Picking the perfect ski resort for families in British Columbia is tough – because there are so many incredible options! I am a pretty avid skier and haul the kids everywhere in order to truly test the slopes and activities. Over the past year we have traveled the province to learn about the kid-friendly ski resorts in BC. I think you’ll love the options!
Big White Resort
Near Kelowna, Big White has more powder stashes that I’ve ever seen. A fab place for intermediate skiiers and boarders, there are wide glades and fast lifts. The Village Centre Mall -“VCM” to locals – is the main lodge which houses equipment rentals, Beano’s awesome coffee, ticket sales and the ski school. Everywhere you look throughout the resort there are family activities, play spaces off runs and instructors gently guiding kids. Last year, Big White introduced the Flaik system to track every child in the moment via GPS. One staff member in the ski school watches the lighted map that indicates if any child it too far away from their instructor. That’s peace of mind for parents!! During the holidays kids can visit with Santa, in March there’s a festival to ‘Cruze the Blues’, encouraging visitors to check out intermediate runs over the entire hill and receive prizes. In my experience the music and vibe was addictive and Big White felt like a true community for young and old.
The food on the mountain is exquisite. From the famous breakfast egg benedict at the Sante Grille to a higher-end gourmet and wine experience at Six Degrees, Okanagan wines and an internationally inspired menu may have you thinking you are on a continent other than North America. For lunch we loved the kid-friendly, healthy selections at the Globe Cafe and Tapas Bar all lovingly prepared by owner Jude Brunt. In the evening and for apres you should check out The Bullwheel. Chef Christopher Thomas has worked with Cirque Du Soleil and his talents can be tasted in every course. (He doesn’t do trapeze though). The pizza making for kids activity was a huge hit with the little ones.
The only one in British Columbia, the ice climbing tower is not to be missed. At a height of 60 feet, it is made with four telephone poles doused in water. Crampons on your boots and clipped into a bulay system, the experience is completely safe (but still got my blood rushing and having me feel like a Bond girl). In the evening, family activities abound in the Moose Lounge in Happy Valley Lodge at the bottom of a short gondola ride. A bonfire melts marshmallows as you sip hot chocolate by the outdoor skating rink and inside there are games, music and Kettle Valley Steakhouse restaurant which you must not miss.
Stay: Stonebridge Executive Lodge
Eat: Six Degrees, Kettle Valley Steakhouse
Apres: The Bullwheel
Climb: The Ice Tower
Relax: Beyond Wrapture Spa
Sun Peaks Resort
Thirty minutes north of Kamloops, Sun Peaks Resort is modelled on an Austrian village and you can ski right through the centre to hit the Rocky Mountain chocolate factory, the Delta for apres or Oya for sushi. Made up of three distinct mountains, you can actually follow the sun to ski in a 360 circle throughout the day. The umbrella cafe at the base of Mt. Morrisey is a fun place to warm up, and at the top of Sunburst chair stands a restaurant – you can smell the fresh cinnamon buns baking from miles around. Kids at any age are fed like royalty at Masas, where they even offer mashed vegetables for really little ones. Older toque-wearing family members may want to hang at Bottoms and hit The Club at the Delta on the weekends.
The typical ‘interior’ snow is light and fluffy, and romance abound as you pass through a covered bridge and take a horse-drawn sleigh ride around the resort. The terrain is very well-balanced and yet there are green runs off each main lift. Morriseys pub and Masas have great patios for the many days when the sun is shining.
Stay: The Delta
Eat: Mountain High Pizza
Do: Winter Festival of Wine
Relax: Sun Peaks Spa
With the look of the alps and a bar scene to rival Aspen, Whistler is a well-established, exciting mountain. The Peak 2 Peak gondola joins the two mountains giving you even more ways to structure your day. I have been to the hill with and without kids and I honestly can’t say which I prefer. When kids and dogs are in tow, the apres at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler is incredible. The hotel offers sleds so the kids can toboggan on the hill behind the hotel while adult rest their feet while having a fancy cocktail on the heated outdoor patio. The Four Seasons treats their mini guests to inexpensive gourmet treats and during special occasions will organize activities like magicians and fire dancers. The ski schools at both Blackcomb and Whitsler have the Flaik system so you can track your child’s route at the end of the day. On each hill there is a kids’ snow place – the tree fort or the castle – which delight the little ones. Between full days on the slopes, swimming at the hotels and a few inevitable snowball fights.. my kids always sleep very well at Whistler.
Without kids, Whistler becomes a different beast. Bouncers at the door may have you on the guest list for Dub-Step night at Maxx Fish and you will have to make a tough decision at the Bearfoot Bistro about whether to sabre champagne or don warm coats in the icy cold vodka room. Fresh tracks can be had if you book a breakfast at the top of the mountain if you’re able to skip the clubs and get to bed early.
Stay: Four Seasons Resort
Eat: Barefoot Bistro
Apres: Garibaldi Lift Company (Whistler) / Merlins (Blackcomb)
Do: Try your hand at Cross Country skiing and biathalon at Whistler Olympic Park
Relax: Scandanave Spa
Nightlife: Buffalo Bills