This is yet another picture-less post from me and once again a very late write-up on a snowboarding trip earlier this year. The story starts off with that I have become somewhat proficient in snowboarding and really enjoyed exploring the various ski resorts, especially after my winter experience in Japan. What better pleasure in life when you can do several of your favourite things at one go? And in my case that is travelling, snowboarding and photography.
Since I also had purchased the Mountain Collective Pass and it includes 2 days at Aspen/Snowmass, Colorado was set to be my next destination. Aspen has become somewhat of a legendary name in skiing, though as I did my research, it was suggested that Snowmass might be the better resort to stay at for snowboarders. It also helps that lodging were slightly more affordable at Snowmass. As a background to readers, Aspen/Snowmass is made up of 4 distinct ski and snowboarding areas, with shuttles running between these 4 locations. They are probably 20 minutes apart from each other with Snowmass being the largest and modern of them all as it is similar to the mega ski resorts that was built over the last decade. Room rates were around $300-350 per night at each of these resorts but because of attaining SPG Platinum, I had the 35% off redemption offer and to make it more worthwhile, I redeemed the offer with 5th night free at the Westin Snowmass. This required just 31,200 Starpoints, and for a stay that could have cost me $1,500 and above with taxes, I thought that was a pretty good deal. The other SPG property in the area is the St Regis Aspen which I was hoping to stay but it was definitely way out of my budget and required much more Starpoints. Maybe next time.
However I also had some Hyatt Gold Passport points and I remembered there was 2 major ski areas in Colorado, with the other one being Vail/Beaver Creek. And what I realized was that Park Hyatt has a resort in Beaver Creek. For those who have read my past reports, they should know I am a big fan of Park Hyatt hotels and resort. I really cannot pass up the opportunity of staying in one since it is so near to where I am heading to. Thus I decided to book 2 nights at the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek which will allow me to compare the different ski resorts of Colorado as well.
Now that I have my lodging settled, I needed to get my transportation booked. I had initially intended to use points for my domestic flights but for some reason, I kept on delaying on booking the flights and this resulted in no availability as it got closer to the day of departure. So I checked for flights flying into Aspen (ASE) and flying out of Eagle County (EGE), which is the airport serving Vail. All I could say was flights are definitely not the cheapest and the open-jaw flights turns out cheaper than returning from Aspen. In the end I was destined to fly on Economy on the following route: YVR-SFO-ASE // EGE-DEN-SEA-YVR and I paid quite a dear price for it too at C$750 per person with taxes.
With the flights out of the way, I needed to find transport options between the Westin Snowmass Aspen and Park Hyatt Beaver Creek. What I discovered was that there was not much in terms of options and whatever there was, it was pricey. Short of some VIP limousine service, my best bet turns out to be the rental car option. I reserved a compact car rental from Avis for around US$160 with taxes and surcharges for dropping off at a different location. This was for a 2-day rental and I think it is a fair price. So all in all ~US$900 for a nice week-long snowboarding vacation which is not that bad I think as a weekend in Whistler is probably gonna set me back US$300 anyway.
And at the end of it, I will try to do a comparison of some of the ski resorts I have been to in the past 2 years. For the moment, do bear with me as I finish up this trip journal!