1. There's more to this forum than meets the eye!

    We have a vibrant community here conversing about all sorts of non-snow topics such as music, sport, politics and technology. Simply register to reveal all our Après topics or continue browsing and reading as a guest.

    NOTE: This notice may be closed.

    Dismiss Notice

I’m dreaming of a “family” white Christmas

Discussion in 'Canada' started by Parkesyau, Dec 27, 2019.

  1. Parkesyau

    Parkesyau Hard Yards

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2014
    Messages:
    170
    Likes Received:
    11
    Hi guys. This forum has helped me so much with planning over the years ( an epic Japan snowboard holiday with my partner back in 2015), so I’m hoping now that we are a little older and come with “baggage” that the Canadian experts can point us in the right direction.
    We are almost 40( and one just over) and our baggage is two kids aged 12 and 10 by the time this trip comes around.
    Next Christmas is a milestone 40th bday and ive always dreamed of a white Christmas. Snow, ugly tacky pyjamas, carols, decorations hence why I wanted to spend some time in Banff. I wanted the kids to ski on frozen lakes, go sledding, do some Christmas stuff but then also incorporate some skiing and boarding. Our youngest loves skiing and only started this year at falls creek. We love putting them in ski school so we can get a good board in, then spend the afternoons cruising greens or easy blues with the kids.
    My original plan was to do the Christmas non ski stuff in Banff then head to a ski in ski out resort like whistler( I know like all aussies) but I’ve seen the poor snow conditions this year at Christmas and am not convinced. I also have pencilled down Big White and Sun Peaks which I know have nice villages. However I don’t know how they are for families. Big white I’ve heard a lot about. now I don’t absolutely have my heart set on these other resorts but it certainly is a lot easier being ski in ski out with kids who can very easily want a rest half way through a day. I am considering maybe I just stay put in Banff/LL area and just hit those mountains but it’s quite off putting having to get on busses with kids and gear and all that stuff. I know lake Louise is world class and we also have the likes of sunshine and Norquay too.
    I guess I’m hoping someone can give me some advice on the matter. Should I just stay put for two weeks and ski one of the 3. Do they have ski schools and nice runs for the kids( and nice scenery?) are these resorts a bit more reliable for snow? I know the Rockies arw suppose to be spectacular. I have no great desire to go to whistler other than it’s got the name.
    If I’m better off with a week onsite what are some suggestions? Preferably decent village with restaurants, stuff for kids(ice skating?) good green runs and ski schools? We won’t be going off piste at all. Like I said I have big white down and sun peaks.
    Thanks so much in advance
    PS my partner keeps saying let’s ditch the Christmas vibe and go back to niseko still the most amazing snow I ever saw
     
    Snowfi likes this.
  2. gareth_oau

    gareth_oau Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2008
    Messages:
    50,961
    Likes Received:
    21,758
    Location:
    Canning Vale, Perth
    Are you into road trips, or just looking for one resort?
    Will you hire a car?

    Sun Peaks is proabably the most popular Canadian resort on this forum, and always has a big attendance., and is great for kids. You can dump them for the day and they cant get lost, with the village in the middle of 3 different mountains.

    12 months ago we did a combo road trip/Sun Peaks - you can get some ideas here https://www.ski.com.au/xf/threads/gareth-and-nikkis-epic-canadian-venture.83300/

    Maybe fly into Calgary, rent a vehicle, spend a week or 2 looking through Banff, LL, Revelstoke, and then spend your skiing time in SP, or Big White (for example), before handing back to Vancouver.

    Just remember ski resort accommodation in the xmas/new year week is stupidly expensive, and then is much cheaper from a few days after new year when the loacals return to work
     
    K_Bird and Chalkie like this.
  3. bomber

    bomber One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2001
    Messages:
    4,369
    Likes Received:
    1,179
    Location:
    Brisbane
    Have done 2 white Christmas’ in BW and loved it. Set lunch up in the oven went for a ski, back to the hot tub and then lunch. Daughters were 17 and 11 at the time.
    Just do it.
     
