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Book this, not that: Ski hotels edition

Sept. 30, 2021
7 min read
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Snow is already lightly falling on the mountains, which can mean only one thing: Ski season is almost here.

Ski trips can present some unique planning challenges. First, there's the reality that, unlike tropical locations or theme parks, there's a very short season for ski destinations. Typically, in the U.S., snow can only be relied upon from December-March, which creates a supply-and-demand problem as a whole year's worth of activity is compressed into about four months.

Next, location is everything. There's a huge difference in staying at a ski-in/ski-out hotel versus having to load up everyone, haul your gear, fight for parking and contend with winter driving conditions, even if there's only a mile or so between you and the mountain. This difference is amplified if your trip involves kids or some half-day skiers. In fact, one of our top recommendations to improve your ski trip is to stay on the mountain you intend to ski to save yourself a lot of headaches.

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But, everything has trade-offs and if you want a prime ski date in a ski-out location, it's often going to cost you a pile of pretty pennies -- or a lot of points.

So, outside of working with an unlimited budget, you probably have to sift through how to get what you need at the price that you want. While there's no one best place to stay on a ski trip, in today's installment of "Book this, not that," here are a few of our top ski hotel picks where we like to use our points and a few that we pass on more often than not.

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Book this: Park Hyatt Beaver Creek

(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

If you want a convenient ski-out, points-friendly property, you will have a hard time topping the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek in Colorado, where award nights cost 30,000 World of Hyatt points.

That's not an insignificant number of points, but it's worth it as the hotel is literally steps away from the lifts and ski school at the base of Beaver Creek, eliminating virtually all of the hassles of a ski trip.

There's a ski valet to manage your gear, one of the best spas I've experienced in the U.S. on the premises and if you are staying on points, you also avoid the resort fee. Hyatt Globalists using points even get to skip the parking fee and all Globalists can enjoy free breakfast, making this a top pick for using points and enjoying the powder.

Related: 4 things to know if you plan to ski at a Vail Resort this season

Book this: St. Regis Deer Valley

(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

Another luxe ski-out property, as long as you have some ski experience, is The St. Regis Deer Valley near Park City, Utah. While there is a resort fee of around $40 per night, your 85,000-100,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night here can score you a room that otherwise sells for about $1,000 during prime ski season.

Like at the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek, here you'll find an on-site ski valet, spa and multiple dining options.

Oh, and since it is a St. Regis there are usually other fun treats such as an evening wine sabering, over-the-top complimentary s'mores (as shown above) and if you have Marriott Platinum status, there's an included breakfast option in your future.

Skip that: W Aspen

W Aspen. (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

OK, hear me out here. I actually had a great stay at the W Aspen when it opened in 2019 and it might be the perfect hotel for your trip.

However, I went during the fall off-season to enjoy the changing seasons at nearby Maroon Bells, which I highly recommend doing at some point in your life. This is not the hotel where I'd stay for a ski trip to the Aspen area, though. In large part, that's because the mountain it is nearest is not actually skiable by most once-a-year ski families as it is more advanced terrain. Nearby Snowmass just a few miles down the road is actually the better option for more occasional skiers and families than staying and skiing right in Aspen.

Additionally, the W Aspen prices out the same as a high-end overwater villa in the Maldives at 85,000-100,000 Marriott points per night. The hotel also has a pretty specific bold and energetic vibe that might not be the perfect match for everyone.

If you like a good after-ski party and are an advanced skier, go for it. Otherwise, skip this and instead consider ...

Book this: Viewline Resort Snowmass, Autograph Collection

Down the road from Aspen, you'll find Snowmass and the on-mountain Viewline Resort Snowmass, part of the Marriott Autograph Collection. This is a true ski-out property for most skiers and riders located toward the bottom of an easy run. Otherwise, it's just a short, free gondola ride to ski school for those brand-new to the sport.

Westin Snowmass as seen from the lift. (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

Until this season, the property was known as the Westin Snowmass, but it's currently undergoing what looks to be a substantial renovation and rebranding and is set to reopen this winter as the Viewline Resort Snowmass, so you might even be among the first to experience its new look.

Better yet, it's still just 50,000-60,000 Marriott points on most ski season dates so booking this one at that award rate is a smart plan for ski-out accessibility that won't drain your points bank account.

Skip that: Highline Vail - a DoubleTree by Hilton

(Photo courtesy of Hilton)

Here's one more that might be right for your situation, even if we personally skip it.

The Highline Vail - a DoubleTree by Hilton has public areas that look to be much nicer than the DoubleTree name might imply and costs 80,000 Hilton points per night on most winter ski dates.

While Hilton doesn't have a published award chart, that amount is near the top of what standard rooms cost, even at many luxurious properties in the Hilton Honors portfolio -- and is just a few thousand points less per night than the villa we booked at the Conrad Bora Bora. That's part of the reason I skip it -- for that many Hilton points, there are other ways I'd like to redeem.

Additionally, the available recent reviews of the physical rooms have not been all that spectacular. But most importantly, this hotel is not right on the mountain or located in the main Vail Village and instead is located in West Vail. There are complimentary shuttle buses operated by the hotel, but you won't be able to ski in or out while staying here.

If you can find a good rate and don't need to be right on the mountain, this might be a great choice. But otherwise, your 80,000 Hilton points per night might get you more elsewhere.

Bottom line

Ski trips are a lot of fun, but where you stay matters more than on most trips.

Tired legs, bulky gear, whiteout conditions, or the need for a crowd-free lunch break make an on-mountain hotel often worth the points splurge if you can swing it. If you are going to use points for a ski trip, we recommend giving serious preference to ones that are truly ski-out and skipping the ones that just happen to be located in a ski town.

Featured image by (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
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3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

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Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases