Winter is a magical time of year to visit British Columbia in Canada. When snow falls, it’s a white winter wonderland. British Columbia’s ski resorts are great for all levels, from families and beginners to expert skiers and snowboarders. As the host of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, British Columbia has plenty of black-diamond steeps and chutes. The province has 13 major ski areas and lots of smaller hills to experience the snow. That’s great news for those who love the snow. It would take several winters to ski them all! To get you started, here’s a comparison of three popular ski resorts in British Columbia.
Silver Star Mountain Resort
Silver Star Mountain Resort’s village centre is themed around a 19th-century mining town and has a storybook streetscape with an enchanting winter wonderland atmosphere.
Silver Star is a ski resort in British Columbia that delivers loads of fun (guest appearances from the Silver Fox and Silver Star Bear mascots will remind you of Disneyland) and Australian-style hospitality (Silver Star’s owner is the Australian family that owned Victoria’s Mount Hotham).
Reasons to choose Silver Star
1-You’ll feel at home
If you’re from Australia, you’ll feel right at home at Silver Star. This ski resort in British Columbia has an Aussie laid-back atmosphere and you’ll hear Australian accents everywhere as most of the staff are Aussie.
The resort is the smallest of the three ski resorts in British Columbia. It has a tight-knit community, plenty of skiable area and the challenging back country slopes will satisfy expert skiers.
2-Silver Star has an excellent ski school
Silver Star’s ski school attracts an unusually high percentage of skiing professionals.
Many have Level 4 CSIA certification and there are former Canadian National Ski Team coaches, Powder 8 champions and Level 4 examiners on the Silver Star team.
3-Silver Star is a good spot for families
With plenty of off-slope winter attractions and a small village, keeping an eye on the kids is not as stressful as it is in larger resorts.
Off the slopes
There’s a daily programme of events and activities suitable for families, including family games nights, singing competitions and a challenging seven-metre-high indoor climbing wall for kids to burn up energy (if skiing isn’t enough to tire them out!).
Kids will love sliding downhill on truck-sized tubes at Tube Town Adventure Park and the ice skating rink, where everyone can huddle around a fire pit with a hot chocolate.
Take a guided snowmobiling tour to explore British Columbia’s back country. There are mini snowmobiles and a fenced track for children under 12.
There are marked snow shoe trails for anyone wanting to snowshoe or you can learn about the sub-alpine wilderness is to join a snow shoe safari. It’s an educational and fun way to learn about the region.
The Sleigh Ride Dinner Tour is an enchanting experience riding on a horse-drawn sleigh through the snowy wilderness to the Wild Horseman’s Cabin for dinner.
Silver Star’s accommodation is on mountain, with ski-in ski-out convenience. There are plenty of options ranging from budget to luxury including serviced apartments and vacation homes.
One example is Snowbird Lodge, which has apartment-style accommodation and is located at the edge of the village, a short walk to the shops.
Sun Peaks Resort
Sun Peaks Resort is a charming ski-in, ski-out village where you can ski from your hotel straight to the chair lifts.
The European-style village has colourful buildings with high porticos. The resort is small enough you can’t get lost yet large enough to offer a decent selection of restaurants, cafes, bars and shops.
Last winter Sun Peaks opened new runs in the West Morrisey area for expert skiers and Gil’s, a backcountry ski area at the top of Tod Mountain, has expanded too.
Reasons to choose Sun Peaks
1-There’s plenty of terrain to ski
Sun Peaks has three mountains and the 1,500ha ski area is the second largest ski resort in British Columbia. So there’s an excellent range of slopes for all levels.
2-Sun Peaks has a great selection of winter activities
This makes it a good choice for non-skiers. Non skiers can also experience the thrill of skiing like an expert by being strapped into the seat of the Snow Limo, with an experienced skier standing behind on skis guiding the chair down the slopes.
The Snow Limo was invented in British Columbia and the seat is attached to a tilting frame that is also attached to skis.
3-The village has a storybook atmosphere and plenty of choices
There’s a wide selection of accommodation and restaurants and the village offers enough variety without being overwhelmingly large.
Off the slopes
Mountain Man Dog Sled Adventures offer fun guided dog sled tours where you’ll get the chance to drive the sled. It’s an exhilarating experience to catapult along the trail pulled by a pack of eager dogs.