  4. Parkesyau

    Parkesyau Hard Yards

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2014
    Messages:
    170
    Likes Received:
    11
    Thanks Gareth, not sure on whether we will get a car I imagine yes from Calgary to get to Banff but going beyond that I know can get a bit hairy. We plan to do the Christmas and new year period in Banff area and not hit the ski resort until the first week of January anyway to avoid the crowds and cost. just wasn’t sure what Big white was like ( I read it basically spends it whole time in clouds and poor visibility) or sun peaks. I guess we want a decent ski in and out Village with a few options for food etc
     
  5. Parkesyau

    Parkesyau Hard Yards

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2014
    Messages:
    170
    Likes Received:
    11
    Thanks bomber glad to hear you enjoyed big white. Certainly it’s looking like a better option to us than whistler. I just hope the terrain suits us and the kids
     
  6. Roymond

    Roymond One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2018
    Messages:
    697
    Likes Received:
    1,579
    We are back at BW this year after SP for the two years before that. BW is the one our kids (12,11,10) keep wanting to come back to.
    Happy valley with the fireworks , Skating , bingo , trivia and free hot chocolate has the kids entertained every night. There’s plenty to do for the ‘Christmas ‘ thing just to base yourself at BW.
    Ski school for kids was outstanding.
    We lost a half day only through the fog but we may have got lucky.
    From a family perspective , BW is better imho.
    SP we would return to for the ‘ski adventures’ program, but if I understand what you are looking for with your family spread of ages, BW would be top of the list.
     
  7. Parkesyau

    Parkesyau Hard Yards

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2014
    Messages:
    170
    Likes Received:
    11
    Thanks Roymond this certainly helps knowing your kids love it. Might be a better fit for us.we are thinking of spending a little over a week on slopes after we spend time in Banff. The idea of not being on slopes and having to lug gear up from Banff to the mountains daily isn’t really appealing so will keep that for more sightseeing and Christmas stuff.
    Thanks for the info on big white good to know your kids love it
     
  8. zac150

    zac150 One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2010
    Messages:
    4,758
    Likes Received:
    7,824
    So a few additional thoughts, Canada does Christmas well, the lights in Vancouver are awesome and well worth stopping into, possibly more Christmassy than Banff, but Banff is Banff and is just a magical town.

    You mention BIg White and village and these are two words that shouldn’t be used together. To explain I love the village feel in Thredbo and tend to always prefer village style ski resorts. Big White had the feeling of a club med to me not a village, sure there are a few shops and restaurants but not a true village. This comes with pros and cons, if it’s your one big Canada holiday, big white offers everything in one place in terms of sledding, tubing skating etc. But for me there were a few things that let it down as being a great family resort (these may change).
     
    Chalkie likes this.
  9. gareth_oau

    gareth_oau Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2008
    Messages:
    50,961
    Likes Received:
    21,758
    Location:
    Canning Vale, Perth
    I don't have much experience in other resorts, but I've been to SP six times each for about 1 month and love the place. Haven't seen any rain, nor wind, and only seen 2 whiteouts.

    A cr is a good idea as you can take a break at Kamloops, and go see a hockey game, or drive up to Helmcken Falls (depending on how long your stay is)

    Another option if you want BW or SP is to fly to Calgary, rent a car for a few days, then back to Calgary and fly to Kelowna or Kamloops and rent another car fo rthe resort part of your trip, then drive from the resort back to Vancouver. if you have a few days in Vancouver, there is plenty to do if you have the car.
     
  10. Roymond

    Roymond One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2018
    Messages:
    697
    Likes Received:
    1,579
    I agree completely. that’s why we find sun peaks better from an adults perspective.
    But from a small kids/ family perspective, the benefits from integrated rentals/ lessons/ bus transfer from airport along with after hours family type entertainment , BW offers a great package.
     
  11. vibe++

    vibe++ One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

    Joined:
    May 21, 2015
    Messages:
    1,331
    Likes Received:
    1,263
    Our kids are about the same age. We've done Big white twice and it was their choice to go back a second time. Cant beat ski in ski out with kids less stressful . Heaps of activities to keep them occupied as well.
     
