An Insider’s Guide to Ski Leases: Tips and Advice

apres-ski-club     heavenly-condo-rental

Ski Leases. The Ins and Outs of Getting Into One. I’d like to talk to you about ski leases. Not the kind to lease ski equipment, but condo and cabin rentals for an entire ski season for ski addicts like us. I had never heard of one until the end of last season. After I learned about them, they seemed so intriguing and beneficial to my situation that I had to learn more. I finally got into one and would like to tell you about my experience with my first ski lease. By doing so, I hope that you will gain some insight into them and learn about what they are and how you too can get into one. I’ll start with my story and then provide a general description of a ski lease and then some tips from people that have lots of experience with them. Hopefully this will help you into your very own ski lease.

So, I discovered ski leases I saw them as a great ski housing opportunity for me and my family. You see, I’ve come back to skiing full tilt after almost 20 years of hiatus. Back in the day, I skied every opportunity I could get and being young and without responsibilities, never had an issue finding a place to crash when up in Tahoe. Back then, the freedom of being able to drive up to Tahoe, bum around, ski lots and have really no worries about a place to stay was taken for granted.

Flash forward twenty some-odd years and is it still that way? We all know that answer to that. Marriage and kids have become the major parts of the equation. Since the kids are now old enough to ski all day without a meltdown, we can go up a lot. However now when we go its not just me and my buds anymore. Can you imagine going up to Tahoe with my wife and three kids to just show up at someone’s place ready to crash there? It just doesn’t work that way anymore.

What is a family to do? Buying a ski house is out of the question right now. We could book a hotel stay, but that gets very expensive especially for those of us with a ski season pass with the goal of getting in as many ski days as possible. How about day trips? We gave had to go that route towards the end of last season because we were spending an ungodly amount of money on hotel stays. I’m sure I’m in a similar boat to many of you out there. The solution for someone like us was the seasonal ski lease.

What is it? Basically it is a rental of a condo or cabin in Tahoe for the ski season. If you know you’re going to Tahoe often for skiing then renting a condo/cabin for the ski season is a great alternative to paying for hotels/other lodging each time you go up. It can be more cost effective but also more convenient because you can leave your ski gear and clothing at your ski lease cabin and not worry about having a place to stay and the chore of having to pack for every ski trip. Combined with a season pass to your favorite ski resort, the major expenses are covered and you’ll only have the cost of meals and gas to worry about. If you’re a ski nut like me and aren’t yet in a similar situation, I can’t express how priceless it is to have peace of mind, comfort, and the convenience of having a ski season pass and a place to stay anytime during the season taken care of.

If you’re ready to take the plunge into a ski lease, how do you get into one of these great deals? Through my research, I’ve discovered three ways.

1- you can deal directly with the owner of a property and lease the place for you and your family for the season. If that is too costly, then you could ask families that you know if they’d want to go in with you and share the cost of the lease.

2 – you could contact a local professional that brokers these kinds of deals. I haven’t had much luck finding these professionals though. From what I’ve heard and if you can find one, they can put you in touch with owners that are looking to rent out their property. Once in touch with the owner, you could do the lease yourself or put together a group of members to split the cost. A good resource for Lake Tahoe area ski lease membership offerings is listed on Snowpals.

3 – you could go to online resources and search for individuals that already have a deal in place with the owner of the property and are looking for additional “members”. For those of you that are new to this, this route is probably the easiest way to enter the ski lease world. Snowpals is a great resource for Tahoe ski leases and has an entire section dedicated to available Tahoe area ski lease opportunities. For those of you looking for ski leases in areas outside of Tahoe, you could check TGR, Epicski forums or Craigslist for postings.

The cost per membership varies and there are so many options out there. I’ve seen listings on Snowpals for full season(typically December to April) ski lease membership for one person from $600 all the way to $2000. If you’re single and can spend just $600 for lodging for an entire season–that’s an amazing deal; let’s say you stay at the ski lease for a total of 30 nights, your cost per night would be $20 per night. Naturally, the more nights you stay, the more value you get from the ski lease. Signing up for ski lease membership is a great way to maximize your ski season pass since it encourages you to go up to Tahoe the night before and be close to the ski resort and can take advantage of a good night’s rest and skiing/riding fresh tracks/powder when resorts open. Also, the value of beating the crowds and traffic to the resort is priceless. In addition, getting into a ski lease gives you the chance to expand your social circle and make new friends.

