Great winter getaways to plan now
November 1, 2017
It's here; the annual scramble to book the next year's adventures. Alaskans love to plan trips, especially trips to warmer weather, and November marks a milestone for many, whether they purchased a PFD airline sale ticket on a whim, or have been plotting a 2018 getaway for months.
Is this you? Have you pored over the online advertising that beckons eager Alaskans to wander the globe, or checked out local specials at some of Alaska's hidden gems? Either way, November is the time to make some decisions. No matter your style of travel, I've got a few ideas to suit even the most adventurous among us.
No, not on a big ship with 5,000 of your closest friends. I'm talking about an UnCruise. A completely different way to approach the concept of sailing around the Pacific Ocean, UnCruise Adventures is a Seattle-based company with a penchant for, well, adventure, and they do it in a casual, comfortable manner that makes for one amazing trip. Looking for warmer weather? Try their Sea of Cortes, Costa Rica, or Panama adventures. Love Hawaii? They sail there, too, within striking distance of the familiar beaches and attractions most of us visit from the roadsides. If budget travel is your gig, UnCruise is offering $400 off per couple for Alaska springtime itineraries through their new campaign that says, in essence, "May is the new June" in the Last Frontier ( https://www.uncruise.com/destinations/alaska-cruises ). It may not be warm sandy beaches during a Last Frontier spring, but the scenery and wildlife are unparalleled, even for lifelong Alaskans. All UnCruise Adventures itineraries offer kayaking, skiff tours, hiking, historical walks, and ships carry no more than 80 passengers.
The website SeniorSkiing.com is a fantastic resource for all things related to the 60+ skier or snowboard enthusiast, including the best free skiing (cost-wise) areas. Looking for a West Coast destination? Try Mount Hood Ski Bowl, a mere 90 minutes from Portland, Oregon. My dad grew up skiing this local gem located in Government Camp, and takes a run or two at age 85 on a regular basis, for free. Visit http://www.skibowl.com for more information. If a trip to the dry powder of the Mountain West sounds appealing, try Sundance Mountain Resort in Utah, where skiers over age 65 can make tracks for as little as $10 (during holiday weeks). The resort also offers plenty of off-hill amenities too, like music, fine dining, art galleries, and an excellent Nordic center for cross-country lovers. Visit http://www.sundanceresort.com for all the details.
Local hangout Alyeska Resort has some excellent wintertime deals, meaning you don't have to jet away for a lingering weekend. The resort, located just 40 minutes from downtown Anchorage, offers several special packages throughout the winter season, and we've enjoyed trips to the spa, dining opportunities at the famous Seven Glaciers Restaurant, and even a wine and chocolate special. New in November is the resort's Alyeska Wellness Retreat, an opportunity to "re-center" your personal focus on health and wellness, according to the Alyeska Resort website. Not a skier? Not a problem, since Alyeska provides fat bike rentals, snowshoe rentals, and lots of space in the grand Hotel Alyeska to watch the sparkling winter views while sipping a latte or hot toddy. http://www.alyeskaresort.com/hotel-specials-packages
In Hawaiian, the word "holoholo" means to "go out and about for pleasure," and that's just what you'll do on Hawai'i Island with DeWaine Tollefsrud, a summer bear guide in Homer, Alaska, and a winter purveyor of in-depth Hawaii knowledge as owner of Holoholo Adventure Tours in Hilo. Trips are small (only six guests at a time), and Tollefsrud takes care to share the history and culture of the Hawaiian people in a unique fashion. Try the Birth of the Earth tour that includes a trip to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park where thick jungles meet with steaming calderas. Tollefsrud knows the island well, and, as a teacher is able to translate the beautiful stories and landscape of Hawaii into an unforgettable day trip. The company also offers a special deal for Alaskans making the trip to the Big Island, so be sure to ask when booking your half-or full-day tour.
With the exception of the short drive to Alyeska Resort, all of these destinations are accessible via Alaska Airlines, and with the excellent Club 49 and Mileage Plan benefits, getting to your 2018 adventure is easier than ever. http://www.alaskaair.com
Erin Kirkland is a freelance travel writer and author of the Alaska On the Go guidebook series. She lives in Anchorage.