some good stuff there, and great to know that there’s a grocery store in Whistler Village (my wife and I will be heading out there in 3 weeks). However, we’ll be maximizing it even FURTHER…here’s a great tip for those who want to REALLY save. Since I normally put on 30+ days on the mountain any given year, it’s become imperative to learn how to save $$ while at the resorts. Thus, by bringing my own dehydrated meals (Mountain House are the best, IMO) and a 2-cup nalgene bottle, you can have your own hot meal WAY cheaper. The nice part is that pretty much any ski area has hot water available, and for free at any food location. So, you can eat on top of the mountain with a hot meal for a fraction of the cost!

    • Well done! I’m not quite that hardcore, but imagine if I had 30 days on the mountains each year I would need some more tricks!

  5. Also…this is something I don’t understand…why did you buy an EPIC 7 day pass instead of just buying an EPIC Local pass? Same price, only you would have had unlimited skiing all season long, provided you bought it before October. 10 days between Vail/BC/Whistler is still more than 7. All you’d have to do is not visit those 3 between christmas and new years (you could have still done Breck/Keystone/Tahoe Resorts).

      • Indeed. We were going at peak season (school schedule) so we had a pass with no date restrictions and I sadly won’t be skiing more than 7 days…it’ll actually be a stretch to use all 7.

      • Conversely…I don’t understand why anybody wants to be at a resort between christmas and new years. Most great terrain still not open yet and it’s CROWDED AS F&@#*$!!!! Then again…this is the 30+ days boarder in me. I want to be able to hit up all the great terrain with as little crowds as feasibly possible.

        • Just caught the school schedule…but surely school didn’t start up again on Jan 2. I, personally, would have pushed back a week. The only time I hit up the resorts when there’s holiday crowds are when it’s 12″+ on the snow report (then you gotta grab first chair and ride it hard until everyone else wakes up, then bail the hell outta there)

          • Historically they do go back the 2nd or 3rd, so I booked the trip with that schedule in mind. However, they did throw a curveball this year and started today actually. Had I known that when I booked the trip we may have gone right after New Year’s. On the flip side, Josh also has days off more between Christmas and NY than after NY, so it’s a hard call. There was a bluebird powder day while we were there and it was EPIC!

  6. I’m curious why you didn’t think a 5 hour drive was a big deal but last summer you were barely willing to drive to the Hyatt in San Antonio? Especially with a 3 hour border wait? Not being snarky, just doesn’t make sense?

    • Good question. We thankfully didn’t wait three hours. We waited just under an hour each way. Three would have been terrible. Thankfully, we checked waits and went to a different crossing when the first had that crazy long wait. The main reasons though were the last six months have really helped the youngest do better in the car, the scenery was great, we were going to be put 5 nights instead of a weekend, and josh was with us making it a little easier. Also just luck that my youngest didn’t get car sick on this trip but did over the summer. The payoff was also magical whistler which to me is just worth the trip. Hope that helps explain a little!

  7. If you park under the Whistler Conference Center, it’s $10cdn per 24 hours up to 7 days. No in and out, but if you know you’re not going to use the car it’s the best deal. The trick is finding an open space; it’s not a secret.

  8. Rent a week at a timeshare in Whistler. Way cheaper than a hotel, and way more space for a family to spread out, since it’s usually 1-bedroom or 2-bedroom unit. Look at redweek, tugbbs, eBay, myresortnetwork, etc.

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