So you and the crew have decided to do a nice ski vacation. You’ve found what area you want to ski at, and the time-frame for going. Awesome. And, if you’ve read some of our previous blogs you’ll have already decided that you’re going to stay in a private home, a condo, or a townhome vacation rental, instead of a hotel. Nice job.

But, wait. Which condo or townhome are you going to stay at, and why? What should you be looking for? Well, the fact that you’re reading this note would suggest you’re already well on your way to making some good decisions. This missive is here to help ensure that you, your friends and family have the best, most epic ski trip possible by addressing important, often-overlooked elements of your vacation rental selection: your travel, and arrival.

Before the arrival there’s the travel, so let’s start there. Whether it’s a car ride from somewhere in-state, or a plane-ride half-way around the world there’s going to be travel. Now, for most folks winter-time travel usually involves more uncertainty than summer-time travel. Ok, let’s be honest and replace uncertainty with a more appropriate, and feared word – DELAY. Whether it’s from a delayed departure due to a polar vortex (or as most people know it – a snowstorm), a parcel that went wandering in baggage claim, or a dizzying night-time drive up a mountain pass, there’s always the potential for delay. So that, by the time you get to where you’re going you’re generally tired (and sometimes exhausted), frazzled, and just ready to chill, er…relax.

So how does this tie-in to your arrival, and related vacation lodging selection? It does so in several key ways. First, it’s important to know what kind of flexibility a place has in terms of arrival times. Some places have complex procedures for obtaining property entry keys. Getting into such units upon a late-night arrival can be a hassle. If you’re going to arrive late, what accommodation has been made to get you into your place easily and with a minimum of effort? Do you have to go to a manager’s office to get a key? Is the manager’s office going to be open at zero-dark thirty? Perhaps the unit has coded, keyless entry locks which generally make for much easier arrivals. But what if you forget the code, or left it at home? Who do you call? Is there 24-hr property management coverage? The best property management will have local, 24-hr on-call personnel who will be available to assist in your darkest hour of need.

What if, due to travel requirements, you are going to arrive prior to normal check-in time? Some vacation rentals are very rigid and don’t allow early arrivals. Great, now what? What are you supposed to do with all your stuff? In this instance, it would be wise to confirm with management that they have a secure place to store your gear until you can enter the unit. If you’re planning to ski in the interim, is there a place to change and get ready somewhere on the premises?

Given advance notice, some vacation lodging properties will allow early arrivals, especially if there are no conflicts with previous guests, and/or cleaning staff schedules. In some cases, management may even allow you to store your gear in the property while the cleaning crew is there. If this is the case you will be able to change into something more appropriate, and head out while the property is finished up.

How are you arriving? If you are not driving, or don’t have a car, consider how complicated some of the above issues could get. Driving somewhere to get a key might be ok, but walking there with your luggage, in the dead of night, on ice, while wearing your airline tracksuit and Gucci slippers? Yikes! And keep in mind that without a vehicle, it may be difficult to travel-about, either to town or to the ski area while waiting for a place to open up.

If you are driving a vehicle, or vehicles, to your final destination, there are other issues to consider. Does the unit have parking space available? How much space? Is the space on the street, undercover, or in a garage? While heated parking structures may seem a bit over-the-top (no pun intended), there is nothing wonderful about having to shovel 2’ of snow off a car roof, and scrape ice off the windows when it’s 20 degrees, the wind is howling, and your gloves are nicely tucked away in the car trunk, at the very bottom of your ski bag. Oh, and let’s not forget those first two poignant minutes in the car, when all conversation (and breathing) ceases while waiting for the heater/defroster to kick in and your back-side to slowly anneal to an ice-cold bucket seat.

All kidding aside, there’s quite a bit to consider here regarding your travel, your arrival and their impacts on your property selection. But don’t let that scare you. The more information you have, the better your decisions will be. And much of the information discussed here can be obtained from a unit’s property manager. In future pieces, we’ll discuss additional information to help in your home/condo/townhome vacation rental selection. And remember you can always call us with any questions/comments you may have, especially if you’ve made the first and very best decision – to stay with us here in Winter Park, CO.