Believe it or not: How booking a private ski lesson saved us money

Jan 24, 2022

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Ski trips are, unfortunately, often on the expensive side of things. There are definitely ways to save money and skiing doesn’t have to be caviar-level expensive, but it is still a financial commitment.

This is especially true for the out-of-town and once-a-season skiers and boarders who likely have to rent gear, book in-season lodging, get lift tickets and potentially also pony up for ski lessons.

While some costs are unavoidable, a recent ski trip to Winter Park, Colorado, was a great reminder that you shouldn’t make assumptions when it comes to booking a ski trip in the most economical way. Just as sometimes a ski pass of some sort can be cheaper than just getting individual lift tickets, booking a private lesson for my daughter made the trip more affordable than if we went the group ski school route. Here’s how.

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Private lessons vs. ski school

For years, I’ve favored private ski lessons for my kids over group ski school. While private lessons usually cost significantly more than a group ski school lesson, I’ve found that my kids’ skills progress much faster with individual attention and — more importantly — they often have a better time.

(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

The pandemic took me from dabbling in occasional private lessons to going that route whenever possible to reduce the chances of them getting sick while away from home. The economics of a private lesson versus a group lesson can improve if you are able to put two or three kids with the private instructor for a family lesson that usually costs the same as a one-on-one lesson, but rarely is a private lesson going to result in cost savings over the more traditional ski school class.

But, fortunately for us, rarely doesn’t mean never.

Related: The right age for kids to start learning to ski

Discount lift tickets with a private lesson

During our recent winter weekend dates at Winter Park, adult lift tickets were $209 each while child lift tickets were $139 each.

A half-day group kid ski school lesson was priced at $219 for my 6-year-old. We were skiing with some family members, so all-in, one child lesson, two child lift tickets and three adult lift tickets for one day of skiing were priced at $1,124.

(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

However, if instead of a half-day group ski school for $219 we booked a half-day private ski lesson at $699, we unlocked the ability to purchase up to five very discounted lift tickets.

With that private lesson, special adult tickets dropped to just $69 each, child tickets dropped to $39 and the ticket for my 6-year-old was only $10. All-in, for the five people that came to $1,124 in the first scenario, the price was $955.

Not only did booking the private lesson instead of the group lesson actually save us $169 in total on the ski day, but my kiddo got some fantastic one-on-one instruction. If that wasn’t enough, when my older daughter and I took a few runs with them to see how she was progressing, we got to skip the pretty long lift lines, too, since we were then also with the private instructor.

Related: Mistakes to avoid when booking your ski trip

(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

Bottom line

In a perfect world, we would have had our ski trips mapped long before they happened and would have leaned into free or discounted child tickets and maybe even bought a season pass of some sort. Winter Park specifically is a part of the Ikon Pass program, which can save you money in some situations — especially if you are able to take more than one ski trip in a season.

However, given the number of our trips that have fallen apart at the last minute in recent months largely thanks to COVID-19, I wasn’t sure we would make it to the slopes until we actually arrived. That uncertainty prevented me from committing to expensive season passes and such in advance, so we were left with this unorthodox way to save money on the trip … by spending more on the lesson itself.

Featured photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy.

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