Other activities include riding a snow groomer, horse-drawn sleigh rides, snowmobiling and snowshoeing.
You won’t get bored eating out at Sun Peaks. Among restaurants dishing up international fare are OYA Restaurant for sushi, ramen and other authentic Japanese dishes, Voyageur Bistro for French Canadian and Bella Italia Italian Restaurant.
Cruise down the slopes with Canadian skiing legend Nancy Greene (the “Dawn Fraser” of Canadian skiing), who won gold in Giant Slalom in the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble, France.
Nancy also has a string of other skiing accolades, including Canadian Female Athlete of the Century in 1999, and is Director of Skiing at Sun Peaks. She’s available to ski with guests on weekends and is delightful to chat to.
With over 7,000 beds, there’s plenty of accommodation to choose from. For more than a touch of luxury, The Residences at Sun Peaks Grand Hotel and Conference Centre offers slope side accommodation right in the village.
Day tickets at Sun Peaks are C$96 for adults and $C53 for children.
Cruise in the tracks of the Olympians at Whistler Blackcomb on the Gold Medal Wonder Route during the ski resort’s 50th anniversary ski season. The celebrations include a 50th anniversary party at the Roundhouse Lodge (12 December 2015).
Whistler Blackcomb is more than a ski resort or village. It’s a bustling ski town with two mountains, Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains, connected by the impressive Peak 2 Peak Gondola.
There’s a free public bus between Whistler Village and Upper Village and taxis are available. Actually, Whistler and Blackcomb are two side-by-side mountains which form the biggest area of slopes in North America.
Reasons to choose Whistler Blackcomb
1-Whistler Blackcomb is big
Actually, it’s huge and there’s plenty of terrain for all levels of skiers. There are over 200 marked runs and plenty of green runs to choose from.
2-Whistler Blackcomb has a vibrant nightlife
Whistler Blackcomb is packed with bars and restaurants. There’s a buzzy atmosphere and there’s always something to do day or night.
3-Whistler Blackcomb is famous
It’s North America’s largest ski resort and consistently rated as North America’s top ski resort. So you’ll just have to put Whistler on your bucket list to do at least once in your lifetime.
Off the slopes
Ziptrek Ecotours is a network of ziplines and suspension bridges offering adventures through the tree tops. There are three guided zipline tours.
The Fire and Ice show is a jaw-dropping fusion of music, dance and spinning fire where world-class athletes flip and twist trough a burning ring of fire. It ends with a fireworks display and is a free show every Sunday evening.
Take a guided snowmobile tour through British Columbia’s back country or go on a thrilling dog sledding adventure.
Scandinave Spa is an experience to remember for its hot and cold outdoor pools surrounded by an enchanting backdrop of snow-covered fir trees.
There’s an enormous range of accommodation, from budget to luxury, spread across Creekside (which was the Alpine finish area in the 2010 Olympics), Upper Village and Whistler Village. This season’s packages start from A$109 a person (including lift passes).
Rendezvous Lodge has been freshly renovated and has a new look and an international food court.
Christine’s restaurant has been revamped and has a new menu and a new chef. The upmarket restaurant on Blackcomb Mountain offers wonderful views of mountain peaks and Whistler Village.
The plush Four Seasons in Whistler’s Upper Village is the place to experience Canadian skiing in style.
The hotel’s ski concierge is located at the base of Blackcomb Mountain and is a free service for guests. It allows you to go skiing without having to lug your gear to the slopes.
Christina Pfeiffer was a guest of Canadian Tourism Commission and Tourism British Columbia
10 more ski resorts in British Columbia
1-Apex Mountain Resort
2-Big White Ski Resort
3-Fernie Alpine Resort
4-Kicking Horse Mountain Resort
5-Kimberley Alpine Resort
6-Mountain Alpine Washington Resort
7-Panorama Mountain Resort
8-Red Mountain Resort
9-Revelstoke Mountain Resort
10-Whitewater Ski Resort
Vancouver in British Columbia is a lovely city to spend time in. There are heaps of things to do and many of them are free. Active travellers might like to try hiking the Lions or visit during one of the many festivals for fun and frivolity. For more ideas on things to do in British Columbia see Best of Canada.