Snow ‘insurance’ guarantees good skiing
For skiers heading to a resort for a weekend of whooshing down snow-covered mountains, there’s nothing worse than arriving to find poor conditions: too little snow, ice-glazed snow or not enough fresh powder.
Some of those disappointed skiers won’t be so disappointed, though, if the resort offers free snow “insurance.” The offers vary by resort — which don’t call it “insurance” but a “guarantee” of good snow — yet the basic offer is the same: If snow conditions aren’t adequate when you arrive, we’ll move you to a different resort or even rebook your stay.
|Some ski resorts offer “snow guarantees.”|
Most ski resorts will accommodate snow-frustrated guests by giving them refunds or shifting them to another ski area on a case-by-case basis, so formal “insurance” programs may not be necessary, says Troy Hawks, a spokesman for the National Ski Areas Association.
Improved snow-making machines further lessen the need for snow “insurance,” Hawks says. Nonetheless, it’s still available in some places.
ResortQuest by Wyndham Vacation Rentals, which rents out condos and homes at six residential properties it owns in mountainous areas of Colorado, Utah and Idaho, offers the “Exclusive Snow Guarantee.” This free “insurance” lets guests relocate to another of the company’s properties if snow conditions at a certain place don’t meet expectations. Guests can contact the original destination within 72 hours of the scheduled arrival to request a shift to another property. If one of ResortQuest’s other properties has an opening, you’re in. Or the stay can be rescheduled.
ResortQuest’s snow guarantee doesn’t depend on the number of ski lifts operating at the time.
Cheryl Spezia, vice president of marketing at Wyndham Vacation Rentals, says most of the skiers who take advantage of ResortQuest’s “snow guarantee” are traveling by car. Two of its Colorado resorts — Breckenridge and Steamboat Springs — are more than two hours apart by car, but can have different amounts of snow at the same time, she says.
Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort in New England offers its own version of a snow guarantee. Customers have 30 minutes from the time they buy a lift ticket to try out the slopes. If not completely satisfied, customers can get their money back in the form of a gift card to use later. The gift card is for the amount of money spent on the lift ticket; it can be redeemed only at the resort.
Stratton Mountain Resort in Vermont ups its guarantee to one hour before skiers can return their lift tickets for another day.
Another Vermont ski resort, Sunday River, has a snow guarantee until 10 a.m., when skiers can return their tickets for a voucher for another date if they’re unhappy with the slope conditions. The restrictions make it less of a deal if you ski early in the season and don’t get good snow. A ticket purchased at a lower rate early in the ski season can be redeemed for a voucher of equal value to be used later in the season. A skier must pay the difference if he exchanges a voucher for a more expensive pass during the peak of ski season.
Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa in Jackson Hole, Wyo., has a different type of guarantee — a “powder clause.” Customers with reservations can watch the snowfall remotely and change their trip dates during the ski season, but they might be subject to a higher price. However, the resort guarantees that even if the new price is higher, it still will be at least 30 percent cheaper than regular rates.