So, how did I find my ski lease? I got into mine by letting everyone I knew know that I wanted to learn about ski leases and my desire of joining one. Within a short period of time, a friend contacted me to ask if my wife and I would be willing to go in with them on a ski lease. He knew the owners of a great place in Truckee and they mentioned to him that they wanted to rent the place for the ski season. I told him absolutely and that we should jump on that. We brought our families together along with one other family and now we have a great house to stay in any time we want from Dec 14 to May 15. Each “member” in our group is each family. We each paid an equal lump sum on November 1, have no guest fees and our lump sum cost includes all utilities and snow removal. It is such a great deal. Of course, if another family is up there when we go up, we must share the space with them, but since we all know each other and our kids are all friends, other members being up there makes our stay more fun. Also a great benefit is that we take turns watching the kids so each set of parents get some down time. We also rotate turns cooking so that gives us more quality time to enjoy our time together.

So what are some of the pitfalls? There have to be some, right? From my research, most pitfalls come from a misunderstanding of the rules of use when in a group ski lease. If you leased the place on your own, then the rules are yours and yours alone. However, if you are going into a ski lease as part of a group, then it is important to understand the rules otherwise there could be trouble. Of course it is important to click with the other members and if you do then it is important to nail down whatever rules all the members of the ski lease decide on. Here are some things to consider from my wise and experienced ski lease mates, Eric and Andy:

  • What does your membership cost include? Make sure you know up front what your membership cost includes and what other expenses (if any) you’ll be responsible for at the end of the lease (e.g. utilities, firewood, hot tub maintenance, snow removal, house cleaning services, etc.)
  • Guest fees. Some ski leases charge “guest fees” for non-members to stay overnight to cover any additional expenses for lease. Make sure you are clear about guest fees in your ski lease and the rules for them
  • Parking. What are rules for parking? Last thing you want is to go up late Friday night and not have a parking space or at least be prepared for no parking space. Consider the option to carpool or ride share to your ski cabin if you don’t have alot of people in your family and empty seats in the van/SUV.
  • Storage of your stuff. Can you store stuff at the ski cabin/ski lease and if so what are the rules and where do you store your stuff?
  • Priority for bedrooms. If it is important for you to be in a bedroom, then what are the chances that you might not get one if everyone in the membership happens to be up at the same time. Some ski leases have agreements to allocate a dedicated bedroom where it is solely yours for the entire season which is very beneficial to bringing your own bedding and store your winter clothing and gear in the closet for convenience and easy access.

So, if you go up to Tahoe a lot and need the convenience of your own home without the financial commitment, but want a more cost effective solution than hotels/motels, a ski lease is the way to go. There are so many different options available out there. A great place to start is our very own snowpals.org ski lease section of the website. If you’re in a different area than Tahoe, you can also try craigslist, TGR, epicski, snowheads forum and other places online in your search to join a ski lease.

Many thanks to Eric and Andy, my ski lease mates who share their many years of experience and useful advice on how best to get into a ski lease and reap the benefits of maximizing our ski season pass, lodging cost savings and most of all, deepening our friendship with shared experiences. Also many thanks to those of you who provided me with some great stories and advice.

Read more about ski leases and/or list yours

Take care and enjoy!

Joe Woo is Snowpals’ Resident Ski Gear Tester & Columnist. He lives with his family in the North Bay.

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POWder Parties, Ski Bus Deals, Ski & Ride Vacation Getaway

POWder Parties, Ski Bus Deals, Ski & Ride Vacation Getaway

 

Help us celebrate our 14th Season as a ski and ride community: engage in some fun at our annual season kick-off POWDER parties happening around the SF Bay Area – view photos from previous events!

 
 
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Ski & Snowboard Movies coming to SF Bay Area

Here’s a summary of 2012 Ski & Snowboard Movies & Films coming to the SF Bay Area: 

As of October 22, 2012, minus seven days until the first Tahoe resort, Boreal, open their doors. Opening date for most Tahoe resorts typically fall on the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. So, what’s there to do between now and then? Mark your calendar and gather some friends to watch one or more of the following 2012 ski & snowboard films/movies coming to the SF Bay Area, and score a free lift ticket*..

*Most showings will give out a free mid-week 2012-13 lift ticket or a 2 for 1 lift ticket coupon/voucher.

