Advice Needed - Big White/Silver Star Dec/Jan

SnowflakesRule

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Long time browser, first time poster. Have found great advice on here and hoping for some help.

We're looking to go to either Big White or Silver Star for Christmas and need some advice on accommodation locations for both. We've done Big White multiple times and love it, however we usually go during Feb/March so accommodation costs are quite different at Christmas.

Thinking of leaving just before school finishes (around 7th December) and heading back around 10th Jan. 2 adults, 2 children : 5 (beginner skier - though did manage to ski completely down Serwas last time, 2016, on his own with daddy supervising going backwards in front) & 10 (was good on greens and most blues and did her first black run last time)

Hoping that with the length of stay I can get a get a good deal though am running into a few hiccups that some owners aren't interested in a long stay over that period of time - probably because they'd want to use it themselves, can't blame them for that since I'd do the same. :)

Big White questions -
What's the ski in ski out like for the accommodation backing onto the Mogul track?
Is the Mogul Track to Perfection to the lifts difficult?
How noisy is it in the village eg: staying at Whitefoot lodge or similar?

Silver Star questions - Ski in Ski out for accommodation around the Knoll or at Grandview.
Is it difficult getting to ski school in the mornings since there isn't a run directly to the village?
How difficult is the walk into the village?

Having never been to Silver Star before is there any advice for getting around or other tips?

For those that have been that early in the season how are the runs and snow levels?

Has anyone booked their flights at the snow shows that are one? Were you able to get a good deal?

Thanks in advance.
 

Crystal

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so many q's...okay I'll tick off a couple.

Silver Star, if you stay on the Knoll it is a bit of a hike to ski school but okay. Walking to the village is also okay with well groomed walking tracks and not far really from anywhere. Going that early in the season would be a bit sketchy for Silver Star as it is very much steeper than Big White and needs a lot of snow for most of the back to be open.

I think it would be fair to say that a blue run at Silverstar would be like a dark blue maybe even black at Big White.

Me personally with Children, I would stay int he village center if you can. Many places on the Knoll say ski in/out....but they may not be really.

Big White village noise levels I didn't find so bad apart from Fri/Sat night closing time at Sams...things can get rowdy and you hear them. I have heard Whitefoot can be noisy although have never stayed there. We stay in the building across from it Ptarmigan and have never had issues with noise.

You can't go wrong with either resort really for a family.
 
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SnowflakesRule

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I think it would be fair to say that a blue run at Silverstar would be like a dark blue maybe even black at Big White.

.

Thanks very much @Crystal. Appreciate the feedback.

Wasn't expecting the blues to be that different. Good to know the comparison for the two resorts. Not something I would have expected in the same country.

Big White is sounding a little more appealing as there's something to be said for knowing the resort terrain reasonable well with smaller children!

Fingers crossed for some good accommodation offers. I've been wanting a white Christmas for years and even living in Scotland for 3 years it didn't happen.
 
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absentskier

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Thanks very much @Crystal. Appreciate the feedback.

Wasn't expecting the blues to be that different. Good to know the comparison for the two resorts. Not something I would have expected in the same country.

Big White is sounding a little more appealing as there's something to be said for knowing the resort terrain reasonable well with smaller children!

Fingers crossed for some good accommodation offers. I've been wanting a white Christmas for years and even living in Scotland for 3 years it didn't happen.
I always preferred Silver Star. Spread your wings and explore somewhere new.
 
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blowfin

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Having spent some time at Big White just after Xmas I wouldn't suggest it for that time of year (or Silver Star for that matter). Half the hill was closed, concentrating everyone on the front part of the mountain. When the back side opened, queues were horrendous and the cover was still not quite right, people were being carted off in ambulances after hitting hidden rocks on piste. I was lucky to only get a ding in the board and nasty stack. The pressure to get it all open must have been immense. Remember this was Christmas, so early December is _VERY_ early in the season, and a massive risk. I'd really suggest looking at somewhere closer to the coast (Whistler), for at least the start of your trip. I'd suggest Washington/Oregon too, but from my limited knowledge, I don't know of anything that's particularly family friendly in those areas.
 

absentskier

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Yeah apologies, I didn't read your dates closely enough @SnowflakesRule. Early December could be fine, but it could be sketchy. Arranging a one month ski trip from early December to early January is far from ideal.
 

