Make Valentine’s Day extra special with a quick Valentine’s Day Getaway. Moms and dads who are lucky enough to have someone to watch the kids overnight can escape to for a romantic weekend in Santa Barbara.
For romantic digs during a getaway, look no further than the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara. A Hollywood favorite since 1927, the oceanfront resort’s secluded 20-acre property features a blend of botanical gardens, coastal panoramas and world-class amenities.
The Biltmore offers a number of packages and experiences specially designed to fan the flames of romance. Enjoy champagne and strawberries then linger over breakfast in bed with the Celebration Package, or spend an extra day exploring or escaping together with a third night free.
My favorite hotel in Santa Barbara is the Canary Hotel, a Kimpton Hotel. The hotel is the perfect place to pamper a significant other and the Room for Romance package offers dinner for two and an in-room bubble bath. Add a little wine to the romance with the Urban Wine Trail package, which includes a bottle of wine, a cheese plate, bike rental for two and a map with recommendations for the best wine trail destinations.
It might be a bit of a drag to fight Thrusday-night traffic from Los Angeles, but don’t rush. Romanticize the journey and take the coastal route. If you really want to splurge, you can even hire a driver.
It’s a new year and so that means it’s time to try new things. So, why not take up a new sport. While many people think that Southern California is just about sun and surf, it’s also got some fantastic mountain resorts. Head up to Big Bear Lake, Calif., for some of the area’s best snow sport opportunities.
To kick off the New Year, Big Bear Mountain Resorts is inviting beginner skiers and snowboarders to come up and enjoy the snow during the month of January with free rental equipment for anyone who purchases a beginner lesson package. The offer is valid any day during the month of January, excluding holiday periods. Packages must be reserved at least one day in advance online at www.bigbearmountainresorts.com or by phone at 909-866-5841.
For the little tykes there is Little Bear Camp and Little Bear School at Snow Summit, where kids as young as 3 years old can get started on the bunny slopes. At Bear Mountain there is Riglet Park, where kids from 3 to 6 years old are introduced to snowboarding on miniature park features, using Burton’s innovative Learn-to-Ride Technology.
And why not make it a family affair. The ski resorts offer adult classes too. The classes are for persons age 13 and older. Some adults that have skied before but who want to want to learn how to snowboard can do so through the adult lessons. Big Bear’s qualified instructors will show anyone who wants to learn the ropes of having fun on the slopes. One of the great things about learning a new snow sport is it is never too late to learn.
I have skiing and snowboarding on the brain right now as we are about to head out on our annual family ski trip (just have to get through Christmas). This year, we are staying closer to home, but I was excited to learn that January is “Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month” in Colorado Ski Country USA (CSCUSA). What does this mean for families? Deals of course. Resorts are offering a variety of deals and discounts to entice kids and adults to come to the mountains and give skiing and snowboarding a try, sharpen their skills or pick up a new discipline. In addition to CSCUSA’s First Class program, which provides a free beginner lesson and equipment rental to qualifying fifth graders in January, resorts are offering significantly discounted lessons and Learn to Ski and Snowboard packages that include lift tickets, equipment rentals, and lessons taught by highly trained professional instructors. So, if you are headed to Colorado this January, it’s an ideal time to take up the sport.
Below is a list of the Learn to Ski and Snowboard offers from CSCUSA resorts:
Good for kid or adult first timers only, the Super Sunday Special package includes a lift ticket, equipment rental, and a beginner lesson. Guests who purchase a Super Sunday lesson will be entitled to discounts on future lessons. Prices for adults are $99 for skiing and $107 for snowboarding, while prices for kids are $79 for skiing and $84 for snowboarding. The items in these packages can be purchased individually; Super Sunday lessons will be $59. Adult ski rental: $20; adult snowboard rental: $28; kid ski rental: $10; kid snowboard rental: $15; Beginner-area lift tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for kids. 2014 Super Sunday Dates are January 5, 12, 19, 26; February 2, 9, 16, 23. Valid for morning, half-day lessons only (10am-12:30pm).
Free One Run Lessons
Guests are matched up with instructors who learn the guest’s ability level and goals during a Black Mountain Express chairlift ride. During one run down the mountain on terrain accessible from the Black Mountain Express lift, instructors coach relatively minor movements that make major improvements to guests’ skiing. Sign-up is day-of, first-come, first-served from 10:00 am – noon. 2013-14 Dates: December 7, December 15, January 4, January 26, February 9, March 9. For more information, visit www.arapahoebasin.com.
