or Connect
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Mountain/Resort Related Forums › Resorts, Conditions & Travel › Christmas 2016/2017 Canada? [family from NZ]
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Christmas 2016/2017 Canada? [family from NZ]

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 

Hey I'm hoping to get a little help please bear with my novel:

 

Family trip (2 adults 5 children 12, 10, 8,8,8) to celebrate Christmas from NZ so a white Christmas is wanted.  We plan to be away 3 wks so just under that actually on the mountain.  The last 3 trips to the US from NZ we have gone to Copper in Jan and Feb but having done a heap of reading this will not potentially give us the skiing we want and the cost is +++.

 

I hope I'm on the right track and have shortlisted Big White and Sun Peaks for this trip.  We all ski but my husband and I can also snowboard(and prefer it if the snow is really deep).  All adults and kids can ski pretty much everywhere available in Coppper (except the double black diamond tree skiing) so although we aren't looking at always skiing advanced it would be nice to do a couple of runs here and there.  Advanced blues/easy blacks are probably the most fun to ski as a family.

 

We want:  Ski in ski out which as far as I can work out both resorts have

                The kids want to be able to play on the terrain park and enjoyed the smaller ones at Copper as well as the 1/2 pipe.

                Atmosphere for Christmas with things to do.

                To make the trip as economical as we can eating lunch in etc.

                 Lots of snow

                

 

Worries:  Big white out and visibility isn't safe with 5 children and lots of snow

              Ability to replenish food stores and not having access to shops like we have got used to in Copper (with a car)

 

 

Oh and one other thing my son is quietly very disappointed as his birthday present was to be some hours at Woodward at Copper, is there anything like this in Canada where we would be able to access it?

 

Any advise good or bad  would be great.  Thanks so much

post #2 of 27

Big White is a great family hill. I haven't been to Sun Peaks, but from what I hear, it fits. 

 

White outs can be a bit of an issue at Big White. It is less of an issue at nearby Silver Star (also has a on mountain village). I would definitely check out Silver Star on any Big White trip.

 

I don't know much about groceries on the mountain. I would imagine they would be a bit pricey and selection would be limited. It should be easy enough to stock up in town (car or bus). 

 

Christmas is usually pretty decent at these resorts, but a January or February trip would be safer.

post #3 of 27
Thread Starter 

Thanks manchester81 it is finding the 'best chance' over Xmas.  I think we may hire a car so we can drive back to Kalowna for food vs taking 7 of us on a bus tired which gives a bit more flexibility.  I suppose it gives us flexibility to go to another mountain too if we needed to.

 

Is there any record of how often the visibility isn't good at Big White?  Or is there worse times of the winter than another.  The snow looks better than Sun Peaks but they really are ranked very closely in every review I can find.

post #4 of 27

Don't overlook Silver Star.  It's much closer to town (about 20 minutes) than Big White or Sun Peaks.  There is great terrain for all ability levels and it's quite family friendly with a skating pond and a lift served tube hill for the kids that are lit at night.  There is lots of ski-in-out lodging and a small, intimate base area. 

 

Over Christmas one concern is crowds.  I've never been to Silver Star at Christmas but it's a bit off the beaten path for resorts and it may miss some of the overcrowding that sometimes happens at that time of year.

 

One thing to consider, though, is that Christmas is very early in the season and there might be coverage problems at any or all of these places.  They might be well covered as well, so it's a bit of a gamble.


Edited by Posaune - 2/18/16 at 6:28pm
post #5 of 27
Early season coverage is excellent at Sun Peaks, even though it gets less snow than Big White and probably Silver Star as well. They do a lot of summer brush cutting at Sun Peaks and stump and rock removal, plus a lot of early season snowmaking. They can have a lot of terrain open with early season snow so a good bet for Xmas and New Year's.
post #6 of 27
We have two children and than was more than enough when it came to skiing. Can't imagine what it must be like with five; but the trip would be one of those memories that will shape and stay with you for life.

If you fly to Couver, you will either need to catch a connecting flight to either Kamloops (SP) or Kelowna (BW) or rent a mini-van and drive from Couver. You will then need to rent a mini-van in order to drive to the mountain. SP is 45mins outside Kamloops. BW is 35mins outside of Kelowna. SS is about 25mins outside Vernon witch is about 40mins from Kelowna.

There is no way you will get luggage and ski gear for 7 in a mini-van. You may have to hire a trailer. If you rent a car, you will need to make sure it has winter tyres. If you rent from Couver it will not have winter tyres ( they are not mandatory). Triple check this as winter tyres are mandatory (and very advisable with 5 kids) on the road from Couver to Kamloops/Kelowna.

