Afternoons Free at Alta

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SAM Magazine-Alta, Ut., Jan. 17, 2007-With adult single-day tickets at Aspen and Vail rising to more than $80, it may come as a surprise that Alta has been offering free lift-served skiing and riding for years. The area's Sunnyside chairlift provides free lift access for the last 90 minutes of the ski day.

The deal is designed to give lower intermediates and beginners access to Alta's Albion Basin, terrain that is ideal for beginners and those just learning to ski, with a few intermedate runs as well as a smattering of short steeps. The free access on Sunnyside compliments Alta's rope tows, which are free all day long.

With mostly green terrain on offer, the program gives guests an affordable option to experience Alta's terrain. And it has been a success. Alta has had to introduce blackout dates to keep the crowds at a manageable level during the busiest days of the season. Coupled with an inexpensive rental package, the deal has brought a significant number of minority skiers and riders to the slopes.

While the resort's ski-for-free program isn't for every mountain, ski areas with dedicated beginner terrain served by one lift can tap into this concept to attract customers-and retain them. \