Beginner’s Magic For Adult Skiers And Snowboarders
Learn the basics of skiing or snowboarding from professional instructors who practice a teaching method that promotes peak performance and confidence and educates about the right equipment and mountain awareness. Available at Snowmass and Buttermilk every day, this program is best for adults who are first time beginners or who are only comfortable on beginner terrain. Lessons start at $199 inclusive of lift ticket, equipment rental, and full-day lesson when booked at least seven days in advance.
For Kids & Teens – Experienced professional instructors share their wealth of knowledge and instill an appreciation for the mountain environment. Their passion is contagious and kids enjoy perfecting their skills while they develop a love for the sport. Beginners learn in a supportive and fun environment while developing confidence and life skills. They will explore the mountain, try new skills, terrain and snow conditions based on appropriate skill development and experience the thrill of the pipe and park and/or race course with expert coaches. Available at Snowmass and Buttermilk every day, kids will be in groups with other kids or teens of similar ages. Lessons start at $111 for a full-day lesson when booked at least seven days in advance. For more information, visitwww.aspensnowmass.com/schools.
Free Skiing and Riding for Beginners During Ski and Ride Month and All Winter Long
All season long beginners can access and learn for free on the Easy Rider carpet located in Center Village. Once basic skills are learned, a ticket for the Pitchfork chairlift is $15, allowing beginners to master getting on and off the lift while perfecting turning and stopping.
Woodward at Copper Barn – Great for Newbies and Beginners
This past summer the Woodward at Copper Barn underwent a half-million renovation project which opened the door far beyond snowboards and skis to now include skateboards, BMX and slopestyle mountain bike . All synthetic snow surfaces were replaced with a surface designed for wheels. Families and amateurs alike are invited to experience the renovations expanded offerings for never-evers with additions including a new beginner foam pit with two-foot and four-foot jumps, a pump track designed for the development of park skills, and new programming to bridge the gap and see results on snow. For more information, visit www.coppercolorado.com.
$59 Beginner Ski or Ride Package.
For Learn to Ski Month this January 2014, Crested Butte Mountain Resort is offering a $59 beginner ski or ride package. The package is available for adults to learn how to ski or snowboard at a 63 percent discount. This package is for first-time skiers and snowboarders, age 15 and up only. It includes an Adult First Time Beginner Adventure Ski or Snowboard lesson and a 1-day adult lift ticket valid for limited lift access on the day of the lesson. Participants can also receive a 50% on rentals when they redeem their Liftopia voucher at the Adventure Center. Visit www.skicb.com/learn for more information and to book this package through Liftopia.com.
Free Unrestricted Season Pass for Qualifying Kids
All children (ages 4-14) regardless of ability, who pre-purchase or complete 3 full day lesson packages, receive a free unrestricted season pass to keep practicing their skiing or snowboarding skills for the rest of the season. Children’s full day lesson packages include lesson, lift access, rentals (ski or snowboard) and lunch. Full day lessons are from 10am through 3:30pm daily. Phone reservations are available or register at the Loveland Valley between 8am and 9am. Pre-purchase price: $315 for ages 6-14 skiers & snowboarders (Includes Season Pass) $345 for ages 4-5 skiers (Includes Season Pass) (4-5 yr old program includes early drop off beginning at 8:15am). For more information, visit www.skiloveland.com.
First Timer Lessons
First-timer lessons at Monarch are conducted in a group setting and provide first time, basic, beginner instruction to get new skiers and snowboarders comfortable, moving and having fun on their equipment. Packages include all-day lift ticket, equipment and helmet rental, 2.5 hrs. of group instruction, and a snack. Lesson begins promptly at 9:30 or 11:30 and are $89 for new snowriders aged 7-12 and $99 for ages 13 and older. For more information, visit www.skimonarch.com.
Learn to Ski and Ride Season Pass Program
Powderhorn Mountain Resort and the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel join forces to bring back the Learn to Ski and Ride Season Pass Program for the 2013 – 2014 winter season. Designed for first time skiers or snowboarders ages eight and up, the Daily Sentinel’s Learn to Ski and Ride Season Pass program features three consecutive ski or snowboard lessons at Powderhorn Mountain Resort with the Intensive Series, which includes a full day group lesson with an hour break for lunch.
Lessons run from 10am – 12pm and 1pm – 3pm and focus on weather precautions, changing snow conditions, etiquette on the mountain and the Skier/Rider Responsibility Code. Participants emerge from the series with a great foundation in their chosen snow sport, and are able to put new skills to the test on-mountain. Upon completion of the three-lesson program, participants receive a free season pass for the remainder of the 2013 – 2014 season.