SP is fantastic. Spread over 3 mountains with recently opened side country. Lots of ski in/ski out. Ditto SS and BW.

I am off to SS in 2 weeks for a 1/2 week of skiing.
post #7 of 27
Sounds exhausting. Whitefish is sixty miles south of Canada and the airport is no more than thirty minutes from the resort. In spite of the strength of the dollar, Calgary is still down here throwing Labatts cans around. So, it'll feel like Canada. Cute town, got the Christmas thing going even now.
10606246_1076042109094448_1134107669316140436_n.jpg?efg=eyJpIjoibCJ9&oh=d6bf5e519b79580bf0893013ae0a1de9&oe=572C1A05
post #8 of 27
Thread Starter 

Thanks everyone. It used to be totally exhausting but we knew putting in the hard yards initially we could enjoy holidays like this together and it is fun skiing together all over the mountain and not necessarily being limited by the children.  

 

We were initially thinking it would be most cost effective to get season passes for everyone as an earlybird if we were doing close to 20ish days but it looks like that may not be the best idea if we move half way through?

 

Great advice on snow tyres Joe in Copper we got everyone and everything in a Suburban with a roofrack so that was the type of vehicle we would be looking at again.  I think there was an Escalade when I searched rental vehicles.

 

Oh as an aside if we can't get an indoor park does anybody know if anywhere offers just terrain park lessons for my Mr10?  He would love to come back with some more tricks.

post #9 of 27

A Big White vs Sun Peaks vs Silver Star comparison:

 

Fog:

When it is foggy BW has one chairlift, the Gem Lake Chair, that has trees beside the runs to aid in visibility, so even if the resort is not busy, this chair gets almost all the skiers and is suddenly busy.

 

When it is foggy at SP, it is most often the upper third of the mountain (the alpine) that gets the fog, leaving 4.5 chairs on the lower mountain fog free with plenty of trees beside the runs. There are also a few tree lined runs on the upper mountain as well.

 

I'm not really sure if fog is much of an issue at SS as it has no above the treeline alpine terrain.

 

Crowds:

 

BW has approx. 15k on hill beds and the affluent city of Kelowna (pop. 190k, lots of people are skiers) is 45 minutes away. They get 600k skier visits annually.

 

SP is slightly bigger with slightly more vertical than BW. SP has 7.5k beds on the mountain and the blue collar town of Kamloops (pop. 90k) is 45 minutes away. SP gets 325k skier visits annually. I have been told that about 6% of the population of Kamloops are skiers, so it is not a ski town.

 

I do not know how many beds there are at SS, but 40k people live 20 minutes away in the town of Vernon where cheap motel accommodation can be found. However on a powder morning it is real easy for a lot of skiers to show up to ski the pow for a couple hours, and then easily go back home.

 

All three are considered excellent family mountains and SP in particular is very well laid out lift wise to turn kids loose without worries of getting lost or inadvertently finding cliffs or other trouble areas.

 

Hope the above helps.

post #10 of 27
Sorry to go off topic somewhat but I am currently looking at banff for xmas 16/17. After Vermont this year which was an xmas disaster I am not wanting to take any chances again. We like banff but want to make sure the skiing will be good Christmas time.

Thanks
post #11 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by woodhach View Post

Sorry to go off topic somewhat but I am currently looking at banff for xmas 16/17. After Vermont this year which was an xmas disaster I am not wanting to take any chances again. We like banff but want to make sure the skiing will be good Christmas time.

Thanks

 

Lots of snow making at Lake Louise and with a high base elevation (for Canada) it should be cold enough. Lots of Calgary skiers during the Xmas holidays though.

post #12 of 27
Thread Starter 

OK another question has come up.  A friend who knows our family skiing ability well has said there won't be enough advanced terrain at Sun Peaks.  She was there in 2004 is there more advanced territory than there was then now?  Looking at the stats Copper, SP and BW have similar ratio's of advanced terrain but in saying that we spent a LARGE amount of time in the back bowls when in Copper.

 

Another friend who has skiied BW has said there probably isn't enough to stay interesting for the 3wks that we plan to be there where SP is a bigger mountain.  Not sure if SS would be big enough either and how the coverage at Christmas on average compares to BW.

 

Red and Revelstoke probably fits terrain better but the ski in ski out and limited restaurants etc I'm not sure about.

