The money's in moguls for agents booking ski holidays

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Some travel agents shy away from the winter sports market on the assumption that die-hard skiers are only interested in cut-rate Internet deals. While it's true that those deals do exist, thanks to ski resorts dumping their unused product online for last-minute sales, the real money for retailers is in the flurry of upscale resorts offering rates and packages designed for well-heeled visitors. 

In Aspen, Colo., for example, Miami-based Villazzo opened two luxury residences agents can book for their monied clients.

The VillaHotel La Niche, in the hills of Smuggler Mountain minutes from downtown, was designed for families or couples and is equipped with five bedrooms, six-and-a-half baths, separate guesthouse, indoor Jacuzzi and outdoor barbecue area.

The second property, VillaHotel Bear's Creek, is a 4,000-square-foot mansion on one acre with four bedrooms and four-and-a-half half baths as well as a gourmet kitchen. The master suite comes with a fireplace, large Jacuzzi and sitting room with mountain views, while an outdoor Jacuzzi is flanked by a barbecue area with teak furniture.

Rates range from $4,200 to $5,400 a night for seven nights.

For more information, call (877) VILLAZZO (877-845-5299) or visit www.villazzo.com.

Whiteface Lodge in Lake Placid, N.Y., opened in 2005 within reach of Whiteface Mountain, site of the Winter Olympic Games in both 1932 and 1980.

The resort unveiled a two-night Experience the Olympics package priced from $1,600 per couple or $2,475 for a family of four.

The rate includes one- or two-bedroom accommodations at the 85-suite lodge, a three-day lift ticket, adult group ski lesson, an afternoon cross-country skiing trail pass and ice skating on an Olympic rink.

Prices are valid Dec. 1 to April 16. Call (800) 903-4045 or visit www.thewhitefacelodge.com.

Stowe away

In Stowe, Vt., the Topnotch Resort and Spa lures guests with a free ski concierge program that minimizes the hassle that goes along with renting equipment.

High-end boots, skis and bindings are for guests, as are lift tickets at Stowe Mountain and Smugglers Notch. Guests can also wile away off-slope hours at the newly renovated Spa at Topnotch.

Rates start at $295 per night, double. Call (800) 451-8686 or visit www.topnotchresort.com

Badrutt's Palace in St. Moritz, Switzerland, offers a two-night Romantic Getaway with accommodations, daily breakfast, a candlelit dinner and a one-day ski pass valid for the entire region.

Prices start from about $1,700, double. Call (800) 745-8883 or go to www.badruttspalace.com.

To contact reporter Felicity Long, send e-mail to [email protected].

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