For the next month, Hubby G and I will be travelling through Canada, Utah and Colorado on a fly-ski-drive trip. Last autumn, we took the plunge and bought an EPIC season pass. Buying it in September gave us a 40% discount and although each pass still cost around £750, we knew that if we booked a ski holiday of more than a week we would cover the outlay.
Many ski passes for a day at a resort in Canada and America are priced at more than £100 per day. This meant that an eight-day trip would make the pass worth buying.
But, of course, we planned to do more with the EPIC pass. It is valid all winter season and covers a large collection of ski resorts around the world.
There are other collective season passes, such as the Ikon, but we liked the look of the EPIC because it included many resorts that we already knew and loved and others, such as Whistler and Telluride, that we had always hoped to ski.
The EPIC allows for unlimited skiing at some resorts and a limited number of days at others. It even includes seven days of skiing in the Three Valleys in Europe.
We reckoned that if we bought the EPIC pass we would definitely make use of it and the money would not be wasted.
Buying the pass also meant that it gave us the focus for a ski trip – and we decided that if we were going to get the most from it we should really plan an extended holiday.
Spreadsheets, maps and websites
We drew up a spreadsheet of resorts covered by the EPIC pass, looked at maps on-line and checked out resort websites.
We decide that a month would be a good length of time to travel through British Columbia, Utah and Colorado. We fancied Idaho and Wyoaming, too, but when we looked a the driving distances it all became a bit too much.
Hubby G asked for extra time off work and I made a plan to be able to take a month off, while doing some work from my laptop on the trip. Freelance life makes longer trips possible.
Then we drew a line on the map between many resorts covered by the EPIC pass.
It was obvious we would need to book at least one internal flight, plus we needed flights from Scotland to Canada and return flights from Colorado or Utah.
We would also need two separate A-to-B car hires. We started looking at booking our own flights and car hires and then realised it would be very time consuming.
A call to Travel Counsellors
A friend recommended her sister, Cathy, who is part of a company called Travel Counsellors. They specialise in organising bespoke travel trips and Cathy was happy to help with flights and car hire only. She sent us a few suggestions according to a range of dates, durations and airport configurations.
We chose this schedule:
Outward flight: Glasgow-Reykjavik-Vancouver with Icelandair
Car hire A: Vancouver to Calgary
Internal flight: Calgary to Salt Lake City in Utah
Care hire B: SLC to Denver
Return flight: Denver-Reykjavik-Glasgow with Icelandair
While Travel Counsellors do charge for their work (or course) it was a lot easier and less time consuming. In addition, the booking is ATOL protected, which means that if any of the companies go bust your trip is financially covered.
Cathy has also been very helpful and it is possible to contact her throughout our trip to help with any issues.
So, armed with a programme of flights and car hires, all we needed to do was book accommodation and to decide how long to spend at each resort.
Accommodation and resorts
After a three-week ski-drive of the Powder Highway two years ago, we knew that we should spend at least two or three days at each resort. Last time, we looked at the resort maps, saw only a few lifts and thought we could experience a resort in only a day. That was rubbish and it turned out that the resorts sizes are far bigger than the number of lifts appears to suggest.
We also knew from prior experience that there is a lot of driving to be done between resorts, so we planned to stay at half-way locations, even if this meant buying an extra ski pass at a few resorts not covered by the EPIC pass. (We will be getting our money’s worth from the EPIC pass anyway.)
We booked most of the accommodation through Airbnb, as well as a few places on Booking.com.
We are also lucky to have friends in/near some of the resorts and they have been kind enough to offer us a bed in their homes. We always offer friends our spare bedroom when they are in Scotland and we have been lucky to make friends in various places who have been as welcoming of us.
Because I am a journalist and I have this website, I have also been offered a couple of courtesy stays at resort hotels, including Kicking Horse and Fernie. I will write about these resorts and the accommodation. But, mainly, we have paid for this entire trip ourselves.
I plan to write a series of blogs while we are travelling so that you can see our experiences and possibly plan a similar trip, or, at least, be inspired to take an extended skiing holiday.
A few photos of our first day of skiing on our EPIC trip. In Whistler Blackcomb.
British Columbia: Detour to Revelstoke.
British Columbia: EPIC time at Kicking Horse.
British Columbia: EPIC ski trip: Fernie.
Colorado: Telluride Ski Resort