Ski Movies:

  • Warren Miller’s Flow State shows multiple dates at Northern California locations; starts on November 7, 2012; see below. Ticket Pricing varies from $20, depending on location.

“Warren Miller’s 63rd annual ski and snowboard film will take you into the zone…the moment…the groove…the center…the Flow State.

Warren Miller’s Flow State guides viewers to the top of the world’s most striking peaks, taking you on an exhilarating journey across the globe to Norway, Austria, California, Switzerland and beyond. The powder in Japan will send you scrambling to tune-up your gear, the gravity in Telluride will have you scheduling an avalanche refresher course, and the steeps in Alaska will drive you to push a little harder during your next preseason workout. Winter is right around the corner, and it is time to enter the Flow State…where the mountain meets the mind.

Hosted by Jonny Moseley and showcasing celebrated athletes including Colby West, Chris Davenport, Jess McMillan and David Wise, Flow State throws down some of the most captivating footage ever shot by Warren Miller Entertainment. Olympic gold medalist Ted Ligety takes on Alaska’s mighty Chugach, Julian Carr bombs down Utah’s famed Wasatch, Jackie Paaso explores the Norwegian Arctic and Chris Anthony makes Warren Miller history on 70-year-old, 10th Mountain Division ski equipment. Roll-call winter’s finest athletes, because they are all here – embodying the essence of the Flow State and tackling the mountain with absolute attention and deep confidence.”

*Film showing includes TWO – 2 for 1 lift ticket, one for Heavenly, and one for Kirkwood:

“BUY-ONE-GET-ONE FREE(BOGO) LIFT TICKET OFFER TO HEAVENLY
Everyone attending Flow State will receive One (1) 2-FOR-1 lift ticket voucher to Heavenly*.

AND

BUY-ONE-GET-ONE FREE LIFT TICKET TO KIRKWOOD*
Everyone attending Flow State will receive One (1)
2-FOR-1 lift ticket voucher to Kirkwood.

*Buy One (1) adult lift ticket at the retail rate and receive a second lift ticket for FREE. Both tickets must be used on the same day. Offer valid from Opening Day of the 2012-13 season through 4.14.13, with the following restrictions: NOT VALID on Saturdays; NOT VALID 11.22.12 through 11.25.12, 12.15.12 through 1.01.13, 1.19.13 through 1.21.13 and 2.16.13 through 2.18.13. Not valid with any other discount offers. No cash value. No refunds.

Dates, Locations & Showtimes:

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
Palace of Fine Arts Theatre
3301 Lyon Street, San Francisco, California

Showtimes

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 – 6:00pm
Wednesday, November 7, 2012 – 9:00pm

WALNUT CREEK, CALIFORNIA
Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts
1601 Civic Dr, Walnut Creek, California

Showtimes
Wednesday, November 7, 2012 – 6:00pm
Wednesday, November 7, 2012 – 9:00pm

PALO ALTO, CALIFORNIA
Spangenberg Theatre
780 Arastradero Rd, Palo Alto, California
Showtimes Friday, November 9, 2012 – 8:00pm

CAMPBELL, CALIFORNIA
Campbell Heritage Theatre
1 Campbell Avenue, Campbell, California
Showtimes Saturday, November 10, 2012 – 7:30pm

SAN MATEO, CALIFORNIA
The College of San Mateo Theatre
1700 West Hillsdale Boulevard, San Mateo, California
Showtimes Sunday, November 11, 2012 – 7:00pm

BERKELEY, CALIFORNIA
Wheeler Auditorium
101 Zellerbach Hall #4800
University of California, Berkeley, California
Showtimes Thursday, November 15, 2012 – 8:00pm

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
Castro Theatre
429 Castro St, San Francisco, California
Showtimes Friday, November 16, 2012 – 8:00pm

SAN RAFAEL, CALIFORNIA
Marin Center
10 Ave of the Flags, San Rafael, California
Showtimes Saturday, November 17, 2012 – 8:00pm

PLEASANTON, CALIFORNIA
Amador Theater
1155 Santa Rita Rd, Pleasanton, California
Showtimes Sunday, November 18, 2012 – 7:00pm

SANTA CRUZ, CALIFORNIA
Rio Theatre
1205 Soquel Avenue, Santa Cruz, California
Showtimes
Tuesday, November 20, 2012 – 8:00pm
Wednesday, November 21, 2012 – 8:00pm