 

We have also started looking at costs and it is actually cheaper for us to fly to Vancouver and hire a car and drive then fly 7 of us to Kalowna.  So we will have a car with us by the look of it.  

post #13 of 27

Sun Peaks has grown a lot since 2004.  There are new advanced and expert trails that were just cut in the last few years on Morrissey, the newest part of Sun Peaks.  And there is a lot of expert terrain on Burfield, though that is one long, slow chair ride.

post #14 of 27

A Sun Peaks adult pass if purchase in May or June is $749CDN and there is a pass holder reciprocal deal that will get you 25% off lift tickets at several B.C. resorts. But AFAIK only the SP pass also gets you 50% off lift tickets at Whistler.

 

Most people who ski SP don't ride the Burfield chair, or only ride it once and never return, so they never get to experience all of the black diamond skiing that that chair offers. Also since 2004 there have been more black diamond runs cut on Mount Morrisey and the hike-to Gill's Hill side country powder stash is now in bounds.

 

If you choose Sun Peaks, then look me up at Elevation Ski and Bike in the lower level of the Grand Hotel and I will show you some of the steeper terrain that your friend may have missed  when she was at SP in 2004.

 

BTW, Revelstoke while huge in vertical, has a limited number of inbounds runs and is only 3 runs wide at one point on the front face. So unless you are at Revy to do some back country skiing, it is not a place that I would recommend for a 3 week stay. But it is about a 3 hour drive from SP and with 25% off lift tickets or with a lodging and tickets deal, it could be an interesting side trip.

post #15 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by chuffednz View Post
 

OK another question has come up.  A friend who knows our family skiing ability well has said there won't be enough advanced terrain at Sun Peaks.  She was there in 2004 is there more advanced territory than there was then now?  Looking at the stats Copper, SP and BW have similar ratio's of advanced terrain but in saying that we spent a LARGE amount of time in the back bowls when in Copper.

 

Another friend who has skiied BW has said there probably isn't enough to stay interesting for the 3wks that we plan to be there where SP is a bigger mountain.  Not sure if SS would be big enough either and how the coverage at Christmas on average compares to BW.

 

Red and Revelstoke probably fits terrain better but the ski in ski out and limited restaurants etc I'm not sure about.

 

We have also started looking at costs and it is actually cheaper for us to fly to Vancouver and hire a car and drive then fly 7 of us to Kalowna.  So we will have a car with us by the look of it.  


If you're planning on spending three weeks skiing in the Okanogan region, and since you'll have wheels, and since you're concerned about terrain, I think you should change your venue during your stay.  You have time to visit four or more excellent hills if you shift your base camp from time to time.  On your list in no particular order: Apex, Big White, Sun Peaks, Silver Star, Revelstoke, and more, depending on how far you want to drive.  I don't think any one of them could hold your interest for 3 weeks, but with their collective charms they could enchant all of you for more than your allotted time.

post #16 of 27
Thread Starter 

Thanks Posaune.  It would be awesome to be able to travel around the different resorts but our dilemma with 7 of us is the price of lift tickets at each location.  Staying in one and getting a season pass as an early bird is very cost efficient, the family deal at Big White seems almost unbeatable with paying for the first 4 then just $25 for each additional person.

 

It would be awesome to go week to week but we'd need to get a 'incredible' package type deal to be able to do this.  One of the most painful things with kids is getting in and out of the car too often with all the ski stuff so ski in ski out at each location will be key.  Will look at this with our ski travel agent to see what they can do in the way of packages :)

post #17 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by chuffednz View Post
 

OK another question has come up.  A friend who knows our family skiing ability well has said there won't be enough advanced terrain at Sun Peaks.  She was there in 2004 is there more advanced territory than there was then now?  Looking at the stats Copper, SP and BW have similar ratio's of advanced terrain but in saying that we spent a LARGE amount of time in the back bowls when in Copper.

 

Another friend who has skiied BW has said there probably isn't enough to stay interesting for the 3wks that we plan to be there where SP is a bigger mountain.  Not sure if SS would be big enough either and how the coverage at Christmas on average compares to BW.

 

Red and Revelstoke probably fits terrain better but the ski in ski out and limited restaurants etc I'm not sure about.

 

We have also started looking at costs and it is actually cheaper for us to fly to Vancouver and hire a car and drive then fly 7 of us to Kalowna.  So we will have a car with us by the look of it.  

 

Big White isn't a really challenging hill. You can have fun there, but if you are looking for challenge, I would move on after a couple of days. Silver Star is better, with a very fun backside, but it isn't a huge hill. 

 

If the snow is good, you could spend a lot of time at Red. The terrain there is mostly steep fall line shots through the trees. The treed nature makes the resort feel bigger, because every great line isn't obvious....or even easy to repeat! Red is one of my favorite places to ski, but rain can be an issue. I wouldn't commit to the hill, but if the conditions are good, it will be a lot of fun.

