1. Who exactly is Tours de Sport? Is it a travel agency?
Tours de Sport is a winter vacation tour operator located in Owings Mills, Maryland. The company has been providing top-notch ski and snowboard vacations for over 25 years. The company functions somewhat similarly to a travel agency, except that Tours de Sport is highly specialized by offering only winter ski and snowboard vacations. For the 2007 â 2008 winter season, Tours de Sport will be offering vacation packages to 20 different destinations in seven US states and Quebec. Tours de Sport can offer lodging discounts at over 120 properties, encompassing everything from basic hotel rooms to 5-bedroom homes. We also provide discounts on lift tickets, equipment rental for both skis and snowboards, and group lessons for adults and children.
2. Why does Tours de Sport only book vacations to destinations in eastern North America?
There are plenty of fantastic ski resorts in the east, some of which are just as large as anything found in Colorado or Utah. The fact that Tours de Sport offers vacation packages only in the east helps the sales representatives provide a level of specialized expertise unmatched in the industry.
3. How does Tours de Sport offer vacation packages at prices below what the resorts are offering themselves?
Tours de Sport books packages for thousands of travelers every winter. As a tour operator, Tours de Sport receives a substantial volume discount from each of the resorts offered, and the company can pass those savings on to the customers.
4. When is the Tours de Sport office open?
During the fall and winter seasons (October 1 to March 15), the Tours de Sport sales representatives are available seven days a week (Monday through Friday: 9:00am to 7:00pm, Saturday and Sunday: 10:00am to 3:00pm). The office is open five days a week (Monday through Friday: 9:00am to 5:00pm) during the remainder of the year.
5. Does Tours de Sport offer pre-packaged vacations where the components of the package are all included for one price?
Tours de Sport does not generally offer pre-packaged or “canned” vacation packages because we have found that customers want the flexibility to include exactly what they need (and to leave out anything they don't need) in their vacation packages. Because of Tours de Sport's discounted wholesale rates, we are able to offer a discounted âpackageâ rate without the inflexibility of forcing travelers into very specific and often unnecessary vacation inclusions. However, in some instances, we will receive an even greater discount on specific dates from certain properties and resorts. In these cases, we do offer a pre-packaged vacation as one of our âHot Dealsâ. This is because the customers must book those specific dates in order or get the extended discount for their vacation package.
6. Do sales representatives have specialized knowledge of the travel destinations?
Yes, the Tours de Sport sales representatives have specialized knowledge of all the travel destinations offered for vacation packages. Each of the sales representatives have worked in the ski vacation industry for many years, and some have even worked directly for some of the ski resorts themselves. Furthermore, Tours de Sport currently employs two sales representatives that live in Vermont and New Hampshire, and therefore can provide information not only about the actual ski resorts, but also about local activities and events happening away from the resorts, as well as restaurants, shopping, and nightlife.
7. When can I expect to get the best rates on lodging and lift tickets?
The least expensive times to reserve lodging would be during off-peak times when the resorts will be the least crowded. Generally, these dates include anytime before the Christmas holiday season (which begins around December 22), and the latter portion of the ski season, which generally begins in late March, depending on the resort. However, even in mid-season (January and February), most resorts and hotels offer substantial discounts for mid-week travel (Sunday to Thursday). At some lodging properties, the midweek nights cost as little as half as much as the price of the weekend nights of Friday and Saturday. Also, most resorts offer a 20% - 30% discount on midweek and early / late season lift tickets as well.
8. When is the most expensive time to travel?
The highest rates are found between Christmas Day and New Year's Day, and during the two winter holidays: Martin Luther King Day weekend (Jan. 18 â 20) and President's Day weekend (Feb. 15 â 17). The next highest rates are found during the weekends in the middle of the season (January thru early March). Despite the high prices, these time periods are also the busiest and most crowded at the ski resorts.
9. How early should I reserve my vacation package? Will I get a better price the earlier I pay my deposit?
If you are traveling during peak season (see above), it is always a great idea to reserve for vacation package as early as possible. Availability can change very quickly for the dates falling during peak or holiday season, and at most resorts; these dates WILL sell out, and sell out quickly. Apart from that, there is no other benefit to booking early. Some resorts may offer a special âearly bookingâ discount, but this only happens occasionally, and only at a very select few lodging properties.
11. Why must I enter my e-mail address and other information in order to receive a price quote?
In addition to providing an instantaneous price quote for your vacation package, Tours de Sport will also e-mail a copy of each quote directly to your e-mail address, so there is never any need to print out the information on each quote. If you do not wish to enter the information on-line, you may certainly call our office at 800-777-7650 and speak with a Tours de Sport sales representative, who can provide you with any information you may need over the phone.
