Gathering the troops: When I put out the word that a trip is coming up, I often find that a lot of people are interested – right up until the last moment. Thus, I always initially invite a large number of people. Ultimately, I usually end up with only a vehicle or two full of folks. Your friends may not follow the same habits as mine.
When you first announce the trip, don’t worry about the details such as price or sleeping arrangements. This will be easier to figure out once you know how many people are interested in going and when they can go. Keep the group informed as you nail down location, price, date, etc. Shortly before the trip, you should have your reservations made and your price/date set. Remember, most sleeping arrangements change price with number of people per room. Since price will be a deciding factor for some people, make sure your group is aware of worst-case cost scenarios. i.e. “If all 4 of us go, it’s $X each, but if one person bails it costs $X more each.”
Making reservations: Getting the best rate for the resort of your choice is a difficult game with great potential rewards. Rarely have I found any real benefit to large capacity rental units such as condos. I usually book specials at the resort hotel for 2-4 people per room. Keep in mind that, if you do book a large capacity unit, you’ll need to make sure you have enough people going to make it affordable for everyone.
When reserving multiple rooms, I only reserve one room in my name. If additional rooms are needed, I have someone else in the group make those reservations. This greatly reduces the number of people that back out at the last minute. It also prevents me from ended up with an empty room charged to my credit card.
Food at most resorts is crazy expensive. If you can find rooms with a kitchenette and are willing to use it, you can save yourself a lot of money by buying groceries and cooking. Even a microwave helps.
Packing your bags: As much as I want to be prepared, ultimately less is more. Most of my time is spent on the slopes wearing the same snowboarding outfit, so there’s not much need for multiple sets of clean clothes (aside from socks & boxers) unless you know you’re going out one night. Bring the minimum. Every extra item you bring is one more thing to carry and one more thing to take up space in the vehicle.
You’ll appreciate swim trunks/suit for the hot tub. Pick up items like sunscreen, sunglasses, and lipgloss ahead of time as they get more expensive at the resort. For the drive, it’s nice to have some pillows and blankets. I also like to bring enough cash for the whole trip and avoid ATM charges. And, of course, bring your snowboarding gear!
Getting there: If it’s not obvious, bring big vehicles! You’ll want to take as few vehicles as possible for both convenience and cost efficiency. While you’re packing people in, make sure they have stretching room for the long trip. It’s always a good idea to bring an easy to reach cooler packed with snacks and beverages. We usually hit a grocery store on the way to the resort and pack our cooler with food to cover most of the stay.
If you can, bring vehicles that perform well in snow and ice. You probably won’t need it, but it’s nice to have if you do. I’ve gotten to the resort to find “4×4 or chains only” signs on the driveway leading to the registration desk. I’ve also stopped along the way to help folks get their cars and vans out of the icy road-side ditches.
Staying in touch: Before you go, pick up some FRS radios. They’re great for driving more than one vehicle – especially when you reach areas where your wireless phone doesn’t get a signal. You’ll want to use them on the mountain too. I’ve found that a lot of people use these radios on the mountain, so you’ll want to consider picking up models that support extra channels.
Trip policies: There are several policies I make sure everyone understands before we leave. No one staying in my room goes on the trip unless they pay me in advance. I recommend that anyone else with a reservation make the same exertion. Since I organize the trip and reserved the room, I get first choice of sleeping arrangements. Everyone chips in for gas and food expenses – unless someone wants to keep their food separated. Everyone needs to share driving responsibility. While these things may seem obvious, every one of them has, at some point, been an issue. Have a safe trip!