    Roymond likes this.
  12. gareth_oau

    gareth_oau Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2008
    Messages:
    50,961
    Likes Received:
    21,758
    Location:
    Canning Vale, Perth
    I agree, the BW village wasnt as villagey as the SP village and it seemed a lot more hectic than SP
     
  13. luvthabumps

    luvthabumps A Local Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2006
    Messages:
    9,101
    Likes Received:
    4,646
    Location:
    Back in MEL ( with annual trips to the 604 )
    We did 3 weeks in Silver Star about 10 years ago with kids aged similar to yours and had a ball. The village has changed a bit from when we were there but from what I gather, it's still really nice. Has a proper pond for skating / hockey ( as opposed to a man made rink) which adds to the appeal. All the usual extras available - tubing, snowmobiling, sleigh rides to dinner cabins, etc PLUS they have Bugaboos Bakery/Cafe - seriously some of the best pastries you will find in a ski resort anywhere

    We lived in Van for 2 years and the Christmas lights are great, espcially up at Capilano and a night trip to Grouse is great as well but, FWIW, most Van families head to the interior over Christmas rather than venture to Whistler if they are planning an extended trip. The majority of people we knew in Van chose Silver Star as the family mountain of choice. There's plenty of variety there but, like any of the interior resorts, it can get seriously cold sometimes in mid Jan. I've never been to BW or Sun Peaks but I do know that BW has a reputation for fog.

    Depending on how gung ho ho your kids are there's lots of other options - we had friends who took family to Red Mtn, others who went to Revelstoke, and all had a great time.

    If you go to SS, you can take in a Vernon Vipers hockey game as well
     
    Chalkie likes this.
  14. zac150

    zac150 One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2010
    Messages:
    4,758
    Likes Received:
    7,824
    One thing I would add is that I and others could probably slaughter every ski resort in Canada! Ive been to Whistler several times and at New Years, in fact I will be there in a couple of days and didn’t hesitate to go back. I’ve had big white a week later (early January) and couldn’t see the chair in front for a week (it’s nickname is big white out). I know @Lady Penelope had a magical time in Whistler yet those a few days later had an ice rink.

    The point is dont change your mind based on possible snow, go with the resort you want to ski. But I would consider foregoing Banff and doing big white and whistler in one trip, you will get the skating ice climbing etc at big white plus the magic of the whistler village
     
    #14 zac150, Dec 29, 2019
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2019
    Lady Penelope and Roymond like this.
  15. luvthabumps

    luvthabumps A Local Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2006
    Messages:
    9,101
    Likes Received:
    4,646
    Location:
    Back in MEL ( with annual trips to the 604 )
    this is true - unless you're going for an extended period, you can get skunked pretty much anywhere in Canada / USA.

    We were lucky to ski Whistler as weekenders (every weekend from Dec to May pretty much ) for 2 great seasons in 16/17 and 17/18, but we still had times there where it was icy with poor vis and I used to think "imagine if you had flown from AUS for 10 days of this!" Long icy runs aren't anymore fun than short ones ;)

    So I agree, choose a resort based on where you want to go for the Village atmosphere, extra curricular activities, lessons, etc and then roll with it. Whistler is $$$ though for a 2 week stay compared to the interior resorts if you want to stay close to the heart of the village.
     
  16. Parkesyau

    Parkesyau Hard Yards

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2014
    Messages:
    170
    Likes Received:
    11
    Thanks for all the info it’s certainly a lot to go through and consider. I have never had my heart set on whistler so I don’t think I can be swayed to go there I just need to go through SP big white or SS. At the end of the day I’m sure we will get some great skiing either way. Thanks though for all the info. The extra curricular on snow isn’t such a big deal we plan to do a lot of non ski stuff in Banff. I can’t miss or scrap Banff of my list this is the whole reason I’m going to Canada. The beautiful town, the Rockies in the background. Plus skating on lake Louise. as for the snow I think I should be fine with any of the 3 considering I hear such awesome things about them. ski in ski out def is my number 1. I think if whistler wasn’t so expensive it would be more appealing but having friends over there at the moment they say it’s pretty average (less than a meter base). I’m saying that they go every year and said it’s never been this bad so I guess it’s a one off maybe. Either way don’t want to risk going all that way for similar base level to Mt buller.
    I think I’ve been spoilt from my trip to Japan and officially am a snow snob now.
     