SnowflakesRule

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Thanks @blowfin. Sorry to hear about your stack. Hope you weren't hurt too much. If you don't mind me asking, what kind of runs were they having the issues with? All of them or just the more advanced ones?

We weren't expecting all runs to be open during the early part of the trip so it's not a big deal from that respect as we'd probably stay on mostly greens and easy blues for the majority of the trip, especially with the youngest - and I'm more a greens girl anyway. As much as I love it out there, I'm not a natural so tend to just enjoy the simple runs and enjoy watching the kids have a ball and progress.

We're hitting that point in our kids lives, esp the eldest, where school is starting to get trickier. We've taken her out of school for the last two trips in the first term with no issues (still primary school) but that's getting as she gets more involved with groups and needing to be there for that first term, a long with her chosen sport of figure skating. Dec/Jan holidays are the best time from all of that but obviously there is the drawback that it is early season. Whichever way we go, something is going to have to be sacrificed.

We can probably push the skiing a week later and spend a bit of time in Vancouver first, which might mean we get the benefits of the slightly cheaper airfares to balance out the time in Van. Can't push it much later though as it's an early start to the school year on the 22nd Jan.

@absentskier. We are tempted to spread our wings again. We skied Bad Gastein, Big White, Andorra and Sun Peaks before settling into Big White once we had the kids. It's kind of become home and familiar to us. Now the kids are older it's starting to get easier to consider different places.

Does anyone have a good idea what a decent price would be for a long stay during that time? We've only done Feb/Mar before so it's not the best comparison.

Thanks everyone for the input. It's giving me more to think about while I wait for some accommodation quotes to see what we're in for and if we can push the budget that far.

Any tips for early season skiing would be great!
 

sly_karma

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Early Dec is early season as some have already mentioned. Coastal resorts typically get more snow early on, but they're also prone to rain. Both coast and interior have a wide range of possible snowpack conditions for the time frame you mention. In the interior I've seen runs open with nothing but manmade snow some years, and 80 cm base in early December some other years. Second week of December just gone I was at Lake Louise in -35 temps, the guns were running 24/7 and they transformed the place in just 5 days.
 

blowfin

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Thanks @blowfin. Sorry to hear about your stack. Hope you weren't hurt too much. If you don't mind me asking, what kind of runs were they having the issues with? All of them or just the more advanced ones?

It wasn't too bad thanks, I shook it off with a hot coffee and watching someone get in an ambulance :confused: I was able to keep riding. It was on one of the blue runs towards the bottom of the Gem Lake Chair, 10-20 cm of fresh cover, submerged rocks. I basically hit one at full speed, totally not expecting it. Would have been the 27th of December when they opened that side of the mountain, after a decent dump overnight. Some of the rocks would still have been exposed on the previous day I'd say, amazing they weren't marked the day it opened, or the run simply closed.
 

SnowflakesRule

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@blowfin. Always good not to be the one in the ambulance! Mentally noted to leave new areas at least a few days before venturing in to let them pack down and cover properly - as well as being extra careful in powder.

@slykarma I can't imagine -35! I think the coldest we've had was around -20 and that was cold enough. It's one of the things I like about Big White is that it's not overly cold. That being said, I think one time we went it got down to about -17. I don't think we were out for much that day.

It's looking like Silver Star is calling. Have struggled finding someone in Big White for a decent price/willing to let us stay that long over that period of time. Based on a 35 night stay I've had $225 per night at BW compared to $150 per night at SS. Accommodation almost comparable though location not as good at SS compared to BW.

Fingers crossed as just waiting for a couple more details to settle then hoping to secure accommodation by the end of the week. Then it's flight hunting time.

@skifree - any tips on good runs? Looking for a few really nice green runs for the littlest (5 year old) to put in his practice time skiing on his own.

Any other advice on early season skiing would be appreciated. We've accepted the drawbacks and know that using the village shuttle may be a very real possibility and that we risk not a lot of runs being open and snow not being ideal.

Positives is we get to go to the snow - and sooner!. Thank goodness both kids are as addicted as we are! And we'll be there for a long time so things should balance out. Figure that we can ease ourselves back into it during the early days and save the pushing it for the second half when things are more settled.

Thanks for all the advice. Appreciate it.
 

KneeDeep

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Plenty of green runs will be open, the kids will soon be hitting the blues. Had my two granddaughters there this year, went from greens to skiing blacks and trees in two weeks.
 
