OK – a couple of days ago I said “next week” I’ll be giving your 10 ways to save money while you’re here in the valley, but why wait? Besides, I’ve put out a challenge to some of my colleagues to add their ideas also, so this may turn out to be a monster list! So, without further ado:
1. Parking: It’s amazing how many people – guests, travel agents, basically anyone that doesn’t live here – tell me that I should promote how much free parking there is here in Winter Park. Basically, the only paid parking anywhere is right there at the base. However, outlying parking areas, the south entrance to Winter Park Drive and all the way to the “gates”, parking by the Vintage (and a free cabriolet ride to the Village), and all designated parking areas along the shuttle routes and at all lodging establishments – are FREE. Most other major ski areas, so I’m told, have paid parking everywhere, not just at the base. So, an “unheralded” way to save money, but these costs can add up if you have money to burn and are exceptionally lazy.
2. Early Bird Dining: Many restaurants will reward you for eating early by either offering special early bird menus, or discounts if you are seated and order before 6PM. Fontenot’s, as an example, have a whole page on their website devoted to Early Bird Specials, with Appetizers, Main Courses and Drink Specials between 4 and 6PM. This is a “must eat at” restaurant anyway so, if you don’t mind eating early, then you can save a bunch of money. Ask for a (free) Grand County Dining Guide when you check in and either look them up online or give them a call and ask what their Early Bird specials are.
3. Ski Rentals: Don’t pay the extra bag, oversize charges that airlines will ding you for by bringing your totally out-of-date skis with you. Rent from the ski rental companies while you’re here and have fun with the latest, top-of-the line equipment, all tuned up and ready to go. Epic Mountain Sports currently offers 20% off if you book online (go ahead and guarantee your equipment of choice before you get here), or ask our front desk for a coupon which will get you the same discount for a walk-in. Remember in my previous articles, kids 11 and under rent free!
4. Grocery Shopping: Resorts, and Winter Park is no exception, are notorious for high prices for groceries, something that causes us locals much angst and – often – forces us to take a trip to Denver every so often to shop for the food essentials. However, as a vacationer, when you’re here, you neither have that ability nor desire: you want to shop at the nearest grocery store. With City Market 15 miles away, your nearest and only grocery option is Safeway. However, there are ways to save money.
First, get a Safeway Card if you don’t have one. If you don’t have one, and the attendant asks you if you’d like one, absolutely say yes! A temporary card will take less than 1 minute to process (don’t feel guilty about holding up other people in line – this is your money you’re saving, not theirs), and can save you a lot of money. Ahead of the checkout line, you need to have purchased as many “red-tag” items as possible in order for those discounts to kick-in. The meat department also has a clearance section which can sometimes save you up to 50% on the stuff you intended to buy anyway!
Apparently you can download brand producer coupons onto your Safeway Card ahead of time and they’ll also be applied at checkout. I’ll leave my colleague Rebecca to explain how all that works – see the comments section below.
5. DiscoverColorado.com: This is the first of 4 “ways” all to do with Coupons. DiscoverColorado.com, one of our advertisers, has a “Printable Coupon Sheet” for every Resort they work with in Colorado – which is pretty much everyone. On the Home Page, you’ll see Printable Coupon Sheets, and beneath it “Destination: Select your Resort, and a “Daily Deals” page will come up. The first coupon on the list is “$20 OFF 2 or more Snowmobile Unguided Rentals with Grand Adventures. If you’ve done it before and feel confident enough about an unguided rental, this is $20.00 off a $95.00 2-hour tour, a saving of 21%!
There’s also One Free Hour of Tubing with Colorado Adventure Park, as long as you purchase three tubing tickets. In other words, 25% off for 4 people.
6. SkiCoupons.com: More coupons on this site, including Activities and Tours, restaurants and more. Here, Epic Mountain Sports offer the 2nd Ski or Snowboard Package at ½-price. As this cannot be combined with the 20% off deal, do the math and see which one gives you the best discount!
7. Local Telephone Directory! I put an exclamation mark here because there are deals to be had if you know where to look. In the restaurants section, Hernandos Pizza Pub (which is the best place for pizza anyway) have 5 different coupons, although you cannot combine with other offers. Again choose which one gives you the best deal and use it. Subway offers a 6” Sub for 99¢ with purchase of any 12” sub and medium drink. Could save $5.00 here at least.
8. Front Desk: We’re continually being bombarded with vendors giving us coupons to hand out, either individually or in booklet format. Ask our crew at the front desk what they have and they’ll give them to you! Being locals, they can also make personal recommendations as to the best places to eat (and when), where to rent, and fun things to do.
9. On-Mountain Restaurants: It pays to plan where you want to eat on mountain. You’ll pay a premium for a view (The Lodge at Sunspot), or save depending on where you are and what you want to eat. If I’m on the Winter Park side, I’ll head to Snoasis which is mid-mountain. They call it a “blast to the past”, which really means it’s had no real upgrades since it was built! But that’s fine. For me has the best on-mountain prices. If all you want is your basic ham-and-cheese toasted sandwich, fries and a coke, I don’t know what this year’s prices are, but you used to be able to get all that for under $10.00. If you’re over at Mary Jane, go to either the Food & Drink Food Court, or Pepperoni’s Pizza and Sports Bar for……….pizza and sport! Pizza by the slice and a good atmosphere.
10. TripAdvisor.com Forum: Finally, go to the Winter Park Travel Forum, follow the posts and ask a question if there’s something specific you have in mind and that you want to save money. I’ve found out things here from other contributors that I had no clue about. Sometimes you can get coupons and deals to things up here that you can only get down in Denver for example. People are always looking for the best lift ticket deals. If you buy 10 gallons of shell fuel, you can get 1 free lift ticket when you buy a lift ticket at the resort. Now, a day ticket purchased at the window is the highest rates you’ll pay anywhere, but if there are two of you, 2 tickets for the price of 1 may turn out to be the best deal out there. Call ahead and find out what the ticket window price is that day, and go from there.
So there’s my Top 10 Tips. Please feel free to add any I’ve missed and help everyone who’s coming here save a bunch on their vacation.