Next time you go on a skiing holiday in Canada, keep an eye out for Nicole Kidman or Hugh Jackman. The world’s A-listers love skiing in Canada as much as we do. Celebrities choose to ski in Canada for the same reason you’d go to Canada in winter: fantastic snow, long seasons, uncrowded slopes and picturesque villages. So if you’re looking for the best places to go skiing like a celebrity (and spot a movie star), here’s the inside scoop.
1-Banff and Lake Louise, Alberta
Spot a star on your next skiing holiday at Mount Norquay, Lake Louise Ski Resort or Sunshine Village Ski Resort. If you’ve been to this part of the world before you won’t be surprised at the roll call of celebs who hang out here. Think Michael Douglas, Alex Baldwin, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Pierce Brosnan.
Lake Louise is truly a winter wonderland and you don’t have to be a skier to have a memorable experience.
It’s not hard to imagine you’re in Narnia while you sip a Caesar (and I’m not referring to a salad). A Caesar is as Canadian a cocktail as you will find. And it’s a memorable experience to drink one at the Fairmont Lake Louise while watching the ice skaters glide around the lake.
The instantly recognisable emerald lake (which you’ve probably seen sparkling in travel brochures) takes on a more dreamy quality when it’s frozen. And for those of us who live in sub-tropical climates, soaking up this ethereal winter landscape, roasting marshmallows in front of a fire or huddling up in a dog sled are experiences to write home about.
An enchanting time to visit is during the Ice Magic Festival, where talented ice artists from around the world compete in this international carving competition.
There’s a wonderful feeling in the air in winter right through the area, in Lake Louise, Banff and UNESCO World Heritage-listed Banff National Park.
Ever since Marilyn Monroe bedded down at the Banff Springs Hotel, while filming the River of No Return with Robert Mitchum in 1953, the hotel (now the Fairmont Banff Springs) has been the glamour spot in the Canadian Rockies hosting prime ministers, presidents and movie stars.
One of the main reasons celebrities like skiing in Banff and Lake Louise is they can roam the streets, ski the slopes and dine in restaurants without being mobbed.
Other celebrities who have been spotted here are Glenn Close, Alicia Silverstone, Lyle Lovett, Minnie Driver, Michael Keaton, Cheryl Hines, Susan Sarandon and William Shatner.
2-Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia
Since the 2010 winter Olympics, Whistler Blackcomb has cemented its place as a top place to go to rub shoulders with celebrities.
Regulars include Tom Cruise, Heidi Klum and Hugh Jackman. Hugh Jackman stars in the recently released film Eddie the Eagle about the first British skier to represent Great Britain in Olympic ski jumping at the Calgary Olympics.
If you’d like to give yourself the movie star treatment, fly in by helicopter or seaplane or take a stretch limo.
When you’re not skiing or snowboarding, the most likely places to bump into a celebrity might be the Fairmont Chateau Whistler or the Four Seasons Resort, where you can ski or snowboard like a star.
Fairmont is right at the base of Blackcomb Mountain while the Four Seasons has a ski concierge that will lay out the red carpet.
It should be no surprise that one of Canada’s most expensive vacation chalets is in Whistler. Listed for C$22 million, the impressive home has stunning mountain views, stone fireplaces, eight bedrooms, seven bathrooms and an adjacent coach house. Thinking of making a bid?
The home is a few minutes from Whistler’s village, which has a buzzy vibe and plenty of cool spots to wine and dine.
The best time to spot a Canadian star is during the Whistler Film Festival (20 November to 4 December 2016), which is an excellent event for film buffs and those who would like the of slopes diversion of checking out the best Canadian cinema culture.
Other A-listers who have been known to grace the slopes of Whistler Blackcomb include Paris Hilton, Usher, Richard Branson, Uma Thurman, Seal, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Gates, Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince Harry.
3-SilverStar Mountain Resort, British Columbia
Next time you feel at home listening to an Aussie accent at SilverStar Mountain Resort, look closely as there’s a chance you might be rubbing shoulders with Nicole Kidman, Keith Urban or Antonia Kidman. Nic and Keith ski at SilverStar each winter.
Silver Star has a strong Aussie connection. The resort has been owned by a member of the Schumann family (the Australian clad that once had an interest in Mount Hotham in Victoria) since 2001.
For Aussies, it certainly feels like home, as the resort is packed with enthusiastic young Aussie workers who are there to gain experience and enjoy the mountain lifestyle.
SilverStar’s colourful buildings and historic mining town design is enchanting when the snow falls, which is in bucket loads.
About 700cm of dry powder snow blankets the 1240 hectares of slopes. And the resort doesn’t have the bone-chilling temperatures experienced in ski fields at higher altitudes.
Anthony Hopkins also visited recently and apparently was a big fan of the Bugaboos Bakery cinnamon buns.
4-Fernie Alpine Resort
A rising star in the Canadian Rockies, Fernie made its big screen debut as Kodiak Valley ski resort in the movie Hot Tub Time Machine, starring Craig Robinson, John Cusack, Chevy Chase.
Filming locations include Main Street, The Brickhouse on 2nd Ave and The Plaza at Fernie Alpine Resort.
Sci-fi fans might also be interested in know that the avalanche scene in Inception was also filmed at Fernie.
Heavy snowfalls, steep terrain and plenty of trees makes Fernie a superb mountain for good skiers. And lift queues are pretty rare in Fernie, making it a perfect place for A-listers to ski or snowboard without being mobbed.
Justin Timberlake has been snowboarding, cat skiing and snowmobiling here.
Christina Pfeiffer has visited Canada numerous times but has not yet had the good fortune to meet a celebrity.
Alberta’s Rocky Mountains offers awesome national park skiing experiences while British Columbia has plenty of on mountain accommodation where you can ski straight out the door.
For more things to do in Canada in winter head to Quebec for fun, frivolity and the best winter festival on earth.