12. Are the prices I get online different than a price I would get by calling and speaking to a sales representative?
No, whether the price quotes are generated through the online reservation engine, or by speaking directly to a Tours de Sport sales representative over the phone, all prices for each particular item are always the same.
13. Can I book just lodging?
Tours de Sport does not offer lodging-only vacation packages. Because of the agreements the company has with the ski resorts, we must include lift tickets or other skier services with lodging in order to maintain the discounts we receive. In certain instances, we may be able to book a lodging-only package with authorization if there are extenuating circumstances (i.e. season pass holders). Please check with your Tours de Sport sales representative if you have questions.
14. Why did my quote generate a price that did not include a cost for lodging?
There are several reasons why your quote would not include a price for lodging. There are many restrictions involved when booking vacation travel to certain ski destinations. For example, during the holiday period between Christmas and New Year's Day, most lodging properties require guests to stay a minimum of 4 nights, and in some cases even longer. Any holiday restrictions can be found beneath the description of each lodging property. Make sure that your stay includes the correct minimum number of nights. Also, there are some instances where availability at certain properties can change very quickly and the dates chosen may simply be sold out. When you do receive a quote that does not include lodging or any one of the other vacation components, you may certainly contact your Tours de Sport sales representative to correct the error or find an affordable alternative.
15. What are âBlack-outâ Dates?
There are certain time periods throughout the winter where some lodging properties do not offer any available space to Tours de Sport. These are usually high-demand periods such as holidays or special events at the resort. Tours de Sport will not be able to book a package that contains any of these dates. These dates will be listed with the holiday restrictions beneath the description of each lodging property.
16. Are there any other restrictions that I should be aware of?
There is a 2-night minimum on every vacation package that Tours de Sport offers, and as mentioned above, that number may increase during holiday periods. The online quoting system will not let customers price out a vacation for just a single night. Also, there are many properties that do not allow customers to check-in or checkout on any Saturday. The reason is that during weekends, most of these lodging properties are very close to sold out, and allowing a customer to arrive or depart on a Saturday would mean that their room would most likely be empty for the other weekend night. To prevent unsold rooms, these properties do not allow any party to check-in or checkout on any Saturday. Please be aware that even if the online quoting system generates a price quote for a vacation package arriving or departing on a Saturday, the prospective lodging property will most likely not allow this package to be booked. Properties that are more likely to allow Saturday departures or arrivals tend to be more basic, usually off-mountain hotels.
17. What do the $ signs mean in reference to the lodging choices?
The $ signs next to each lodging property represent a very general idea of how much that property costs in relation to other properties offered at the same destination for the same dates. They do not specifically refer to the overall quality of the property itself. Customers should also be aware that prices could vary greatly at the same property depending on the dates of travel. During holiday periods, a property marked with a single $ may actually be more expensive than booking an off-season vacation at a property marked with three or four.
18. What is included in my winter vacation package?
Tours de Sport can provide lodging, lift tickets, rental equipment, and/or group lessons with your vacation package. Also, when you receive a price quote from Tours de Sport, ALL taxes, resort fees, and gratuities are included in that price.
19. What is NOT included in my winter vacation packages?
Other possible inclusions such as transportation (airfare), rental car or airport transfers, taxi service, meals, private lessons, and mountain activities apart from general skiing or snowboarding can not be included and must be paid for separately by the traveler.
20. How long do I have to reserve my vacation package once I receive a price quote?
There is no time limit for reserving your vacation package, except that the availability of lodging at your chosen property is subject to change. Likewise, once you receive a price quote from Tours de Sport, that price will NEVER increase as long as the package itself doesn't change.
21. Since I received a price quote for a specific lodging property, does this mean that my room will definitely be available?
No, because there is no way for Tours de Sport to update the online reservation engine in real-time. Tours de Sport is not directly affiliated with the properties that are offered, so we only receive updates weekly as to the current state of availability. Once Tours de Sport does receive word that certain dates are sold out, we will add those dates to the list of âBlack-outâ dates listed beneath the description of each property. Due to the rapid changes in room availability that occur during the winter season, rooms that are able to be quoted online may become unavailable during your reservation process. Tours de Sport will always do their best to have the most current information handy when you are ready to book your vacation.
