Do you want to ski a lot this season and save money doing it? Sure, you could buy a season pass from your favorite Quebec ski resort, but that restricts you to skiing the same runs for months at a time. Maybe you want more variety, the freedom to choose what hills you want to ski and when. Or maybe a season pass doesn't suit your needs. What if you just want to bring your family out on four or five ski outings at the cheapest price possible?
Canada Lift Pass Program: The Mother of Ski Discounts
The Canadian Ski Council, an organization whose main mission is to promote the benefits of alpine skiing to Canadians, offers what's arguably the best ski deal in the country: the Canada Lift Pass Program. Sold in batches of 20 tickets, applicants choose the package of their choice, pay everything up front and when ski season rolls around, use the tickets at any Canadian ski resort listed in the chosen package deal.
How Do These Package Deals Work?
The Canadian Ski Council proposes several package deals for differing budgets. Each package deal requires the purchase of 20 lift tickets which can then be redeemed at anywhere from 20 to over 50 different Quebec ski resorts as well as at hundreds of ski hills across Canada. In the 2012-2013 season, the cheapest package deal costs $20 per ticket granting access to over 30 Quebec ski hills -- that's $400 plus applicable taxes and a $10 administration fee -- and the most expensive package runs $62 per lift admission at over 50 different Quebec ski resorts -- that's $1,240 plus applicable taxes and a $10 administration fee, which is cheaper than a full season's pass at Mont Tremblant. The tickets are not limited to use by one person, so a family of four could use those tickets to go on five separate ski outings in a season.
When Is the Best Time to Join the Canada Lift Pass Program?
The Canadian Ski Council usually releases its annual batch of lift ticket packages in the summer preceding the next ski season, usually in August. To get the best package deal, skiers and snowboarders are advised to apply for the program as early as possible.
A Few Caveats
Make sure to do to the math and check regular rates for the hills you intend on visiting before choosing a package deal. For example, it might seen great to get the $52 package deal for the 2012-2013 season because it gives access to Mont Tremblant, a ski resort that charges $76 for a day pass in the same season. But many of the other participating ski hills in the $52 package cost less than the package deal at their regular price. With that in mind, do your ski plans include frequent trips to Tremblant or were you thinking of spending more time on neighboring Mont Blanc's more challenging trails, which only cost $38 for a full day's access in the 2012-2013 season? Then you might be better off with the $32 package deal, which includes Mont Blanc but not Tremblant. Also consider that ski resort admission for children and seniors is significantly less, and in some cases, is free, so be sure to spend time assessing if the Canada Lift Pass Program is appropriate for your age group, lifestyle and family. And finally, if you love going to one specific ski hill frequently, then a season pass unique to that resort probably offers more savings than this program would.
Visit the Ski Canada website for more information on the Canada Lift Pass Program.
Note that the Canada Lift Pass Program's package deals and their associated participating ski resorts may change from year to year and without notice.