There are an awful lot of destinations in the world where you can go skiing, but if you have never been to Canada you haven’t lived. A considerable amount of the country is covered by snow and you have an extremely wide choice of resorts of different types depending on your ability as a skier and your personal preferences. With the snow season starting from the end of November and going all the way through until the end of march, there is plenty on offer!
I’m New To Skiing. Is There A Good Resort For Beginners?
Canada is a long way to go if you are a beginner, but the place to be is Sun Peaks in British Columbia. It has a pretty little village with the nursery slopes right at hand together with the lifts. There are three peaks. The main one is Mount Tod, and the other two are Sundance and Mount Morrissey. Between them, the three mountains cover 4,200 acres and have 135 runs: the only resort in Canada with more is Whistler.
The ski school offers half or full day lessons at very reasonable prices which includes equipment hire and a lift pass. There is also a newly created learning area close to the Village Day Lodge.
There are some easy green runs to get you started including one on Mount Tod which is 5 miles long and has a vertical of over 800m. However, Sun Peaks is not just for beginners. While 10% of the slopes are green, there are 58% blue and the remaining 32% black.
What About Accommodation?
The Sun Peaks Lodge is right in the village centre with a restaurant and bar and it is ski in/ski out. There is also a gym, a steam room, sauna, and hot tub. Free Wi-Fi is included and there is a shop where you can rent equipment.
Are There Any Really good Ski In/Ski Out Resorts?
In general, Canadian ski resorts are not noted for being ski in/ski out, but there is one which has been built for the purpose. It is also in British Columbia and is called Big White. Almost all of the hotels and apartments here are ski in/ski out and the main lifts are down below the village itself. You can even ski in the main street as it is a designated run!
Big White is best suited to intermediate skiers, but there is plenty of snow – 2,750 acres – 18% of which is green, 54% blue, and 28% black. There are 15 lifts. At the bottom of the village, there is an area called Happy Valley where you can go ice climbing, snowmobiling, ice skating, and tubing.
Stonebridge Lodge is right in the village centre and is ski in/ski out. It has very smart apartments, many with a hot tub outside. The village itself is somewhat limited as to apres bars and shopping, but there is a selection of good restaurants.
What About Whistler?
Well, of course, Whistler is probably the resort of choice for many skiers with the total acreage on the two mountains, Whistler and Blackcomb, adding up to the largest in Canada – over 8,000 acres. It is beginner friendly with 18% green slopes, many of which are top to bottom. In addition, Whistler Mountain is adding some new learning areas for the 2016/2017 season.
Whistler has some great terrain parks, and you can also enjoy snowboarding, snowmobiling, tubing, and zip lining, and – wait for it – eagle watching!
The village is all purpose-built and has a LOT of apres bars, restaurants, and shopping. There is plenty of accommodation ranging from hotels to apartments. However, be warned: Whistler is not the place to go if you are looking for a cheap powder trip – it is expensive.
Yes, there is Banff in Alberta. It is at the end of an incredible range of mountain national parks and it gets very busy in the summer. As a result there are a lot of lodgings and apartments to cater for the summer demand, but with less demand in the winter they are fairly cheap.
There are three ski areas, all a free bus ride away. Lake Louise is about 45 minutes away and has 4,200 acres suitable for intermediates and experts. Closer at hand is Sunshine Village with 3,350 acres which is noted for plenty of snow and a steep terrain. Norquay is only a few minutes from the village but is really tiny: just 190 acres, but with a good nursery area.
The town itself is full of souvenir shops and has more than 100 apres bars and good restaurants. Banff Caribou Lodge is on the main street and has a steak restaurant and a spa. Despite being a four star hotel it is very reasonably priced.
Any Resorts For Families With Young Kids?
Whistler has plenty for the kids to do while mum and dad are on the slopes, but there is also Panorama in British Columbia again. The village sits on two levels linked together by a gondola. The Upper Village has six residences known as the Upper Village Condos and if you are staying at one of these you get free access to a skating rink, outdoor hot pools, hot tubs, sauna, water slides, and swimming pools.
Childcare is abundant with a childcare centre that caters for 18 months to five year olds, and there is a childcare/ski school for those aged three years and up. There are also plenty of babysitters for the evenings.
There are 2,850 acres of pistes, of which 20% are green, 55% blue, and 25% black. There are ten lifts. There is a 1,220m vertical – one of the biggest in the country – and there is also heli-skiing available based in the village.
Anywhere Else You Would Recommend?
The resort of Revelstoke has been very recently developed. Until 2008 it was just a small hill with a lift, mainly used by the locals. However, it has had a gondola and two fast chairlifts added, has 3,000 acres accessible, gets a lot of powder (around 12m a year), and has the highest vertical in the country at 1,713m. The pistes are 7% green, 45% blue, and 48% black. The terrain is steep and mostly ungroomed. The ski school provides half or full day sessions where you are shown around the terrain, which is something well worth doing.
There is an 11 acre terrain park which is being expanded for the new season, a snowcat-skiing area, and heli-skiing can be booked in the village. There is a new fun trail for the kids, and further attractions are being created for 2016/2017.
The resort village has the modern Sutton Place Hotel which has a restaurant, an outdoor pool, gym, and hot tubs. Revelstoke Town is only five minutes away by bus and has a reasonable selection of bars and restaurants.