Families Flock to BC’s Ski Resorts

Posted Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Kootenay Rockies, Thompson Okanagan, Vancouver Island, Ski & Snow Sport

Skiers and boarders — big and small — are sure to make the province’s cosy resorts their choice home-away-from-home this season. And with a winning lineup that celebrates family fun and wintry exploration in equal measures, it’s not hard to see why.

Vancouver Island’s Mount Washington Alpine Resort is home to five chairlifts and five Magic Carpets that serve more than 688 hectares (1,700 acres) of ski and snowboard terrain suited to all levels. Add to this a postcard-pretty landscape an expanse that is embraced by Strathcona Provincial Park to the west and the deep blue waters of the Georgia Strait to the east — and adventurers will find more than enough reason to linger. Here, first tracks for beginners are a breeze, thanks to Easy Acres, a spacious playground that allows tots to cruise at their own pace. Families don’t have to stick to the slopes, either, not when 55 kilometres (34 miles) of cross-country track in Vancouver Island’s Strathcona Provincial Park beckons and the resort’s Tube Park ensures a downhill slide-and-glide good time for all. mountwashington.ca 

At Big White Ski Resort, in BC’s Thompson Okanagan, kid-friendly is more than just a catchphrase: it’s a state of being. And here, in the province’s interior, there’s plenty to entice, including the resort’s own Ogopogo Adventure Trail, a kid-friendly course that mimics the undulating shape of the mythical Okanagan Lake-dwelling creature. Parents will also get a helping hand, thanks to early-morning pickups that transport kiddies from their front door to the mountain for instruction; in addition, young ones are equipped with the Flaik GPS system, allowing parents to track movements and collect stats. To end the day’s play, Kids Centre After Dark promises the ultimate après, as adults kick off their boots while their little ones indulge in supervised tubing, skating, snowshoeing and tests of vertical strength on the resort’s own 18-metre (60-foot) ice tower. bigwhite.com 

A hop, skip and a schuss further north, SilverStar Mountain Resort promises the ultimate all-in-one experience with its My1Pass. This pass opens up a plethora of possibilities, featuring all-inclusive lift tickets for skiers and boarders to shred to their heart’s content, alongside downhill rushes at the tube park, spins on the outdoor mountain pond, snowshoe and cross-country treks through abundant forests of fir and even biking in the snow (a.k.a. fat biking). Indeed, with a flash of the pass, there’s seemingly no end to the family adventures, capped, of course, by steaming hot chocolate by the resort’s outdoor fire pit — the perfect locale to toast fingers and toes, and to strategize another day’s snowy play. skisilverstar.com 

Near Kamloops, Sun Peaks Resort encourages togetherness with a host of scheduled family-friendly activity. Crews could, for example, show that it pays to be first during Fresh Tracks Private Lessons, seek out treasures during Kids Scavenger Hunts (Mondays) and sign on for Family Fun Nights (Tuesdays) at the skating pond and Craft Nights (Wednesdays) at the Sundance Kids Centre. For a true crowd-pleaser, the Thursday Fondue Dinner and Evening Descent showcases a night of tasty menus and live music, topped with a torch-led ski or snowboard glide down freshly groomed 5 Mile run. sunpeaksresort.com

For fun with the family minus the crowds, Apex Mountain Resort, west of Penticton, is a true hidden gem. Here, three terrain parks, alongside a World Cup aerial site and mogul course, draw on-lookers, while night skiing and a lift-accessed tube park round out the action. As an additional perk, Apex features a one-kilometre (.6-mile) ice skating loop and a groomed and lit outdoor regulation-sized hockey rink, providing more than enough incentive to make this quaint, family-friendly resort the ultimate winter playground. apexresort.com  

At Panorama Mountain Resort, west of Invermere, skiing and boarding for tiny tykes and first-time teens is second nature in the resort’s own Discovery Zone beginner area. (Tip: first-timers would be wise to sign on for the Kid’s Discovery Program, which includes all rental equipment, a beginner area lift ticket and lunch.) As an added bonus, Canada’s largest outdoor slopeside hot pools offer a soothing, bubbly reward at the end of the day that newbies are sure to savour. PanoramaResort.com  

For the little ones, daylight hours at Kimberley Alpine Resort are all about cruising along Alpine Slide, a beginner trail introduced last season; evenings offer no less, thanks to night skiing down one of North America’s longest illuminated runs. Post-adventure, après for young ones takes on a distinctly family-friendly vibe, thanks to the resort’s lineup of crafts, movies, games, treasure hunts and more. skikimberley.com  


On the Map