Cost for the program is $269 for youth and pre-teen participants (ages 8-17), $320 for adults (18+) and $299 for full time college students. Visit www.powderhorn.com for a list of regular season rates and details on the Learn to Ski and Ride Pass pass program.
Discounted Basic Beginner Packages
Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort is pleased to announce two new low cost packages during January 2014 for children and adults who want to learn how to ski or snowboard. The program includes two new packages plus a discount card for future skiing or snowboarding.
The Basic Beginner Packages include full-day ski or snowboard lessons for adults/children, basic rental equipment, and lift tickets. Offered Jan. 6 – 31, 2014, the two-day package is $158, $100 off the regular price while the one-day package is $79, a savings of 39 percent.
Upon completion of the 1-Day or 2-Day beginner packages, participants will receive a card good for discounts on lessons, lift tickets and rentals for the remainder of the season through March 30, 2014. These discounts are valid for use of the LSSM participant only and include lift tickets at $50 for adults, $40 for young adults, and for $30 kids; lessons are $39 for a half-day group lesson, $59 for full-day group lessons; ski or snowboard rentals are $20 for adult basic, $17 kids. Blackout dates apply: 2/15/14 – 2/16/14 and 3/8/14 – 3/15/14. For more information, visit www.durangomountainresort.com.
Ski Granby Ranch
Get On The Snow Season Pass for Qualified Beginner Skiers and Snowboarders
For $199, complete two ski or snowboarding lesson days and graduate with a “Get On The Snow” season pass to Ski Granby Ranch, as well as a 20 percent discount coupon valid for a retail merchandise purchase. Get on the Snow is for level one, never-ever beginners ages 10 and up.This program is available from January 6 through March 6, 2014.Lessons do not have to be on consecutive days. Not valid with any other offers or promotions.No discounts offered for having equipment or passes.Black-out dates apply: January 17 – 20, 2014 and February 14-17, 2014. Reservations required. For more information, visit http://www.granbyranch.com/.
Learn to Shine Program For First Time Skiers And Snowboarders
The Learn to Shine package includes three days of lessons, equipment rental and lift tickets. Plus, participants receive a free 5-Day ski pass once they’ve completed the lessons – all for $365. The three lessons can be taken on the dates chosen by the student, whether those dates are consecutive or not.
Skiers and snowboarders that participate in the Learn to Shine program are matched with top-notch instructors that will have them navigating beginner terrain by the end of their first day. For more information, visit http://www.sunlightmtn.com/.
Winter Park’s Family Easy Start
Learning to ski or snowboard is more fun as a family, and the Winter Park Ski + Ride School offers a great program that allows families to learn together, creating shared memories for one all-inclusive price. For $679 for a half-day or $859 for a full day a family of four gets four lift tickets, four equipment rentals, a private instructor, and access to all the amenities of the Private Lesson Center, including lockers, equipment storage, and a cozy lounge. For more information, visit www.winterparkresort.com.
First and Second Day Beginner Packages
These package is ideal for those who have never skied/snowboarded before. The First Day package ($60 for skiers, $66 for snowboarders) includes an all-day lift ticket to the Nova Lift and four hours of professional instruction (from 10am to noon, and from 1pm to 3pm) for new skiers and snowboarders ages 9 and up. The Second Day package ($70 for skiers and snowboarders) includes an all-day lift ticket to the Nova and Raven Lifts plus two hours of professional instruction. This package is designed as a follow-up to the 1st Day Beginner Package, although the 1st Day package is not a prerequisite. For skiers and snowboarders ages 13 and up. Prices quoted for the First and Second Day packages do not include equipment rental.
Children’s Camp Robber Clinic – January 11, 25; February 1, 8
This four-week program (Saturdays only) is designed to introduce 5 to 8 year olds to skiing or improve on the skills they already have, all in a fun environment. Children are grouped according to ability and ski with the same children and instructor each week to foster socialization and friendship. Activities include terrain garden, fun races, and mountain safety. Lift ticket, ski rental, four hours of instruction, lunch and snacks are all included each week. $210 for season pass holders; $240 for non-season pass holders. For more information, visitwww.wolfcreekski.com/.
I often change my mind about staying home for the holidays — especially when I miss the idea of a white Christmas or if the L.A. temperatures begin to rise above 70 degrees — and I start looking for last-minute holiday travel deals for the family. It may still be cold now, but in case you catch the travel bug this holiday season, CheapOair has put together some last-minute travel packages perfect for families looking for a quick holiday getaway. Book by Dec. 20, 2013, to take advantage of these specials.
