Due to the Zika concerns throughout the Caribbean and South Florida plus the uncertainty in Europe, the market has seen a rise in Incentive Groups in destination with ski mountains. Many companies are deciding to stay domestic for 2017 and/or 2018 and a ski trip is a great option for companies looking for a unique experience.
These destinations have endless options for activities from the obvious skiing and snowboarding but also tubing, snowshoe, cross country skiing, snowmobiling and even dogsledding in some locations. Most of the properties below also have world-class spas and fitness facilities. The pools are heated and open year-round, the hot tubs being especially popular.
They do a great job providing those guests who aren't hitting the slopes an opportunity to still enjoy the destination with aspres ski parties, wine or whiskey tastings, Gondola rides, and cooking lessons.
In these locations we are finding gaps in rooming patterns between college spring breaks mid March and April school vacations. The rates are more competitive and these properties are working hard to fill these gaps with Incentive Groups.
The one challenge for many ski resorts is airlift into the destination and driving time to the resort. For convenient airlift, Park City, Utah is one of the top locations given the air traffic and low flight prices into Salt Lake City.
The additional properties below take a little more patience to get to but once there, you don't need to explore much further for dining or activities.
5 Good Fit Ski Properties for Incentive Travel:
Hyatt Centric, Park City Utah - 130 Rooms, 10,000 Sq Feet Meeting Space
Great airlift due to Jetblue being headquartered in Salt Lake City. Most accessible mountain destination in North America, only 35 minutes from airport. Four major areas for hotels; Deer Valley, Canyons Village at Park City, Park City, Kimball Junction and Surrounding Areas. Good option for groups up to 50-60 room nights on peak due to lodge setup. A few great hotel options are Montage Deer Valley, Stein Eriksen Lodge Deer Valley, Waldorf Astoria Park City, Hyatt Centric Park City, Park City Marriott, Grand Summit Hotel, and St. Regis Deer Valley.
Overall you can find a some affordable room rates in March/early April compared to other 5 star hotels in the US. Obviously the Montage Deer Valley and St. Regis Deer Valley will still demand higher room rates even during this shoulder period.
The Hyatt is one of the properties with the best bang for your buck with ski-in/ski-out access to 7,300 acres of skiable terrain at Canyons Village. Tucked away in the Wasatch Mountains, Hyatt Centric Park City is your convenient base camp for alpine adventure, no matter the season. Explore Park City, a former silver mining boomtown turned world-class outdoor destination, and stroll down charming Main Street.
The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe - 180 Rooms, 10,000 Sq Feet Meeting Space
Competitive rates make up for the long travel days as many locations require one stop to get to Reno airport (Reno airport is almost 40 minutes away). Small intimate property with ski in/ski out options along with an impressive on site spa/gym facility. Food and drinks were great in each venue. Slow paced and relaxing environment that focuses on après–ski versus nightlife. Great lodge feel and perfect for a group size of 80-110 rooms during Feb/March/April. Plenty to do in the area for those non-skiiers including Snowmobiling, Dogsleding, Tubing, Shopping and Brewery Tours.
The Ritz-Carlton Beaver Creek - 181 Rooms, 13,000 Sq Feet Meeting Space
Another property who offers competitive rates on a small intimate ski mountain. Located ~2 hours from Denver airport but only 20 minutes from the Vail airport. Also located only 8 miles from the Village in Vail. Another good value property during the shoulder season of March. Evoking a traditional mountain lodge, the resort offers unmatched ski-in/ski-out access, a renowned spa, luxurious accommodations and locally inspired dining.
Stowe Mountain Lodge - 275 Rooms, 55,000 Sq Feet Meeting Space
Another cozy and intimate property with plenty to do and impressive spa facilities. Plus the meeting space can't be beat for large corporate events with breakouts required. Only downfall is the travel time/airlift for just 3-4 nights as it's located almost 4 hours driving from Boston and about 45-60 minutes from Burlington airport. As the only ski-in, ski-out luxury mountain lodge to open in the northeast in more than half a century, Stowe Mountain Lodge, at the base of Stowe Mountain Resort, furthers the area's designation as the ski capital of the East. Mid-week rates are favorable in the winter time especially early in the season when you are taking a risk on the snowfall.
