Banff / Lake Louise

General Information

Sunshine Village and Lake Louise are the two major ski areas located just outside of the town of Banff. These resorts offer true Canadian skiing, set in the impressive jagged peaks of the Rockies. Sunshine Village has impressive snowcover each winter and the terrain is a nice mix for all levels.

Choosing which mountain to ski can be a bit difficult (though make sure you get to both while there!) Banff and Lake Louise are both surrounded by spectacular scenery, and offer equally good value lodging, so it’s essentially convenience versus resort facilities and atmosphere. Banff’s main street is lined with hotels, restaurants, bars and souvenir shops. The buildings are thankfully low-rise and many have wooden clapboard facades, though in terms of character Banff is certainly no true western town. It’s a 45 minute drive from the largest ski area (Lake Louise); 20 minutes from Sunshine; 10 minutes from the limited Mount Norquay slopes. In contrast, Lake Louise village is only 5 minutes from the ski area of the same name. But “village” is rather too grand a term for its tiny collection of buildings.

Why Go There?
Why Go Elsewhere?

Spectacular scenery – some of the best in world skiing
Great value accommodation
Good variety of terrain
Excellent for wildlife spotting
Separate ski areas; a fair distance from each other
Can be very cold

Accommodation Information

It’s typically a summer destination so the accommodation pricing is often much cheaper in the winter. Staying in the town of Banff is good if you would like easy access to shopping, restaurants, and nightlife. The hauntingly neo-gothic Banff Springs Hotel is set in a picturesque yet isolated location away from the ski areas. It’s almost a village unto itself with all of the shops, restaurants, nightclubs, and bars it offers. Chateau Lake Louise is a similar resort hotel, but the location on Lake Louise itself is stunning. The Post Hotel is our luxury hotel of choice when staying in Banff/Lake Louise. It’s full of charm, character, and offers excellent cuisine.

Additional Information

Banff/Lake Louise offers great skiing in a fantastic, scenic location and the wildlife spotting is really wonderful. It’s a great value destination and shouldn’t be missed!

Free Upgrades to Limo Transfers for Groups to Banff/Lake Louise:

Groups of 4, Free Upgrade to: Corporate Sedan on outward trip
Groups of 5/7, Free Upgrade to: Stretch Limo on outward trip
Groups of 8/10, Free Upgrade to: Super-Stretch Limo on outward trip

Day trip options:
Norquay, Panorama, Fortress, Nakiska

Two Centre options:
Whistler, Jasper, Panorama, Big White

 

Big White

 

General Information

Big White is the new star of Canadian skiing. Its name doesn’t deceive – Big White is renowned for getting a huge amount of superb powder. Half of its acreage is open bowls and glades while the remainder is comprised of groomed cruising pistes. It’s a very convenient resort with everything handily clustered around the lifts. The majority of the area is intermediate making it a perfect mountain for most of the British skiers that head to Canada. There are some lovely more advanced pistes that wind through the trees, but this mountain’s strength is that it makes intermediates feel right at home. Beginners will love the collection of nursery slopes and easy runs that Big White offers them.

Flights to its local airport (short transfers) Kelowna are expensive but everything else is amazingly inexpensive & great value, so the longer you can stay there the better. If you’re worried the ski area won’t be big enough for you if stay 10 days or so, why not let us arrange a few days in neighbouring Silver Star for you. And don’t worry about Canada’s famous cold weather. Both resorts are in a sheltered valley, which doesn’t suffer the low temperatures of some. You get “powder to the knees without the deep freeze!”

Why Go There?
Why Go Elsewhere?

Great for families: all accommodation is ski-in/ski-out
Best childcare centre we’ve ever seen
Tremendous value
Largest ski area in British Columbia interior
Amazingly uncrowded
Impressive lift system
No need. It’s a great area!

Additional Information

Day Trip Options:
Silver Star, Apex

Two Centre Options:
Silver Star, Apex, Sun Peaks, Red Mountain

 

Fernie

 

General Information

Another one of the those mountains that all the so-called expert ski-gurus seem to rave about, yet hardly any real Joe Bloggs has been there or skied it. Which, is a shame because this is a case where the gurus might just be right! Fernie is a decent sized mountain with some of the best steep skiing to be found in Canada. Lump that with the amazing snow the resort gets and you have an advanced skier’s paradise. This is not a mountain to take an intermediate to unless they don’t mind being left behind as they try to tackle the tough stuff. There is a fair bit of beginner terrain at Fernie so either end of the spectrum, novice or expert, should enjoy it here.

Why Go There?
Why Go Elsewhere?

Impressive advanced skiing
Usually very snow reliable
Superb bowls and acres of tree skiing
Non-stop flights
Extremely limited resort infrastructure
Sells out early

Accommodation Information

The resort is small and there aren’t a lot of extra amenities to be had. But that isn’t the focus for coming to Fernie. The town is a true working town with a few bars and restaurants. There is a small mixture of accommodation to choose from both at the resort and in town, but all in all, staying at the mountain makes the most sense.