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Crystal

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They will have fun under the Silver Queen and off the Quad down the left side. After a couple of weeks, get them through Deer Park..... sign says black trees, go with them, don't be scared...they'll love it. You can always pick and easier line through there. My youngest lives in there.
 
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skifree

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What Kneedeep said.

There is a nice smaller run next to the tube park and a throw from the ice rink, a triple win.

Also they have an excellent nordic school and trails, so do not forget to introduce the smaller snowflake to the human powered side.
 
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SnowflakesRule

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Thanks everyone. Great information.

@KneeDeep That's great that your granddaughters improved so quickly. I suspect dad and daughter will be exploring the blues and blacks a little more this time. She loves trees, he's not so sure - it's a ski length thing! Hers are so tiny compared to his and he follows to make sure she's safe. She doesn't always take that into consideration though I'm sure she'll learn soon enough. She was so happy when we picked her up from her lesson last time about going on her first black!

@bluess57 Thanks. That's not too far from where we're hoping to stay. Should be a nice place to find our ski legs after the long flight!

@Crystal Don't be scared? Too late! :) I'll keep it in mind for the more confident ones and see how I go over the first couple of weeks. I'm getting the hang of the shorter skis so you never know I might find myself in there yet. I've moved to skiboards after 10 years of getting nowhere on the longer skis, which included groups/private/ladies only lessons. It's made a huge difference to my knees and I can ski longer (not only on a per day basis but I don't get to the end of the trips anymore and find the last week a struggle) and I have a more fun - feel way more confident especially venturing into the trees. Not to say I look any better but I certainly feel better! How old is your youngest? If you don't mind me asking.

@skifree Ice rink will definitely be visited, most likely with great frequency. Have a figure skater for a daughter and she'll want to spend a bit of time there keeping her skills fresh. Haven't considered the nordic side of things. Will keep that in mind.
 
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bluess57

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Btw there is 2 lane of 10 pin bowls at back/underneath of firelight lodge (I stayed there)
Mini snow mobile course for younguns at base of brewers pond (ice rink) , right next to tube town
Your biggest problem will be keeping the kids out skiing
 
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SnowflakesRule

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@Crystal Cool. I love watching my kids progress and be brave. The smile on their face when they get something is awesome. I think mine just a touch older at 7 when she started exploring trees within the lessons and then taking Daddy through them after - forgetting that Daddy was a bit bigger and not necessarily able to get through the same spots as her! P.S Interesting Date joined!

@bluess57 These won't cause a problem with keeping them skiing - just with getting them to bed at night. Thanks for the heads up.
 
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SnowflakesRule

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So I'm calling it a win. :D

We decided to bump the holiday to the 15 Dec -14 Jan and I figured since it was right smack bang in the middle of the school holidays those dates probably weren't going to go on sale and the sooner I booked those flights the better.

Found the details of the flights I wanted on matrix.itasoftware.com and took them to Flight Centre. They found them so I booked them right then and there. Average $1893 per person (2 adults and 2 kids) Brisbane - Van (direct) - Kelowna and back! Those same flights today (I'm researching best times to book for next time!) are averaging $2564!

I had been planning to book direct through the airline website but they weren't giving me the options for the Kelowna leg that I wanted so decided to go with Flight Centre.

So, now just have to finalise accommodation and transfer and that pesky travel insurance.

Thanks for the advice everyone. It's certainly been taken into account.

Snowy Christmas here we come! :emoji_snowflake::emoji_snowman::emoji_snowman2:
 
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debetha

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So I'm calling it a win. :D

We decided to bump the holiday to the 15 Dec -14 Jan and I figured since it was right smack bang in the middle of the school holidays those dates probably weren't going to go on sale and the sooner I booked those flights the better.

Found the details of the flights I wanted on matrix.itasoftware.com and took them to Flight Centre. They found them so I booked them right then and there. Average $1893 per person (2 adults and 2 kids) Brisbane - Van (direct) - Kelowna and back! Those same flights today (I'm researching best times to book for next time!) are averaging $2564!

I had been planning to book direct through the airline website but they weren't giving me the options for the Kelowna leg that I wanted so decided to go with Flight Centre.

So, now just have to finalise accommodation and transfer and that pesky travel insurance.

Thanks for the advice everyone. It's certainly been taken into account.

