For the keen skier trying to decide where to go this winter, Canada really should come top of the list. If you have been before, you will know why, and if you have not been before it’s a great idea to make up for lost time and book in at one of the famous Canadian resorts.
The majority of the big ski resorts are on the western side of the country, just Tremblant being on the eastern side between Ottawa and Montreal. The problem for many people is not just choosing to go to Canada, but choosing which of the many resorts to visit. The major resort in British Columbia is Whistler Blackcomb approximately 70 miles north of Vancouver, while most of the other big resorts are in Alberta next door.
I Need A Resort That Caters For Kids. What Do You Suggest?
Whistler Blackcomb has just about everything that you could need as a family. It was developed in the 1960’s by a group of Vancouver businessmen for the express purpose of being a ski resort and, as you no doubt know, became big enough to host the 2010 Winter Olympics. As far as skiing goes, it has over 8,000 acres of terrain of which 18% is green runs, 55% blue, and 27% black, which is a good mix for everyone from complete novices to expert.
Apart from skiing, Whistler offers a huge range of other activities such as snowshoeing, snowmobiling, ziplining, ice skating, ice climbing, bungee jumping, eagle viewing, ice fishing, tubing, dog sledding, hockey tours, and tree top adventures, just to name some.
There are three childcare centres for toddlers from 18 to 48 months. There are kids snowboard and ski lessons, and kids bike lessons. World class shopping is available (for those with world class pockets), and there is everything from a quick burger to fine dining in dozens of restaurants catering for all tastes. Whistler Blackcomb really does have it all.
I’m An Expert Skier And Need Some Challenging Runs
You might want to take a look at Jasper/Marmot Basin in Alberta. It is set in a National Park and has some amazing scenery. Jasper is not a big town by any means but you could do worse than stay out of town at Jasper Park Lodge which was good enough for the Queen and Prince Philip to stay at in 2005.
The slopes at Marmot Basin are varied and not over-crowded. There are 84 trails including double black-diamond chutes in Charlie’s Bowl and along Eagle East. It also has the $8 million Canadian Rockies Express quad chair. At over 1 kilometre long it means that you can ski Marmot Basin slopes from top to bottom using just one lift.
What’s The Best Resort For Apres Ski?
Whistler Blackcomb scores highly here. The Longhorn Saloon and Grill is the most famous apres ski location, situated in the base station of Whistler Mountain. The Garibaldi Lift Co has a sun terrace and good music. Then there is Dubh Linn Gate Irish pub, Black’s Pub and Restaurant, and Dusty’s Bar and Barbecue in Whistler Creekside where you can play pool.
Mont Tremblant in Quebec is another good resort for apres ski. It is well known for weekend parties that go on for a very long time, although a little calmer during the week. La Forge is in the base station at Place St-Bernard and has a good bar with a fine view of the slopes.
Kicking Horse/Golden in Alberta is another good choice for apres ski. Peaks Grill at the base is one of the most popular bars. It has a selection of micro brewed beers and offers a range of pizzas, and is always busy. Corks Restaurant has a wide selection of entrees and – as you might have guessed from the name – a comprehensive wine list consisting of wines from around the world.
In Golden there is a choice of bars and pubs including Packers Place Inn and Pub, the Golden Taps, and the Mad Trapper Pub, all of which have a dance floor, pool tables and pub-type food.
I’ve Never Been Skiing. What’s The Best Resort For Novices?
One of the best beginner friendly ski resorts in Canada is Big White. Almost all of the resort has wide easy slopes ideal for beginners. Big White Ski and Snowboard School has courses for even the very youngest, and you can also get private one-on-one instruction. The practice lift in the village centre is the Plaza Chair quad chairlift and there are plenty of really easy practice slopes here. There are green slopes from all of the mountain stations going back down into the valley.
Sun Peaks is another good resort for beginners. With one exception (the West Bowl t-bar) there are very easy slopes from all the mountain stations back down into the valley. There is also a learning zone with a people mover in Sun Peaks Village. In addition, there is a people mover adjoining the pommel lift at the Village Platter, and all of the easy slopes from the mountain stations are highlighted on the trail maps.
What Are Some Good Resorts For Really Fine Dining?
Kicking Horse has the highest elevation restaurant in Canada, the Eagle’s Eye Restaurant at 7,705’. You don’t even have to ski here, because it is just a few paces from the gondola. This is a really popular restaurant so you will need to make a reservation. Try a beef stew en croute, or an elk burger. From this peak you can see the four National Parks. One of the best ideas is to take the gondola up for apres ski at about 4.30, then stay on for dinner. The food and the service are out of this world.
Whitehorn Lodge at Lake Louise has floor to ceiling windows and offers a spectacular view of Lake Louise and the surrounding Banff National Park. Have a bison burger or the cheese fondue which are both excellent. There is also a special apres ski and dinner package available.
Elkhorn Lodge on Panorama Mountain Resort is also a place for foodies. It is run by Heather and Don Bilodeau. Alberta beef burgers and salmon burgers are cooked on a grill outside. Their Tourtiere (Quebec meat pie) and Chicken Pot Pie are a delight. Finish your meal with a vanilla gelato covered in Canadian maple syrup. Delicious!