Pick up a heliski trip in with that dozen rolls of paper towel

Next time you’re at Costco picking up a 48 roll pack of toilet paper and a couple 50 pound bags of dog food, what happens if a sudden urge to carve S turns in pristine thigh deep powder suddenly overpowers you?

Now if your wallet is fat enough you can act on the impulse. Say hello to discount heliskiing.

Costco, the nation’s third largest retailer, has partnered with Valdez Heli Camps to offer a punch card that buys 25,000 vertical feet of skiing in the Chugach Mountains for $999, including three nights lodging. That’s a discount of about $600 in the high end pursuit that can cost skiers and boarders thousands of dollars a day.

“Costco approached us last year with a desire to provide high quality adventure experiences,” said Valdez Heli Camps president Matt White.

“At first I was shocked and then thrilled,” he added.

“Costco offered us a unique opportunity to reach snow riders that may not have considered heliskiing in Alaska skiers or snowboarders that have more time to dedicate to their sport than money.”

The program is about six weeks old and available mainly at Costco’s Web site, which reaches 13 m omega watches illion people a day, according to Jay Nierstheimer, an inventory manager for the company. It’s the only heliski offering in the “Gifts Tickets Skiing” section of Costco’s site.

“The economy is getting back to being a little more stable, but people are still really watching what they’re spending their money on,” Nierstheimer said. “It’s very basic, and we try to keep it as basic as we can. But saving $600, that’s really eye opening.”

Nierstheimer said the new program was go omega watches ing “really well” though he declined to offer numbers.

“It’s something we’re impressed with,” he said. “People seeing it know what they’re get into, so there’s not omega watches a lot of explaining we have to do.”

White said his company mainly sees two types of skiers “the more money than time crowd and the more time than money crowd.” The new program targets the latter.

“It gets them in, gets them a taste and gets them going,” he said, and some skiers upgrade to a bigger package. Plus, he said, “An empty seat on the helicopter today (is one) I can’t sell tomorrow.”

But don’t expect a flood of Alaska’s heliski operators following suit.

“We are not going the Costco route,” said Chris Owens, general manager of Chugach Powder Guides in Girdwood. “We investigated this and found that in order to cut our prices to that level we would have to cut out vital safety and customer service that we just aren’t willing to cut.

“We are going the route of adding more value . rather than going the bargain basement route for a product that simply isn’t built that way.”

Chugach Powd omega watches er Guides, which is now a part of a larger nationwide company call EpicQuest, began offering snowcat skiing Thursday, an option more popular with Southcentral skiers than the pricier heliskiing.

About half of Owens’ snowcat clients are Alaskans, he said, and the company offers a 10 percent discount to anyone with an Alyeska Ski Resort pass as well as midweek specials and bulk discounts.

pick the right hotel

Consumers have more i omega watches ncentive these days to travel light. carriers collected a record $3.5 billion in bag fees during 2012, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. That’s 3.8 percent more than in 2 omega watches 011.

And it’s not just travelers checking more bags.

Among recent changes, Southwest Airlines increased its fee for overweight bags from $50 to $75 for bags weighing 51 pounds or more.

In May, Frontier Airlines announced it will join Allegiant Air and Spirit in charging passengers for bringing on a carry on bag to go into an overhead bin. The cost: $25 to $100, depending on how far in advance the fee is paid. (Carry ons that fit under the seat remain free on all three carriers.)

Hotels have been quick to respond, touting programs that offer the ability to borrow, rent or keep for free items that as a result of new airline policies might not make it into that bag.

In February, Hyatt Hotels and Resorts introduced “Hyatt Has It,” which offers guests free use of items including lint brushes and curling irons, while Westin Hotels recently expanded internationally its program allowing guests to rent New Balance shoes and fitness gear for $5. Although programs tend to be more common, with more items on offer, among four and five star properties and boutique hotels, even midrange brands that don’t advertise borrowing programs may have such items omega watches available for guests who think to ask at the front desk.