MODESTO, CALIFORNIA
State Theater Modesto, California
1307 J Street, Modesto, California
Showtimes
Friday, November 30, 2012 – 6:30pm
Friday, November 30, 2012 – 9:00pm
Saturday, December 1, 2012 – 4:00pm
Saturday, December 1, 2012 – 7:30pm

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Snowboard Film:
 
Resonance brings shred fans deep into Absinthe’s world of powder and powerful riding with the legendary pros such as Nicolas Müller, Gigi Rüf, two times Olympic silver medalist Danny Kass as well as Scotty Lago and nine more heavy hitters riding in misty locations from the Alps to Alaska.
 
Free Sierra-at-Tahoe early season 2012-13 lift ticket with paid admission. Not sure on exact  restrictions, check with Sierra at Tahoe.
 
Tickets are $10 and are available at the following snowboard shops or at the door:
SF Snowboarding 1630 Haight St., San Francisco, CA
Milosport 3566 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette, CA
 
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Completed:
 
October 30,2012 TGR’s The Dream Factory shows at the SF Palace of Fine Arts.. Follow the Teton Gravity Research modern day athletes on this cinematic voyage through Alaska’s awe-inspiring expanse, rich history, and colorful characters. Watch as the TGR crew ventures from Alaska training grounds Jackson Hole, WY, and Pemberton, BC, and delves deep into the Alaskan way of life during a record snowfall year in AK, skiing terrain most of us only dream about. Everyone in attendance at the San Francisco premiere will receive TWO FREE midweek lift tickets, one for SQUAW VALLEY/ALPINE MEADOWS(a $92 value) and the other lift ticket for MT BACHELOR.  Buy discount movie tickets and join Snowpals for conversations and drinks before the movie.
 
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  • Powderwhore Ski movieChoose Your Adventure – 
    Despite the underwhelming winter of 2011-12, in which snowfall reached near record lows and unstable avalanche conditions, the Powderwhores were able to make the most of the conditions at home and abroad, with trips to Cerro Castillo, Chile; La Grave, France; the Antarctic Peninsula; Svalbard, Norway; Mount Foraker, Alaska; British Columbia, Canada, and the Wasatch Mountains in Utah.The film features an array of characters from salty backcountry veterans to some of the top skiers and snowboarders, including Chris Davenport, Jake Sakson, Andrew McLean, Seth Wescott, Dylan Freed, Noah Howell, Matt Reardon, Drew Stoecklein, Forrest Coots, Ian Provo, Neil Provo, Chuck Mumford, Darrell Finlayson, Bob Athey, PY Leblanc, Jason Thompson,Todd Stuart and Hugo Harrison.”Remember the classic Choose Your Own Adventure books? We are playing with that theme for delivering this ski odyssey.” says Powderwhore athlete and founder Noah Howell. “Our interest lies in finding exotic locations and people with real stories and objectives. We wanted to tag along and capture their actions and motivation for heading into the mountains. It’s more of an authentic experience this way. Instead of a staged video shoot we arranged, we traveled light and moved fast to avoid interfering with the actual adventures unfolding.”Chris Davenport joined the filming while on a boat on the Antarctic Peninsula. “I have had the opportunity to ski on the Antarctic Peninsula three times and it has quickly become one of my favorite places in the world for ski mountaineering,” Davenport says. “I love life on the boat, and the easy access to incredible ski terrain make it hard to beat. Throw in the amazing wildlife and gorgeous ocean views and you have a location second-to-none for the new film ‘Choose Your Adventure.’In the end, this is a feature-length ski film that celebrates exotic locations, wild adventures, and the dedicated personalities writing their own stories in snow.Proceeds benefit Snowlands Network.
  1. First showing: Wednesday October 17th Sports Basement Bryant Store(1590 Bryant St.) at 7pm. Get Tickets Now for $12, or $15 at the door. Get there early at 6pm to enjoy happy hour (10% off all purchases in store and complimentary beer and snacks)
  2. Second showing: Thursday October 18th Sports Basement Presidio Store (610 Old Mason St) at 7pm. Get Tickets Now for $12, or $15 at the door. Get there early at 6pm to enjoy happy hour (10% off all purchases in store and complimentary beer and snacks)
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