How Hotel Chain Partners are changing the Ski Hotel Market for Skiers

Travelling to ski often means necessitating the need to book a ski hotel, and due to the seasonality factor, ski hotels are often expensive with rates higher than comparable hotels. When I started skiing, it was when I stayed in Vancouver, which is near Whistler so I could always drive up for the day. Even then I would take advantage of when hotel rates are cheaper in the spring time for an overnight or weekend stay. In the peak season like during Spring Break and Christmas time hotel rooms in the Westin and Hilton at Whistler can be up to C$400-600++ (~$300-440), while in the spring season, it can be as low as C$200-250++ (~$150-185). Thus ski hotels makes very good redemption opportunities, or at the very least to earn points for future stays. And that is why any news that hotel chains are expanding their ski hotels portfolio is always good news to me.

Panorama of Park Hyatt Beaver Creek
Panorama of Park Hyatt Beaver Creek

Hyatt and Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH)

Late in 2018, Hyatt went into a partnership with Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH) and this meant World of Hyatt members can get stay and points credit after booking and staying at selected SLH hotels that are part of this partnership. While the start of the partnership does not include all the hotels in SLH’s portfolio, there are several ski properties in SLH’s portfolio that makes this great from a skier’s standpoint.

The SLH hotels near a ski area that joined the partnership includes:

  • Kristiania Lech at Lech am Arlberg in Austria
  • Hôtel Le Strato at Courchevel in France
  • Le M de Megève at Megève in France
  • El Lodge Ski and Spa at Sierra Nevada Mountains in Spain
  • Rusty Parrot Lodge & Spa at Jackson, Wyoming in USA
  • Kasara Niseko Village at Hokkaido, Japan
Town at night
Town of Lech am Arlberg at night

In addition, Hyatt’s acquisition of Two Roads Hospitality Group that consists of the Alila, Destination, Joie de Vivre, Thompson hotels portfolio means they are adding more ski hotels. Destination Hotels operates the following resorts which are near a ski area, all of them in the United States

  • Resort at Squaw Creek at the Olympic Valley, Lake Tahoe, California
  • The Landing Lake Tahoe Resort at South Lake Tahoe near Heavenly Ski Resort, California/Nevada
  • The Gant at Aspen, Colorado
  • The Stonebridge Inn at Snowmass, Colorado
  • Christiania at Vail, Colorado
  • Montaneros in Vail at Vail, Colorado
  • Manor Vail Lodge at Vail, Colorado
  • Vail Residences at Hotel Talisa at Vail, Colorado
  • Newpark Resort at Park City, Utah
  • The Lodge at Spruce Peak at Stowe, Vermont
  • Sunriver Resort at Bend, Oregon with shuttles to Mount Bachelor
Funitel Plaza
Squaw Valley Ski Resort at Olympic Valley near Lake Tahoe, California

While the current list does not account for much, it greatly increases access for Hyatt members to earn and redeem points for ski vacations in Europe. Not to mention Hyatt has been adding their own hotels to expand their footprint of ski hotels worldwide. Some of their notable ski hotels includes:

  • Park Hyatt Beaver Creek at Beaver Creek, Colorado
  • Hyatt Centric at Park City, Utah
  • Hyatt Place at Park City, Utah
  • Hyatt Place at Keystone, Colorado
  • Hyatt Regency at Lake Tahoe, California
  • Hyatt Centric La Rosiere at France
  • Park Hyatt Niseko, Hanazono at Hokkaido, Japan
  • Hyatt House Niseko at Hokkaido, Japan
  • Park Hyatt Changbaishan at Jilin, China
  • Hyatt Regency Changbaishan at Jilin, China
  • Hyatt Place Chongli within Thaiwoo Ski Resort at Zhangjiakou, China

The above list does not even take into account several Hyatt Residence Clubs located in ski resorts in the United States that are akin to timeshare programs and thus not readily available to reservations for hotel guests. As you can see, through partnerships and acquisitions, major hotel chains like Hyatt has nearly doubled their ski hotels coverage around the world. In the past, I have stayed at the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek and the Hyatt Place in Salt Lake City while skiing in Colorado and Snowbird in Utah, and they were amongst my favourite places to stay while skiing. With that said, I am excited to try out some of these hotels in the near future since that would allow me to regain status in the World of Hyatt program, earn points that I could use for future stays or even redeem points when I have enough of them.

Mount Yotei from Lower Hirafu
View of Mount Yotei from Niseko

Marriott with Design Hotels

Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) was one of the earliest hotel chains with the largest number of ski hotels amongst hotel chains worldwide. With their acquisition by Marriott and their partnership with Design Hotels, I believe they still have the advantage in terms of room numbers with ski-in/ski-out hotels though I have never really delved deep into the exact numbers.