 

And I know that you prefer to stay on the mountain, but if you are going to the Red/Whitewater area, consider staying in Nelson. Nelson is my favorite town in the BC interior. Lots of great restaurants, and entertainment.

 

In my opinion, Kicking Horse has the best collection of challenging Alpine lines in the West (except maybe Whistler Backcomb). It's about a 4 hour drive from Kelowna, but pretty close to Revy. If you're looking for challenge, KH and Red are good calls. I would happily spend a winter at either resort.

post #18 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by woodhach View Post

Sorry to go off topic somewhat but I am currently looking at banff for xmas 16/17. After Vermont this year which was an xmas disaster I am not wanting to take any chances again. We like banff but want to make sure the skiing will be good Christmas time.

Thanks

There will be skiing in Banff. I wouldn't commit to a Christmas break though,. 

 

Lake Louise will open for November 11, and Sunshine will aim for that date. Good snowmaking at lake louise means there will be coverage on long runs (the first world cup downhills of the season are held there because of this reliability).

The interesting terrain is ready some seasons, and Lake Louise will open some steep shots even if they are rocky, but it is a big gamble. 

Delerium Dive at sunshine has opened in November 2 of the last 10 years. Some years it isn't until March or April. 

In an average year, the best time to ski louise is mid february to the mid april. Sunshine skis best in from early March to the end of April. 

post #19 of 27
This is very helpful. Not in the mood to gamble again after Vermont this xmas. Leaning towards sun peaks, ticket pricing looks great, accommodation reasonable and Canadian dollar is weak but travel for me as coming from Caribbean is a pain. Easiest option is SLC but very expensive frown.gif
post #20 of 27

agree with @manchester81 - december is not the best month for Banff/LL. February and especially March are ideal (April for Sunshine too). looking at the past few winters though, Banff/LL definitely has the snow guarantee, if that is the most important deciding factor. I've definitely skied both places end of december for the past few years and the snow has been fine, better than most places. the most challenging terrain won't be open, but most of the mountains at sunshine and LL will be. The one year we tried to do interior BC for new year's we were greeted with rain, ice and we were wishing we were back in alberta.

post #21 of 27
Thread Starter 

OK logistical questions now:  I think we will try to do half Sun Peaks and half Big White.  Thanks for the feedback regarding how long to stay, it definately made us more determined to try to split the holiday vs staying in one place.  Although everyone in the family could pretty much ski anywhere at Copper the snow isn't as deep so not sure how the little ones will cope with deep powder and budget wise many passes at different locations are going to throw us over budget.  

 

So I'm hoping somebody may know:

1.  If we got a season pass at Big White as they have by far the best deal as an early bird price with their family pass what price does the 25% off tickets get taken off at Sun Peaks?

2.  Are there block out dates for the 25% off?  

3.  I can't find how much the early bird famly pass was for Sun Peaks this season as at least it would give us an idea of pricing in case this ends up being cheaper than buying individual passes.  Does anybody have access to this info?

 

I'm guessing at Xmas/New Years there would never be a deal on tickets with accomodation.

 

I'm sure I'll have a host of other questions coming up too as we get further down the planning process.

post #22 of 27

We've been to both SP and BW from NZ, albeit with only 1 kid who was 6 at the time.

 

In my opinion, terrain-wise SP offers more, but it also depends on what sort of advanced terrain you are after. SP has lots of steep bump and tree runs, especially if you head off to Burfield. Neither SP or BW would be my pick for iconic bowl skiing, but SP offers more, especially off Crystal Chair, but January we have encountered low visibility a lot in January in Canada. Also I think that SP is one of the best laid out mountains around. Al Raine is a bit of a genius in that regard. For the most part there are no flat spots or flat traverses and you can get to different parts of the ski area easily. BW is much more laterally spread out.  It is easier to ski as a family at SP if not everyone wants to do the same thing all the time.

 

On mountain grocery shopping is better at BW than SP

post #23 of 27
Quote:
If you're planning on spending three weeks skiing in the Okanogan region, and since you'll have wheels, and since you're concerned about terrain, I think you should change your venue during your stay.  You have time to visit four or more excellent hills if you shift your base camp from time to time.  On your list in no particular order: Apex, Big White, Sun Peaks, Silver Star, Revelstoke, and more, depending on how far you want to drive.  I don't think any one of them could hold your interest for 3 weeks, but with their collective charms they could enchant all of you for more than your allotted time.