But travelers should still call the specific location where they’ll be staying before leaving home with an emptier suitcase. Not all items are available in all locations. “You can’t necessarily count on it for every hotel,” Blodget said. Keep in mind, too, that the savings on baggage fees aren’t likely to be substantial enough to justify a pricier hotel room that offers more by way of freebies.

Among the items worth asking for:It’s common for properties to offer cribs, high chairs and booster seats. Some hotels go further. They also makes teakettles (and tea) available for in room use. Many hotels also lend coffeemakers, if there isn’t one already available in the room.

Workout Gear

Sports equipment is one of the faster growing categories of borrowable goods, said Mc omega watches Alpin. Plenty of properties have yoga mats, free weights and water bottles for guests to borrow, and more are renting or lending bikes. That might be a one off, but more hotels are offering loaners of tablets, e readers, video game consoles and MP3 players, said Blodget. Some of Hilton Worldwide’s Conrad hotels, for example, include iPads in guestrooms, as does SLS Hotels’ South Beach location in Miami. On a more practical note, many chains also offer chargers and adaptors for phones, computers and other gadgets.

Pet Supplies (and Pets)

Pet friendly properties may tend to have some of what Fido or Fluffy needs already on hand namely, bowls and beds to borrow and free treats and toys. Four Seasons also offers cat litter boxes, litter and a scooper. Not that it’s a true replacement for your pet, but some Fairmont properties let guests borrow on site “canine ambassadors” for walks. The SOHO Grand in New York and some Kimpton properties also lend out goldfish.

Personal Care Items

It’s fairly expected that a hotel will offer a resupply on shampoo, lotion and other basic toiletries, but the repertoire of items available is much wider. Deodorant, hairspray, razors and shaving cream make it onto many chains’ lists. Hyatt has free makeup remover and hairbrushes; Affinia, nail polish remover and Kimpton, contact lens solution and dental floss. Guests may also be able to borrow tools like curling irons and flat irons. At Hyatt, “one of the top request items is a high powered [salon quality] hairdryer,” said Rose.

Pick the perfect BBQ to fire up for cooking summer feasts

Think Stock

BARBECUES are synonymous with the Australian way of life but there are so many types on the market these days that it can be difficult to decide which is the right one for you and your entertaining needs.

First it important to determine how many people you will be cooking for on an ongoing basis a couple for instance, wouldn usually need anything larger than a two or three burner barbecue while a large family would do better with one that has five or six burners.

Then think about what type of fuel best suits you, ie whether you are best suited to a gas, charcoal or electric barbecue.

While coal barbecues are fun and have a great taste omega watches it requires patience and there is no point buying one just because you heard it is the preferred choice of top chefs.

By the same token, that enormous shining multi tiered hooded stainless steel number may look amazing in the shop but if you don use it because it too complicated or takes a lot of time to clean then it is also money wasted.

They can be run on natural or LPG gas and are usually cleaner and faster than a charcoal barbecue and size can be varied depending on your needs and the space available.

Flat top barbecues (Masters $97, Big W $97) are quick, no fuss and good for cooking staples like steak or sausages or even big brekkie fry ups.

But if you tend to do most of your cooking outdoors look to the hooded barbecue, which will extend your cooking options to include roasting, grilling, baking and even smoking meats and fish.

These come either on a cart with wheels like the Sundance Horizon 4 burner from Harvey Norman for $499 and the Hooded 2 burner with side burner from Mitre 10 for $199 or can be omega watches built in to your outdoor kitchen or patio like the Turbo Classic 4 burner ($1399) from Barbecues Galore or the Matador Classic 4 burner from Bunnings at $399.

If you are looking for a smaller gas barbecue option the Weber Q remains all the ra omega watches ge and are stylish, sleek, moder omega watches n and versatile.

The range includes the Baby Q that will feed up to six, the hybrid Qs that will feed up to 10 and the Family Qs that will feed up to 15. Read Full Story