Some of the Design Hotels that have been great additions to the SPG/Marriott portfolio includes:

  • Hotel Zhero at Ischgl/Kappl, Austria
  • Montana Lodge & Spa at La Thuile, Italy
  • Huus Hotel at Gstaad, Switzerland
  • The Cambrian at Adelboden, Switzerland
  • Chandolin Boutique Hotel at 4 Vallées, Switzerland
  • Giardino Mountain Champfèr near St. Moritz, Switzerland
Hotel exterior
Hotel Zhero in Ischgl/Kappl

This is in addition to some of the largest collection of ski hotels in United States and Asia, some of which includes:

  • St. Regis Aspen at Aspen, Colorado
  • The Westin Snowmass Resort at Snowmass, Colorado
  • The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa at Beaver Creek, Colorado
  • Beaver Creek Lodge, Autograph Collection at Beaver Creek, Colorado
  • Marriott’s Mountain Valley Lodge at Breckenridge, Colorado
  • Sheraton Steamboat Resort Villas at Steamboat Springs, Colorado
  • Marriott Mountain Resort at Vail, Colorado
  • The Westin Monache Resort at Mammoth Mountain, California
  • Marriott’s Timber Lodge at South Lake Tahoe, California
  • St. Regis Deer Valley at Park City, Utah
  • Park City Marriott at Park City, Utah
  • The Westin Resort & Spa Whistler at British Columbia, Canada
  • Delta Hotels Whistler Village Suites at British Columbia, Canada
  • Kananaskis Mountain Lodge, Nakiska Ski Area at Alberta, Canada
  • Le Westin Resort & Spa Mont Tremblant at Quebec, Canada
  • Residence Inn Mont Tremblant Manoir Labelle at Quebec, Canada
  • The Westin Trillium House Blue Mountain at Ontario, Canada
  • AC Hotels Innsbruck at Tirol, Austria
  • W Verbier at 4 Vallées, Switzerland
  • Cristallo, a Luxury Collection Resort at Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy
  • Four Points by Sheraton Bolzano at Dolomites, Italy
  • The Kiroro, a Tribute Portfolio Resort at Hokkaido, Japan
  • Sheraton Kiroro Resort at Hokkaido, Japan
  • The Westin Rusutsu Resort at Hokkaido, Japan
  • Courtyard by Marriott Hotel Hakuba at Nagano, Japan
  • Sheraton Changbaishan Resort at Jilin, China
  • The Westin Changbaishan Resort at Jilin, China
  • The above are not a complete list of Marriott hotels that provide easy access to skiing but they are probably some of the more prominent ones that I can list at the top of my head. By acquiring SPG, Marriott has actually gotten access to some of the more desirable ski hotels in addition to some high-end Ritz Carlton resorts found in ski resorts. In addition, they have a good variety of European and Asian hotels and resorts that have ski in/ski out access.

    Dusk over the St Regis
    St Regis Aspen

    What Does This Mean for Skiers?

    Partnerships like what Hyatt and Marriott/SPG has created with niche hotel chains that allows skiers to earn points have given more choices and flexibility for leisure travellers. Some ski resorts have very poor accommodation choices and those that partner with established hotel chains tends to have better websites and flow of information. That allows skiers to get assistance in procuring ski passes and rentals before arrival, creating a much smoother ski vacation experience.

    Guest room interior
    Guest room at Sheraton Kiroro in Hokkaido, Japan

    The creation of multi-resort ski passes like the Epic Pass and the Ikon Pass that allows skiers to access ski areas around the world for a single fixed price has certainly resulted in the flow of travellers to ski and that certainly caught the attention of hotel groups. This trend of increased travellers into ski resorts is likely to continue and that means it is essential for hotel groups to have tie-ups that allows travellers to earn and redeem points for ski hotel stays as the number of hotel stays for skiers is just going to go up. This represents an expanding opportunity for hotel chains seeking to grow their business since skiers tend to stay longer nights per stay.

    View from the terrace
    View from the Westin Snowmass in Colorado

    At the other hand, ski resorts should also take note in working with established hotel chains as that would certainly increase skier numbers. If I may take a page out of Westin’s playbook, eating well and sleeping well forms a major part of a great ski vacation. And there is a reason why hotel chains like Marriott and Hyatt are popular amongst travellers since they get most basics right with good global customer support. In that sense, it makes ski hotels more accessible to first time visitors.

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