Four Seasons Jackson Hole - 128 Rooms, 9,700 Sq Feet Meeting Space
Another incredible ski resort if you can be patient with the travel to get there. Airlift is improving and in the winter there will be daily non-stop flights from 12 US cities on United, Delta and American. From the East Coast, direct flights will be coming from New York and Newark only for the time being. Most resorts are located 25-40 minute drive from the airport. The Four Seasons is only a 3 minute walk to Teton Village and one mile away from the National Parks. The village provides great restaurants and bars for Aspre Ski Options. They also have a 12,000 square foot spa on property which includes 16 treatment rooms and also complimentary yoga classes. Hit the slopes at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, which is located slope-side to Four Seasons. Jackson Hole has a great disc golf course in Teton Village and it's free to play. The 10-hole course starts uphill from the bottom of the Bridger Gondola and weaves around the lower mountain. You won't get bored at this location!
Two Bonus Canada Locations:
Westin Resort & Spa, Whistler - 400 Rooms, 20,000 Sq Feet Meeting Space
With easy airlift into Vancouver this location and property continues to strive with Incentive Groups. The mountain not only provides great skiing but guests are continually impressed with strolling the streets of the Village at Whistler. This property is located in the centre of Whistler Village, just steps from the Whistler and Blackcomb Mountain gondolas. The size of the Westin has allowed more competitive pricing than some of the luxury Whistler properties. Each room is residentially-designed suites with fireplace, soaker tub, and kitchen. There are three other great big name properties in Whistler, all with over 250 rooms and minimum 10,000 square feet of meeting space; Four Seasons, Fairmont, and Hilton.
Fairmont Lake Louise - 552 Rooms, 30,000 Sq Feet Meeting Space /Fairmont Banff Springs - 760 Rooms, 75,000 Sq Feet Meeting Space
For this destination there is good airlift into Calgary and the location is approximately a one hour drive. The hiking even in the late winter/early spring is something that will impress!
Surrounded by soaring mountain peaks, the majestic Victoria Glacier and a glistening emerald lake, the iconic Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise hotel is located in Alberta's Banff National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is recognized globally for progressive environmental stewardship and responsible tourism.
The Lake Louise Ski Resort is the largest ski area in North America. With more than 4,200 skiable acres and 139 named runs to choose from, this alpine terrain offers the perfect variety for all abilities. Every chair lift has both an easy and a more difficult way down, allowing everyone from novice to expert to enjoy and explore the whole mountain, including the famed back bowls. The ski hill is open from mid-November to early May and is a 10 minute drive from the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. A complimentary shuttle service is available for hotel guests.
Located in the heart of Banff National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the world famous Fairmont Banff Springs hotel stands as a landmark in the picturesque alpine town of Banff, Alberta. Canada's "Castle in the Rockies", has been providing legendary hospitality to our guests for more than 125 years.
Fairmont Banff Springs is a year-round luxury mountain resort that offers a championship golf course during the summer, unparalleled skiing in the winter, the award winning European-style Willow Stream Spa, and authentically local dining experiences.
You can't go wrong with either of these properties and for US attendees the currency exchange is currently in your favor. Sourcing properties in Canada can help lower the budget 20-25% or you can get more property for your budget.
There is one risk when looking at winter destinations and it is a big one. And this risk is two sided. SNOW, there can too little to participate in winter activities or there can be too much so travel becomes very difficult into the smaller airports or from the airports to the lodges/hotels. It's a big risk and one bigger than rain in the Caribbean, but if you can luck out with good weather then the trip will be something to remember for years to come.