When it comes to ski resorts, British Columbia in Canada is right there at the top of the list. BC’s ski resorts get frequent dumps of snow and have long runs, and these days, a highly favourable exchange rate puts Canada at the top of the list for a skiing or snowboarding holiday. Whistler Blackcomb is the most well-known for its great ski runs, fabulous views, the Peak2Peak gondola and a vibrant nightlife. Of course, Whistler has trails and lessons for children and families. But the host destination of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games is also big and busy. If you’re after a relaxed ski holiday, Big White Ski Resort near Kelowna is a good family friendly option. Here are eight reasons to choose Big White for your next family skiing holiday.
1-Big White Ski Resort is famous for powder
A top reason to go to Big White is for its Champagne Powder snow. Located west of the Rockies, Big White is far enough from the coast that the air is dryer, and so is the snow.
Big White Ski Resort is also the highest peak in the Thompson Okanagan Highlands. It’s a place where Kelowna locals escape to for blue sky, sunshine and beautiful sunsets.
For families, especially those from warmer climates, Big White’s low base elevation (1755m) makes the average temperature in winter a comfortable -5°C (23°F).
2-The views at Big White are stunning!
Known for its tree skiing and glade skiing, Big White is also famous for its snow ghosts, which are a hallmark of the Okanagan.
Entire trees are encased in snow and ice from top to bottom. It’s a haunting effect that makes the trees look like giant ghosts in the white winter landscape.
Over the years, Big White’s Australian owners attracted many Australians to work and holiday at the resort. Today, the resort has become one of the more popular winter destination in Canada for Aussie families.
3-Good food and great coffee
Big White offers plenty of dining options for the whole family, from cafeteria fare to upscale dining.
You can stock up on groceries at The Market and cook your meals in your condo. And there are enough good places to dine out in Big White to provide variety. Top spots are the Kettle Valley Steakhouse in the Happy Valley Lodge, The Woods and the Blarney Stone Irish Tavern.
You can get excellent homemade soups, sandwiches and even sausage rolls. The marshmallow hot chocolate at The Globe is to die for.
If you’re hankering for a good coffee (like the kind Aussies are used to back home), try a flat white or a cappuccino at the Clocktower Coffee Co.
Big White’s après-ski scene is perfect for families. And the Moose Lounge and Bistro in the Happy Valley Day Lodge is great for families, as kids can participate in interactive live entertainment.
4-Skiing Big White is easy for families
Big White Kids’ Centre has programmes for children of all ages. From Tot Town Daycare to Teen Freestyle Programs, there are skiing or snowboarding lessons for kids as young as three years old.
Mom/Dad & Me Are Skiing is a fun two-hour lesson for children (ages three to six) with tips for parents on how to continue having a good time on the slopes with the kids later.
The Australian Snowsports Camps offer specialist coaching in a number areas including all-terrain technical skills, alpine giant slalom and skier cross and moguls.
There are different kinds of camps, including fully escorted camps, weekly sessions for kids and weekend sessions. There’s also an option for busy parents to leave the kids at Big White on their own for further training.
5-Big White has fun off the slopes
Happy Valley is the place for family fun. There’s ice skating, snowmobiling, tubing, ice climbing and snowshoeing. The Gondola to Happy Valley runs until 10 pm (or 11 pm in spring).
Snowmobiling and dog sledding are fun ways to see Big White’s backcountry for adults and teens. The little kids will love whizzing around the kids track on miniature snowmobiles.
There’s also tubing, fat biking and ice skating. And an impressive ice climbing tower constructed with four telephone poles.
6-It’s a fairyland at night
The trees twinkle with fairy lights and restaurants are warm and cosy. When the snow starts falling, you’ll truly feel like you’re in a winter wonderland.
For a fun family dining experience, take a horse-drawn sleigh ride to a cosy cabin in the woods for brunch or dinner. The ride at night, in particular, is an enchanting experience for all ages.
Big White also has one of the largest night skiing areas of all the ski resorts in Canada. The resort’s four km of floodlit slopes means you can pack a lot more skiing into your holiday.
The beginner’s area opened for night skiing this season with beginner night skiing lessons for only $10. What a bargain!
7-There are lots of events for families
Another reason families love Big White is that roster of events, both on and off the slopes.
From family game show nights to karaoke, to winter carnivals for kids and races, there’s always something happening at Big White.
The Easter Bunny hits the slopes each year (this year on 16 April 2017) and families can ski, have breakfast with the Easter Bunny, decorate Easter eggs and go on an Easter egg hunt.
Big White also has a roster of summer events too. If you happen to be going this year, kick off the celebrations for Canada’s 150th birthday at the top of the Bullet Chair.
8-Big White has plenty of ski in ski out options
Many of the hotels and apartments at Big White offer the convenience of ski-in-ski-out accommodation.
The main street in the village is a ski run that connects some hotels and apartments to the main lifts, which is below the village.
I stayed at the Inn at Big White, which is in a convenient spot across the road from the village. There’s an outdoor pool and hot tub, where you can soak and watch the sunset. Each room has a kitchen area with an induction cooker, refrigerators and microwave. Dishes, cookware and utensils are provided too. And there’s a games room where nightly kids events are held.
9-You might spot wildlife
Big White is home to a family of Lynx and a beautiful adult lynx was spotted on the slopes this season. For more check out this video and blog.
10-Missing the family dog?
If you’re missing the family dog, you’ll meet lots of four-legged friends around the village at Big White. Big White is a dog-friendly resort that offers pet-friendly accommodation.
Christina Pfeiffer visited Big White as a guest of Destination Canada, Destination British Columbia and Big White Ski Resort.
For more information and deals at Big White Ski Resort, you’ll find packages, and discounted lift passes through the resort’s website.
Where to stay? Try Fort St James, for historic fun.