22. How do make a reservation if I wish to book my vacation package online?
Once your quote is complete, there will be a link at the bottom of the page that says âBook this Quoteâ. Click on that link and it will direct you to the secure payment section of our website. Please remember to include your billing address and security code that is found on the back of the card near the signature (or the top right portion of the front of the card for American Express). Of course, you may certainly call your Tours de Sport sales representative as well if you wish to reserve your package over the phone and forgo entering your credit card information online.
23. Will I be able to get a confirmation immediately after booking my vacation package?
When booking your vacation package, either online or over the phone with a sales representative, Tours de Sport cannot immediately guarantee that the lodging property has the available space that has been requested. Therefore, Tours de Sport will never charge your credit card without first contacting the lodging property and securing space with a confirmation number. This process does not take very long, but in some cases can take up to the end of the next business day. If the requested lodging is unavailable, Tours de Sport will notify you within 24 hours of your reservation request and will assist you in making alternate accommodations.
24. Do I need to pay the entire package price in order to make a reservation?
No, as long as you reserve your vacation package more than 30 days before the expected date of arrival. In those instances, only a deposit of $75 per person is due upon making your reservation. However, you may be required to pay a larger amount upon booking if your total package price is very large, or if your travel dates fall during holiday time periods. The amount of the deposit is then subtracted from the total cost of the vacation package, and that remaining balance is due 30 days before the date of arrival. Any reservation that is booked less than 30 days before the arrival date must be paid in full upon booking.
25. What if the size of my party is reduced or the people in my party change after I make the deposit?
The deposit itself is transferable, so it does not matter exactly which people are included in the vacation package. Likewise, if there are more than 30 days before the start of your trip and you have yet to make your final payment, there is no penalty if the size of your party is reduced. The $75 per person that had applied to individuals no longer traveling will simply be applied to the final balance. If there are less than 30 days before your trip, there may be fees associated with changing the size of your party or changing the people that are traveling. Please check with your Tours de Sport sales representative in these instances.
26. Will Tours de Sport sales representative contact me to make my final payment?
You will receive an e-mail reminder from the Tours de Sport operations department as your final payment deadline approaches. We will keep the credit card information on file after you make your deposit. So, if there are no changes or additions to make to your vacation package, you may simply reply to the e-mail reminder you receive in order to authorize the final charge on the same credit card that was used for the original deposit. You may also call your Tours de Sport sales representative or speak with a member of our operations department directly in order to make your final payment.
27. Can I pay my final balance directly through the website?
Yes, there is an area of the Tours de Sport website where you may make a payment on line. You will need to click the âLog-inâ link at the top right of the main page. When prompted, enter your e-mail address and password. After the login is complete, all of your current price quotes and booked reservations will appear. Click on the vacation you wish to pay for, and scroll down to the bottom of the package and click on the link for âPay For This Quoteâ.
28. What methods of payment are accepted?
We accept all major credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover), and using a credit card is the preferred method of payment. We also accept MoneyGram, which is an instantaneous payment similar to Western Union. We will accept a personal check or money order, but customers must be aware that no reservation can be reserved until Tours De Sport receives payment. Subsequently, we would not be able to âholdâ any available lodging for any length of time without a deposit, so availability may change during the time that the payment is in transit.
29. Can I use multiple credit cards or have each member of my party pay for their portion individually?
Yes, your Tours de Sport sales representative can handle individual credit card payments. Please be sure that anyone that calls your sales representative to make an individual payment must have the Tours de Sport six-digit reservation number, and the name of the person that originally booked the vacation package.
30. What if we have to cancel our trip? Do we get our deposit back? What if we cancel after we make our final payment?
The $75 per person deposit that is paid upon booking is NON-REFUNDABLE. If you do cancel your trip after making your deposit (but before you make your final payment), you will not get receive of the deposit back in the form of a refund. However, you may be able to use a portion of the deposit towards booking another vacation during the same ski season. If you cancel your vacation after making your final payment, you risk losing the entire cost of the package. In rare instances, you may be able to use a portion of what you have paid towards another booking. The likelihood of this scenario is dependent upon the length of time before your expected arrival that you have cancelled your trip. Please make sure you read the complete terms and conditions before reserving your vacation package.
31. Can I make changes to my package once it is booked? Are there any fees involved to do so?
If you have yet to make your final payment, there are no administrative fees involved if you make additions to your vacation package. However, there are some lodging properties that may charge a fee if you reduce the number of nights in the package once it is reserved. It is always best to check with your Tours de Sport sales representative immediately if you decide you need to reduce the length of your stay. Also, once you have made your final payment, there may be some fees involved if Tours de Sport would need to send any new documentation to you.
