Sunday, February 28, 2016

Tent Camping at Ski Vacations

Ordinary ski vacations allow travelers to rent good mountain cabins. While some prefer economical cottages, there are others who can afford luxurious chalets. But for a more adventurous type of ski enthusiasts, dwelling in temporary rental homes is a bit of a drag. As far as they are concerned, there is much more fun to be experienced in pitching up tents in alpine camp grounds. Here are some of the probable reasons they will use as a valid argument:

Intimacy with Nature
One of the best things about tent camping is that it allows outdoor vacationers to fully immerse themselves with the natural environment and experience serenity. It comes with its own set of minor discomforts, particularly the unpredictable winter weather. Tent camping is also a good chance to broaden one's reflection since nature provides a quieter solace for the wandering thoughts and imagination. Who knows, you might be able to write a book on your way home due to that heightened awareness.

Pet Friendly Sites
Another advantage of tent camping is that most campgrounds allow pets. This is highly unlikely with standard ski resort setting since the management is concerned with cleanliness and maintenance. In open mountain campgrounds, animals can wander under the supervision of their owners. This is ideal for some skiers who are inseparable to their beloved pets.

Do it Your Self
Setting up tents is pretty much an independent effort on the part of the visitors. Some skiers consider this a great inconvenience. However, some athletes have a positive outlook about living a Spartan life. Every aspect of hands-on living can be incorporated in their overall training and competitive mind set. Being able to pitch your own tent and organize your stuff maintains a superior level of preparedness.

Open camping sites are usually cheaper than ski resorts. For many practical skiers, that alone serves as the best reason to choose tents over rental cabins. Frugal vacationers even look for better ski vacation packages in highly advertised alpine campsites. Being able to save expenses allows vacationers to spare cash for souvenirs and other cool stuff within the ski town.

Effective Socialization
Outdoor locations are often the best places for a group of people to form stronger bonds. However, one cannot experience the full extent of social interaction while living in temporary rental cabins that have adequate access to technology. The absence of technology in tent campgrounds grants an opportunity for the group to have a more engaging recreational activity (apart from skiing) such as campfire sing-along, storytelling and even snowball slinging competition.

Pitching up tents in freezing high-altitude territory seems to be very rigorous and inconvenient. However, this austere type of outing takes fun to a whole new level. The abundant experiences make ski vacations all the more memorable.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Ski Jumping World Cup 2016

Avid skiers and snowboarders who flocked Innsbruck, Austria, one of the most popular ski vacation destinations across the world, had a fantastic start of the year. Why not, they got to witness topnotch skiers competing in one of the most awaited slope competitions: the Ski Jumping World Cup 2016.

In case you missed the action from that event, take a look at these photos:

Friday, November 06, 2015

To VRBO or to not VRBO... That is the question!!!

First of all, full disclosure. I've used VRBO to book some of my own personal travel. I've used VRBO to find a lake house with killer views in Vermont and a lovely little flat in Highgate (thanks Krista) when visiting the UK, and I had great experiences with both rentals.

However. Yes, here comes the BUT.

As a ski travel advisor, I have heard more than my share of horror stories from guests visiting resorts from California to Maine.  In listening to their stories over the years I have heard three recurring issues over and over.

1) Incomplete or inaccurate check-in instructions: I had a client call me in the middle of the night while he was on a trip out West (that he did not book through me. I chided him about that later). He and his wife had been driving around for over 90 minutes in the small Colorado ski town where they had reserved a small private home through VRBO. I managed to get them back on a main drag and pointed in the right direction, but the point is they were given absolutely horrible directions by the homeowner. I've had other folks tell me about their arrival at a large private home in Utah where not only were there no keys in the lockbox at the property, there was no lockbox. The homeowner had several properties and had send the wrong instructions for the home the guests were staying in. It was the middle of the following day before it got sorted out. Not the best way to start a ski trip.

2) Financial shenanigans: I've heard plenty of tales of phantom cleaning fees that were never disclosed, security deposits not being refunded in a timely manner, and various bills for things like trash removal, firewood, and internet service showing up weeks later.

3) Problems with the home/condo: This is the BIG one. I've heard from people that have shown up to properties that had busted water heaters and water, water everywhere, no heat because the electric bill had not been paid, or completely trashed units that looked like the ski team from Enormous State University had just left ten minutes ago.

The real challenges that you as a vacationer encounter when these type of problems arise (especially #3) is that in most cases you are dealing with an owner that has ONE property and they can sometimes be impossible to reach when you are traveling.

So, you just arrived at your destination and find that the beautiful home you rented is truly beautiful, but there is no heat or hot water. What's your recourse? It's Presidents Week and the owner is not answering the phone. When you finally do reach him/her, they can't arrange to have someone come out until the following day. Then, the following day the HVAC guy that gets dispatched let's you know that it'll a couple days before he can fix it. You only rented the place for 5 nights. Yep, full-on vacation nightmare.

The final takeaway? VRBO can be a useful tool to help you plan travel, but you must, must, pay attention to what you are doing, ask the right questions, and it never hurts to get advise from your friendly ski travel professional. More about that later!

Early winter beauty in Aspen

Aspen Mountain and Snowmass Open Nov. 26
Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk Open Dec. 12

Aspen looking a Christmas card in the early November twilight!

Photo Credit: Jeremy Swanson

You can almost hear the sound of falling snow in this one.

Photo Credit: Jeremy Swanson

One man's opinion, but as a big fan of Jeremy's work, I think he's one of the BEST landscape photographers out there in ski land.

What constitutes MUST have gear for Eastern skiers?

What does every Eastern skier need to have in the car before they back out of the driveway?

Hard to argue with this list! Tip of the helmet to Connor Davis. Spot on sir, spot on!

The List