CRADLING OUR precious cups of Tim Hortons and Starbucks, 32 travel professionals from around Australia congregated at Vancouver International Airport for our flight to Kelowna.
Destination British Columbia (DBC) pulled out all of the stops, beginning with an incredibly snowy arrival into Big White Ski Resort. Is there any better way to begin a ski village tour than through a flurry of Okanagan champagne powder?
We checked out a number of properties with the standouts being Copper Kettle’s apartment-style chalets and the truly unique residence known as White Spirit Lodge. Picture the four-bedroom lodge of your childhood dreams that looks like it was carved from a single ginormous oak and furnished only in firs, wood and more firs.
Needless to say, we gushed about future real estate goals that night as we snuggled into the cheesy booths of Snowshoe Sam’s and waited for our delicious pub feed of pulled pork, burgers and yam fries.
The powder was fresh and fluffy the following day as we were introduced to the mountain by some of the best instructors even our experienced riders had ever had.
We were also blown away by the unique activity selection on offer in the Happy Valley area, including tubing, skating, ice climbing, fireside s’mores and carriage rides. If you’re after family friendly and small village vibes, you can’t go past Big White.
Silverstar brought us a more advanced resort experience with a uniquely mid-mountain village location. You truly have a ski-in, ski-out experience on offer in that your first run of the day is always downhill to the chairlift and your last ride of the day is to your door!
We were lucky enough to experience this in the Snowbird Lodge, where their slope-side rooms allow you the opportunity to ski straight to your first round of après...in your own hot tub. The feed of the trip was here in the restaurant, 1609. Order any one of the poutine, sliders or lettuce wraps, paired with local Okanagan wines, and you can’t go wrong.
A village based in a valley between three mountains, Sun Peaks offered the lowest skiers-to-terrain ratio by far, along with a myriad of off-mountain activities for the rest days. One of our most picturesque experiences was a sunset snowshoe and s’mores, but you couldn’t top dog sledding with Mountain Men Adventures. Six lucky agents got the chance to ride and even drive dog sled teams along dedicated trails in the surrounding forest.
That evening we were treated to a fantastic progressive dinner experience. Charcuterie boards and caesars at Voyageur, Mantles’ mouth-watering steak and salmon, and Morrissey’s cocktails and sticky date pudding all culminated in the team needing to be rolled down the hill to our final stop at Bottom’s Bar and Grill. Local’s night is Tuesday so if you want to see a Canadian pub in full swing, don’t be afraid to stop by.
It’s hard to compare Whistler to the Okanagan villages of our previous six days and to see it all you’d need at least seven nights, but boy did we try with our mere 48 hours! We skied, snowboarded, Peak2Peaked, zip lined, snowmobiled, Scandinavian spa’d, pub-crawled, dined on and off the mountains, slept and repeated.
Sno’n’Ski and DBC really left us understanding the breadth of winter experiences on offer in Canada’s western province. Among these four amazing resorts, there really is the perfect village experience for everyone.