New York City
During the holidays, travelers can experience the many famous sites of the Big Apple, including Rockefeller Center where they can go ice skating and pose for pictures in front of the city’s iconic Christmas tree, to visiting the “Top of the Rock”, which soars 70 stories above the street. More must-do activities include getting tickets to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, along with walking up 5th Avenue to see the lights and decorated storefronts. CheapOair is offering a vacation package to New York for a seven-night/eight-day stay at the Westin New York Grand Central Hotel starting at $2,015 per person.
Orlando, Fla., is the perfect destination to visit for an entertaining holiday experience. Walt Disney World offers visitors its famous fireworks display, a Christmas parade that features Santa and more. For more holiday celebrations the Orlando Museum of Art displays the Festival of Trees,which features some of the most beautifully decorated Christmas trees and window displays you’ll ever lay eyes on. CheapOair is offering a vacation package to Orlando for a nine-night/10-day stay at the Hampton Inn Orlando Florida Mall starting at $1,391 per person.
What’s a festive a festive holiday season without lights Denver offers its beautiful Botanic Gardens, where visitors from around the world travel to watch the Blossoms of Light exhibit. For the perfect way to embrace the season, this annual event contains over one million colorful lights draped in elegant designs that highlight the garden’s winter beauty. CheapOair is offering a vacation package to Denver for a nine-night/10-day stay at the Magnolia Hotel Denver starting at $1,144 per person.
The Phoenix Zoo presents ZooLights each year, which is a dazzling light show featuring more than 700 holiday light displays. This year the annual ZooLights will have two different “Music in Motion” shows, one of which “will take you down the yellow brick road with music from the Wizard of Oz,” as well as 3D LED animal displays throughout the zoo. CheapOair is offering a vacation package to Phoenix for a eight-night/nine-day stay at Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak starting at $915 per person.
Do you feel obliged to travel during the holiday season? Hotwire says you do and statistics show that holiday travelers are going to be spending more this Thanksgiving and Christmas. How much more, you ask? Anywhere between 3 and 8 percent. According to the Hotwire third-annual Hotwire.com American Travel Behavior Survey, conducted online in October 2013 on behalf of Hotwire by Harris Interactive, American adults will spend a total of $72 billion on obligatory holiday travel this year ($14 billion on Thanksgiving travel and $58 billion on Christmas travel).
Compared to Thanksgiving 2012:
Hotel prices are currently up three percent.
Air prices for the top 20 US markets are currently up eight percent.
Car prices are up seven percent.
Compared to Christmas 2012:
Hotel prices currently up four percent.
Air prices for the top 20 US markets are currently up six percent.
Car prices are up four percent.
Hotwire offered some tips on when to book holiday travel:
According to Hotwire, many cities may see higher-than-normal hotel demand during the winter months, but not necessarily over Thanksgiving weekend, since many travelers stay with family or make the holiday a day trip. So, travelers should see some pretty deep discounts in the coming weeks, but the steepest price drops for bookings will occur within a few days of arrival. In fact, many hotels are offering a discount for day-of bookings that can average around 20 percent. Also, many hotels raise rates or require a two-night stay to protect their rooms on the weekends, so try to arrive Thursday and leave Saturday.
Larger cities across the country are seeing hotel deals over Thanksgiving, including San Diego and Boston. Chicago in particular is a bargain as the city is experiencing some large price drops due to a shifted convention schedule.
For travel during Christmas, Hotwire is seeing strong discounts now, waiting for those “Nightfall Deals”, or day-of discounts, can help travelers save big on hotel stays. So, if you can, wait until the last minute to book your hotel room. Christmas is a little different when it comes to finding airfare deals. With Christmas Evefalling on a Tuesday this year, we recommend avoiding travel on that day at all costs.
As noted above, many popular U.S. destinations are showing low hotel rates throughout December, including Chicago, New York City, Portland and Minneapolis. However, over Christmas, Hotwire is also seeing low rates for Canadian destinations in their off-season such as Toronto and Vancouver. For air, Spirit Airlines has increased the number of flights for Las Vegas and Ft. Lauderdale, which is resulting in price drops for both destinations. In addition to Ft. Lauderdale, Floridian cities Tampa and Orlando are each experiencing price drops of five percent for Christmas, while Phoenix is showing a 10 percent airfare drop.