32. What kind of information will we receive prior to arrival?
About three weeks before the start of your vacation, you will receive an email from Tours de Sport, which will have attachments that include all the information and documentation necessary for travel. This will include directions, resort and trail maps, vouchers (if needed) for lodging, lift tickets, rentals, etc. as well as check-in and ticket pick-up instructions.
33. Do I need travel insurance?
Tours de Sport strongly recommends the purchase of travel insurance for your vacation. Remember that a large portion (if not all) of your vacation is non-refundable once the final payment is made. It is quite common that serious issues may arise at the last minute (sickness, car trouble, poor weather, etc.) that may affect whether or not you are able to travel. NONE of these reasons is sufficient in order to obtain a refund from the resort. Most of the resorts that Tours de Sport offers have very stringent cancellation policies, and there is never any variation from these policies. Travel insurance is designed to protect travelers from losing their money when issues such as these do indeed arise and travelers are forced to cancel their plans. Please contact your Tours de Sport sales representative for more information.
34. What if I need to make changes to my package once I have arrived at the resort?
If you wish to lengthen the stay at your chosen lodging property, either by arriving early or staying late, you MUST contact your Tours de Sport sales representative as soon as you become aware of the necessary changes. On the other hand, if you wish to shorten your stay, lodging properties DO NOT offer any refunds for early checkouts, or âno-showsâ, even in emergencies. Because potential emergencies do arise, Tours de Sport STRONGLY recommends that you purchase travel insurance. If you need to make changes to your lift tickets or other skier services once you have arrived, you must also contact your Tours de Sport sales representative. Ski resorts do not offer refunds for reductions of pre-paid lift tickets, so it is always best to purchase only what you know you will be using.
35. How can I find the check-in and checkout times for the lodging property I have chosen?
The check-in times vary greatly from one property to another, so be sure to check with your Tours de Sport sales representative. Once your vacation package is reserved, all the appropriate check-in information will be sent to you via e-mail. Generally speaking, hotels and off-mountain lodges tend to have the earliest check-in times, usually around 2:00p. Condominium-style properties tend to have check-in times that are much later due to the extra time required for these units to be cleaned. When booking a condominium, you can expect to check in around 5:00p or 6:00p. Condominiums also have earlier checkout times, usually around 10:00am, while most hotels tend to have checkout times closer to noon.
36. What if I arrive at the property before the scheduled check-in time?
Simply report to the front desk just as you would normally. In nearly every instance, if your room is cleaned and ready for check-in, the lodging property will let you check-in early. Please be aware that during very busy time periods, it is very unlikely that your room would be ready for check-in early, but certainly consult the front desk staff when you arrive.
37. What if I want a late checkout?
Most hotels and off-mountain lodges allow for a late checkout, which is usually an hour past the regular posted checkout. Most condominium properties do not allow for a late checkout, but in some cases these properties will allow a late checkout for an additional fee. Once again, it is always best to consult the front desk staff at the property when you arrive should you wish to request a late checkout.
38. What if an emergency should arise during my vacation?
After reserving your vacation package, you will receive vital information for your trip from Tours de Sport via e-mail. Within that packet of information, there will be a phone number listed that is to be used for emergencies that may arise during your vacation. You will be able to reach a Tours de Sport representative at that number 24 hours a day. If you do not reach a representative on your first call, it is imperative that you leave a detailed message describing your problem and include a number where you can be reached. Even if the representative does not pick up the phone on your first call, they will return the call as soon as possible. If an emergency arises during regular business hours, it is more efficient to simply call the Tours de sport office at 800-777-7650.
39. What happens if I cannot ski or snowboard due to bad weather, illness, or injury?
Each individual ski resort sets its own policy in terms of policies concerning weather conditions. Generally speaking, if there is poor weather or if one of the potential skiers in your party is sick or becomes injured, most resorts will offer a ârain checkâ, whereby they offer vouchers to those customers affected. Customers will receive a voucher for each of skiing that is missed, and the vouchers usually expire 12 months from the date they are issued. These vouchers are good only at the ski resort that issues them. Please be aware that each resort's policy is different, and you should consult your Tours de Sport sales representative for the specific policy at the resort to which you are traveling.
40. Are there other activities at these destinations for any one who does not ski or snowboard?
Many of the resorts offer access to an indoor pool or hot tub, and some even have a full recreation center nearby. Also, there are sledding or tubing, ice-skating, and spa services. Be sure to ask your Tours de Sport sales representative for information on off-mountain activities.