PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Time to go house hunting. No, not an everything but the kitchen sink move, but a search for that perfect house for a winter of skiing. Look for it now while Fall weather and colors make the mountains a tempting weekend getaway. Find the house, then rent it for the entire ski season, a month or several weeks. My favorite season rental involved three couples, three dogs and a three bedroom house on a scenic lake, just 2 miles from Elk Mountain. It was well used every weekend, for midweek getaways, even as a rest stop on a ski week jaunt to Canada. Renting for an entire season, having meals and after ski parties at the house and splitting the bill with other couples sends the cost of winter getaways into a bargain basement. Where do you start? Here’s where.
Elk Mountain lodging is unique. It has no on-site hotel or condo complex. But it is surrounded by numerous individual homes, cabins and chalets to sleep from 2 to 10. They are set back in woods, on lake fronts and on former farm land with mountain views. The house hunting method here in the Endless Mountains of northeast Pennsylvania is to go through a realtor. They are listed on the Elk Mountain website. I’m familiar with both Gerber and Pass. They’ve been handling seasonal rentals for decades.
The twin ski resorts that bracket Lake Harmony in the western Poconos are rich in seasonal, weekly or monthly rental properties. You can choose from unique individual lake front homes, condo complexes and apartment building style condos. My favorite rental spot here is the Snow Ridge Village on the fringe of the Jack Frost beginner and intermediate trails. Some of the homes here let you ski-out and ski-in. As in most of the condos around Jack Frost and Big Boulder they feature 1 or 4 bedrooms, full kitchens, living rooms, 1 to 3 baths and a fireplace. Some have jacuzzis. They are fully furnished and include cookery and crockery. They are represented by a number of agents, recommended by the ski areas.
At night from our rental townhouse in the Northridge community we could look down at the lighted Camelback Mountain slopes. We always knew when they were making fresh snow. Two to four bedroom homes with a corresponding number of baths, full kitchens, living and dining areas and fireplaces are available for 2 nights to seasonal rentals. The homes are literally a 2 minute drive to the Camelback lodge. Drive rather than walk because you’ll be in ski boots and schlepping skis, poles, boards and all the other gear that goes into a day of sliding on the slopes. Homes in the Camelback backyard are also convenient to Shawnee Mountain.
Pick you favorite ski area. Then contact one of the realtors or the resort that acts as agent for the property. You must make an appointment to be shown a variety of options. If your plan is to rent for an entire season, you’ll want to buy season lift tickets. Generally they cover only one mountain. The exception is Jack Frost and Big Boulder. One ticket covers both hills.
Long term ski house rentals give you a home away from home. You can store your gear, clothing, electronics. You avoid packing and unpacking every time you head for the mountains. Some rentals will allow pets – big saving on the kennel bills. Cooking becomes easier because you’ll have all your own spices and special kitchen ware, handy. Some resort linked rental homes and condos have shuttle service to and from the mountain.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
A fireplace is almost a requirement for a ski home. Check for a firewood supply. Look for a locker at the door to hold skis and boards so they don’t have to be dragged through the house. Carefully check the kitchen to make sure everything is working. Check the previous winter utility bills. You don’t want any surprises. Make sure you know who is responsible for clearing snow. At stand-alone private homes, it’s usually the renter (you). At condo complexes, the association or the resort does it. Get contacts in advance for various emergency and repair services.
WHAT TO AVOID
Long, sloping driveways are something to definitely avoid. Remember, you often arrive after dark on a Friday night. You don’t want to deal with an icy or snow-covered drive that slopes. Avoid any misunderstanding among your rental partners – single friends or other couples and families. Decide beforehand which rooms you each occupy. Decide when you can each have guests (generally when one or more of the other couples will not be at the house.), who does what chores (cooking, cleaning, etc;). Decide how the common costs are to be paid. Just remember, you never really know your friends until you live with them.