  17. Shouldastayed

    Shouldastayed First Runs

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2019
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    4
    If you are starting at Banff also consider the BC resorts closer to Banff- kicking horse, panorama, kimberley and fernie. I'm a particular fan of Panorama and it would be ideal for what you describe. Lots of blacks and db for the morning and blues and greens for the afternoon. Stunning views, nice village although not a huge amount of options for food. Any of those resorts would mean you could go in and out of Calgary, without huge amounts of driving.
    While in Banff do ski Louise but sunshine is a bit meh especially for boarders with many flat spots to catch first timers. Its ok and better than oz but if you are short on time prioritise Louise first.
     
    Snowfi likes this.
  18. Snowfi

    Snowfi One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    May 27, 2011
    Messages:
    582
    Likes Received:
    431
    I'm planning the reverse trip to this. Having been to Banff and LL to ski pre kids, then sightseeing when they were little, I'm looking at 4 nights LL to ski three days and 6 nights Banff to ski three days and the rest sightseeing. Spings, wildlife tour, town, up the mtn musuem etc. We will have done 25+ days by then so taking it easy. My past experiance is buses are plentiful so we will not drive despite cost for 6 of us. Just our preference, we know our driving limits.

    Our trip will start at BW for Xmas, then likely Silverstar but having transfer issues so not sure. Currently no direct transfer between resorts, might change with change of ownership. Looking for private oporators.

    Our Big White choice is family driven, parents have a condo there, and this will be our 5th visit. For us, its family rather than village. The ski school is fabulous, resort is small enough to spend the afternoons with the kids showing you where they skiied and what they did thanks to GPS tracking. Our kids loved tubing esp as in a self contained area so could be independent, I just have a chat at the fire pit. Not a huge amount of boarders there so perhaps get an opinion on that, a bit of traversing (and I'm a Perisher skier).
     
    zac150 likes this.
  19. Parkesyau

    Parkesyau Hard Yards

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2014
    Messages:
    170
    Likes Received:
    11
    Thanks for that I def do some more reading about the terrain too. Not much fun as a boarder on the flats. Especially when kids are on skis. i did think of panorama purely because it was closer to Banff and wouldn’t really have to leave the area but not sure being a lot smaller would we be limited
     
  20. absentskier

    absentskier Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2010
    Messages:
    26,115
    Likes Received:
    15,163
    Location:
    Melbourne
    Never ever make the mistake of being influenced by sub-standard conditions someone you know experiences at a resort. Whistler is the most reliable resort in BC at XMas. The snow came (and is coming) later than normal this year.

    That said, Whistler is better in mid January once the holiday crowds leave. Not a chance in hell Im choosing Big White over Whistler with experienced skiers, but with beginners it is well suited.
     
    zac150 likes this.
  21. Shouldastayed

    Shouldastayed First Runs

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2019
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    4
    Pano is a small village but not a small ski area, which equals NO people. Lots of long fall line run options. Even the cat tracks between runs have reasonable slopes. Its never high on peoples radar but once you've been you wonder why. Its especially good for a mixed group due to the progression of slopes.
     
    sly_karma likes this.
  22. KneeDeep

    KneeDeep One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2004
    Messages:
    1,238
    Likes Received:
    498
    Location:
    Canberra
    Get the Big White shuttle to airport, switch to Silverstar shuttle, easy, just have to book at each resort.
     
    Snowfi likes this.
  23. sly_karma

    sly_karma Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2005
    Messages:
    21,143
    Likes Received:
    12,466
    Location:
    Penticton, BC
    @parkseyau Any of the 'big 3' interior resorts has what you want, especially ski in/out lodging - simply thousands of beds. They have all perfected the family ski holiday and they all have huge swaths of novice and intermediate terrain. Differences between them are in detail only. Get your travel agent working on packages now if you have your heart set on Christmas and just take the best deal. You could also look at Air BnB and VRBO yourself and see how that compares.

    No point in waiting for accommodation and seat sales to come up, there is no such thing at Christmas/NYE.