Even wealthy want bargains on ski trips

Glut of luxury accommodations at ski resorts shakes up hotel industry

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— Even the rich want a bargain on a ski vacation — and they’re getting them at high-end resorts across the West this year.

An increasing supply of four- and five-star hotel rooms and stagnant demand from travelers is forcing properties to drop prices or add value to try to entice guests, according to tourism officials.

Aspen’s premiere property, The Little Nell hotel, isn’t immune to the trend. The five-star hotel owned by the Aspen Skiing Co. is offering free lift tickets and extra nights for customers throughout the ski season, with blackout dates only during Christmas and Presidents Day weekend. High rollers can get two free lift tickets for each full day they are at the hotel, or they can book four nights and get a fifth night free.

The deals are being offered to guests who can afford to stay in a hotel where a standard, town-view room goes for $840 per night in March.

“I think everybody is out there looking for a deal, even those that don’t need a deal,” said John Speers, Little Nell general manager.

The St. Regis Aspen also touts an Aspen ski package that includes two adult lift tickets per day, as well as $50 food and beverage credit, to customers who book at least two nights.

The Little Nell started offering the lift tickets and free night last season to spur business during slower times of the season. It worked, Speers said, so the value-added deals were revived this season. The hotel posted its usual strong occupancy figures in 2009-10 despite the recession, and, so far, reservations are slightly ahead of last year’s pace at this time, Speers said.

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