Snowy Christmas here we come! :emoji_snowflake::emoji_snowman::emoji_snowman2:

Snowflakesrule - what did you decide with the resorts? I was thinking 15 nights at BW with a season pass for our family, but now thinking of maybe spending a week at silver star? Just more $ for transfer and ski passes but I'm worried about a possible lack of snow/ white outs and hedging my bets. We arrive on Xmas day to 9th Jan

Anyone have any advice before I pay for accommodation?
 

SnowflakesRule

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@debetha - we went Silver Star but that was mainly because it was where the best deal was. The nearest price for Big White accommodation for that time was about 2.5K more (we're are going for a month though). Admittedly we did struggle finding someone willing to rent for that length of time over Christmas.

We've never been at Christmas time so I don't know about the white outs at that time of year. I know they do tend to happen at Big White and I either take the day off and relax, play in the snow with the kids or stick to slopes we know well and take it easy. The benefits of going for a long time is it's not too big a deal if you lose a day here and there. I believe with Silver Star being slightly lower the chance of white outs are less, but then the higher up you are it's usually more snow sure. I believe sometimes it's good to go up even if you can't see in the village you might be able to see at the top. This is where checking the webcams can help!

The season pass and early bird lessons are a big plus to staying put. One thing to note though with Silver Star Early bird lessons is that for the time frame you are there they can only be used for afternoon lessons.

If you are splitting between two resorts, definitely chat to some travel agents and get some quotes to compare to the DIY option. I don't tend to use them but that's only because it's difficult for them to beat the price when we stay for so long. Owners are much more flexible with rates for that length of time.

I don't know that hedging bets between Big White and Silver Star will make much difference. They are pretty close. Maybe someone might have some other ideas about resorts to go between that might be a better option if you go that way.

We've had amazing times at Big White. The ski school is awesome with the kids and there's usually some free activities that are on through the week for the kids too.

Whichever way you go have an awesome time.
 

sly_karma

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SS and BW are not very far apart and so they experience similar weather. (On a clear day you can see all the Okanagan resort summits if you know where to look - Baldy, Apex, BW, SS, Crystal). Both resorts have loads of on mountain ski in/out accoms and so similar price structures for lifts, lodging, food, lessons, etc. They are both very much built on the family vacation model and offer seamless check-in, ticketing, lesson and off-snow activities.

IMO the only meaningful differences are the mountains themselves. BW extends well up above treeline, whereas SS achieves its comparable vert drop by topping out just short of the alpine. This makes SS more skiable in foggy conditions, but it is by no means fog-free. Both resorts have huge slabs of novice and intermediate terrain, but again IMO, SS has more to offer for advanced and expert skiers. BW has the Cliff bowl, but it's in the alpine and unusable a lot because of poor visibility. The tree skiing at BW is its real strength. SS had a go at creating some but blew it. Its forte is lots of steep narrow bump-filled chutes.
 

SnowflakesRule

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Okay, so please tell me there is at least some easy tree skiing at Silver Star! I just started to get the hang of the basics last trip and was hoping to be a bit braver this time!
 

KneeDeep

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Okay, so please tell me there is at least some easy tree skiing at Silver Star! I just started to get the hang of the basics last trip and was hoping to be a bit braver this time!
Yes, I will be there from 21st January for two months, contact me there and I will take you tree skiing.
 

SnowflakesRule

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Thanks @Crystal . Will check it out while we are there.
@KneeDeep Sorry we'll be gone by then but will definitely be wary of the ones that don't move.

We're really looking forward to checking out somewhere new. Kids are over the moon about being there for Christmas.
Times slowly ticking away but no doubt it will slip by quickly the closer it gets.
 
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KneeDeep

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Meh, they took out far too many trees when all they had to do was limbing and remove the deadfall.
True, they really got carried away when they did Canntastic a couple of years ago,must have got a good price for the timber, hardly any trees left. Stuffed up what could have been a good area.
 

sly_karma

Green Bastard
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Log prices are certainly strong at the moment, province wide shortage as the industry has to balance the overcutting permitted during the pine beetle infestation a few years back. Clearing for new runs is probably a money making proposition.
 

BillyKidd

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@sly_karma ... apropos of nothing else other than this is in the Canada topic area I see that the Fentanyl scourge is hammering Vancouver and parts of the province. Hope there is not too much out your way.
 

sly_karma

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Fentanyl is everywhere, like any drug problem. Big cities make it more visible because there are so many people in a small area, but country towns and villages have it too. The stuff is super concentrated so only tiny amounts are needed, makes it almost impossible to stop its entry into the country because the dealers simply put it in the mail.
 
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