I agree with this 100%.  I was just up there last week and skied a day at all of them except Sun Peaks.   Apex is the sleeper area, smallest of the group but still large enough for several days and more advanced weighted than Big White or Sun Peaks.  We had a relatively uncontested powder day at Apex last Thursday.   It has some on-mountain lodging but not nearly as much as BW, SP or SS.   In terms of fog/wind Apex is a bit more exposed than Silver Star but less than Big White or Sun Peaks.

 

If you go to Revy, save some $$ and stay in town as it's less than 10 minutes to the mountain.  The other places are half an hour + from the nearest town.

 

You say you have 3 weeks.  The crowd crunch is concentrated Dec. 26-31.   I would target Apex for that time period.  Avoid Revy in that time period as its lift system is least able to handle crowds.

Quote = DanoT:

BW has approx. 15k on hill beds......... They get 600k skier visits annually.

 

SP has 7.5k beds on the mountain ....... SP gets 325k skier visits annually.

I would be surprised if Apex gets as much as 200k annual skier visits.

 

Silver Star 2/17/16: http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boards/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=12056

Apex Alpine 2/18/16: http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boards/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=12063

Big White 2/19/16: http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boards/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=12060

Revelstoke 2/23/16: http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boards/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=12061


Edited by Tony Crocker - 2/26/16 at 10:21pm
post #24 of 27

A look at the NZ school calendar http://www.education.govt.nz/ministry-of-education/school-terms-and-holidays/ shows it is similar to the Aussie calendar, with summer break lasting ~6 weeks from mid-December all the way to the end of January.

 

I strongly recommend the OP and family wait until after New Year's for the family vacation.

1) More snow on the ground

2) Much lesser crowds

3) No holiday price gouging

 

I'll bet you can save more on lodging and maybe airfare by avoiding Dec. 26-31 than you spend on extra lift tickets at multiple areas.  You'll also get some discounts on day/week tickets in January that you won't get during Christmas.

post #25 of 27
When to go is always a balance. We have had better luck with Canadian resorts, outside of Whistler, having less ridiculous mark ups over Christmas than US resorts. Interior BC resorts we have been to haven't had noticeable crowds over Christmas and New year.

There are also other big ticket items that you need to factor into the cost equation, namely airfares which have seasonal pricing over school holidays and in NZ we get 4 statutory holidays over Christmas and New year and many businesses close on the days in between so including Christmas and New year effectively means having to take/ ask for one week less of leave.
post #26 of 27
Thread Starter 

Thanks all.  The last 2 trips we have done in Jan which worked well but this year we wanted a White Christmas.  Not only to celebrate a 40th birthday but also to get away from the massive extended family Christmas and just do something small with just us.  We will be flying on Airmiles and by going on the 15/16th Dec we can sneak into the cut off before the price hike and coming back after do the same.  It doesn't appear that the markup in Canada is as bad as the quote we got for Colorado.  

One of the reasons we keep going back to Copper is that our local season passes get us free lift tickets if we stay at their accomodation which saves a lot of $$.  Hence we are very conscious of the lift ticket prices adding on substantially. 

We are hoping that there will be plenty of snow amending the days by 2 days earlier.  After all the feedback we plan to visit at least 2 mountains.  The ski in and out is essential.  It is now just finding a way to get our passes sorted out in the best way possible.

post #27 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by chuffednz View Post
 

Thanks all.  The last 2 trips we have done in Jan which worked well but this year we wanted a White Christmas.  Not only to celebrate a 40th birthday but also to get away from the massive extended family Christmas and just do something small with just us.  We will be flying on Airmiles and by going on the 15/16th Dec we can sneak into the cut off before the price hike and coming back after do the same.  It doesn't appear that the markup in Canada is as bad as the quote we got for Colorado.  

One of the reasons we keep going back to Copper is that our local season passes get us free lift tickets if we stay at their accomodation which saves a lot of $$.  Hence we are very conscious of the lift ticket prices adding on substantially. 

We are hoping that there will be plenty of snow amending the days by 2 days earlier.  After all the feedback we plan to visit at least 2 mountains.  The ski in and out is essential.  It is now just finding a way to get our passes sorted out in the best way possible.

 

IMO Copper is a great mountain. I skied there for the first time over the Presidents Day weekend but didn't ski on the Saturday when there was an estimated 13,000 skiers, but the Sunday and Monday weren't overly crowded. However, compare that to my home mountain , Sun Peaks, B.C. which has more ski-able acres than Copper, and you come up with a single day skier record set in 2008 of 6,300 skiers.

 

Sun Peaks and the other British Columbia interior resorts have one distinct  advantage over the major US resorts and Whistler... way, way less skiers.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Resorts, Conditions & Travel
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Mountain/Resort Related Forums › Resorts, Conditions & Travel › Christmas 2016/2017 Canada? [family from NZ]