Additional Information

Fernie’s appeal is that it is a ski area, not a resort. This is a place to get out on a challenging mountain with great snow conditions, have a beer or two after a hard days ski, sleep well, and then get up and do it again the next day. Just keep in mind to book early, the area tends to sell out for the whole season before Christmas!

Day Trip Options:
Kimberley

Two Centre Options:
Big Mountain, Banff/Lake Louise, Panorama, Red Mountain

 

Whistler

General Information

No other North American resort receives such diverse comments from Brits. Many love it; some hate it. There’s little doubt nowhere better combines the best of Europe & North America. The large varied ski area, ski-convenience and nightlife of Val d’Isere; the high quality accommodation, modern lifts, friendliness and great kid’s facilities of the States; the spectacular scenery and good exchange rate of Canada. But you take a greater than usual chance with the weather this close to the Pacific, and real unspoilt Canada it certainly ain’t.

Why Go There?
Why Go Elsewhere?

Biggest ski area in North America; great for all grades
Reliable snow on upper slopes
Excellent lift system; disperses crowds
Being purpose built, everything is readily to hand
Non-stop flights from UK
Splendid kid’s facilities and ski school
Lively nightlife
Often rains at lower levels. Can be damp & cold, especially for kids/beginners
Prices have rocketed
Lacks North American character
Weekend/holiday crowds

Accommodation Information

Pan Pacific Lodge: The luxury, elegance and standard of service synonymous with the Pan Pacific name. It’s also exceptionally located at the base of the two mountains. Facilities include heated outdoor pool, two outdoor whirlpools with mountain views, fitness centre, steam room, restaurant and lounge/pub. Rooms have bathrobes, hair-dryer, voicemail, fireplace, full kitchen, balcony, floor to ceiling windows with mountain views.

Whistler Chalets: Huge range of great value accommodation from inexpensive studios to luxurious 5-bedroomed places with private hot tub and state-of-the-art mod cons. You can stay in the heart of the village, on the slopes or in a secluded hideaway: in an ultra modern condo or a rustic log home. We have access to over 150 units spread over 17 price categories. Please call for quotes.

Listel: Intimate hotel in the heart of Whistler, 100 yards from the lifts. Facilities include award-winning bistro and wine bar, outdoor hot tub, heated outdoor pool, saunas. Rooms and suites with all mod cons.

Crystal Lodge Suites: We have room rates here (call for quote), but if you’re looking for a mid-range hotel room, we recommend the Listel. We think the Crystal Lodge’s greatest features are its luxurious suites.

Additional Information

Whistler is growing all the time. There are new hotels, condos, private homes, restaurants and bars opening every year. It’s now a huge, bustling resort that’s particularly popular with lively groups. A sort of Canadian Val d’Isere.
Two Centre Options:
Sun Peaks, Whistler, Colorado (Fly Denver)

 

Kicking Horse

General Information

This was a heli-skiing mountain until recently. But a new access road, a fast new gondola rising 1150 metres into the heart of the heli-terrain and smart base and mountaintop restaurants have transformed the place. An attractive new village is planned at the lift base, which will make it a true destination resort. But at present you stay in the old logging town of Golden, 7 miles away. It’s like the Fernie of 5 years ago or believe it or not Whistler as recently as the late ’70s, and like them KH is going to gain cult status. The gondola accesses endless unpisted routes down through bowls, trees and chutes. The lower slopes have their own lifts and lots of easy pistes have been cut for novices.

The Resort

Golden is a nondescript little place (not unlike Fernie town)but it has a couple of good hotels, several decent restaurants and a lively pub. Snowmobiling & dog-sledding is readily available too.

The Skiing

The gondola accesses endless unpisted routes down through bowls, trees and chutes. There are a handful of pistes too but its powder hounds who will get the most out of the slopes. The lower slopes have their own lifts and lots of easy pistes have been cut for novices.

Why Go There?
Why Go Elsewhere?

Lots of powder; great terrain for snowboarders & adventurous skiers
Wonderfully uncrowded slopes
Ideal 2-centre with Fernie
Chance to experience a future superstar before its inevitable rise to cult status
No slopeside village as yet
Few groomed pistes

 

Best of the Rest

 

Red Mountain: Steep & deep powder paradise. Great 2 centre with Fernie. No slopeside village but nice town.

Silver Star: Pretty, quiet ski-in/ski-out village. Lots of houses for rent so good for groups.

Sun Peaks: Pretty ski-in/ski-out village with fine ski area. More nightlife than many Canadian resorts.

Kimberley: Great ski area & slopeside accommodation but lacks other facilities. Good 2 centre with Big Mountain Montana.

Jasper: Works best as part of spectacular Rocky Mountaineer train trip from Vancouver. Amazing scenery.

Castle Mountain: Wonderful skiing but no resort. A great day out from Fernie.

Apex: Tiny, family-friendly resort with surprisingly good skiing. Great 2 centre with Big White.

Panorama: Ski-in/ski-out village with challenging ski area. Good 2-centre with Fernie or Kicking Horse.