Ski & Snowboard Holidays, Destinations & Deals

BIG WHITE, british columbia

Big White Ski Resort ticks all the boxes, because of the variety of ski runs as well as off-piste terrrain offered. There is enormous diversity and something for everyone, of all skiing and boarding ability. Big White is an ideal destination for families where not all members may be at the same ski/board level, as the choices are outstanding. There are 15 lifts and 118 designated runs. There are so many other winter activities on and off the snow for skiers and non-skiers alike.

Because Kelowna has an expanding international airport, Big White Ski Resort has become a very popular international ski destination. Big White is an easy 45-minute drive 34.8 miles (56km) south-east from Kelowna International Airport (YLW). From Vancouver the road journey is a comfortable and extraordinarily scenic 5 hours, some 272 miles (438 kms).

Aerial view of Big White Ski Resort's snow-bound village - Credit Big White Ski Resort
Aerial view of Big White Ski Resort’s snow-bound village – Credit Big White Ski Resort
WHY BIG WHITE?

Big White Ski Resort is British Columbia’s highest winter village. Coupled with quality dry champagne powder and a reliable annual snowfall. This mountain offer truly spectacular skiing and snowboarding, all from this snowbound elevated village.

The unique elevation and slope side location of the village centre makes this mountain so accessible. In addition, the central village location of Stonebridge Lodge Resort, offering unparalleled genuine ski-in ski-out access.

Whether you’re a beginner, expert skier, or a snowboarder, this mountain has plenty to get excited about. Ski Big White and experience everything from cozy snow bowls, to varying downhill runs, tree glades and a super steep cliff.

In addition, the TELUS Terrain Park provides skiers and boarders a magnificent playground of jumps, boxes, skier cross, and pipes – all things freestyle. In fact, the terrain park was awarded “Best Park & Pipe in the Pacific Northwest”, great recognition from On the Snow’s 2012 Visitor’s Choice Awards.

In 2020, Big White’s terrain park will play host to the SBX World Cup event.

Big White hosts 2020 SBX World Cup
Big White hosts 2020 SBX World Cup

Big White’s famous ‘champagne powder’, blankets 118 designated trails and dozens of magical pine tree glades, which are serviced by high-speed, state-of-the-art ski lifts. You can even reach the summit of the mountain itself. Standing tall at 2,319m (7,606 ft) the peak has views that will leave you breathless.

A special feature of Big White’s run design is that from the top of every lift there is a variety of runs types and always including at least one Green run. This allows friends and families to ski together no matter the individual standards.

Champagne Powder ski holiday at Big White Ski Resort, BC. Canada:
Champagne Powder ski holiday at Big White Ski Resort, BC. Canada: Photo Credit: Gavin Crawford
GOOGLE EARTH

FUN FACT

One of Big White’s favourite green runs —  Serwa’s is named in honour of the Serwa family. Cliff Serwa a local Kelowna resident was a co-founder of Big White in 1963.

His grand-daughter, Kelsey Serwa is a Canadian freestyle skier who is a member of the Canadian national ski cross team. She won a gold medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang and a silver medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. She is the 2011 FIS World Champion and two times Winter X Games champion.

THE SNOW

The Okanagan Valley has a unique micro climate because of the extensive lakes and geography in the region. Big White Ski Resort is blessed with huge annual snowfalls; on average around 24 ft (7.5 metres) of dry natural ‘champagne powder’. It is so dry you can hardly pack a snowball, and it is not uncommon for flakes to be the size of a small piece of tissue paper. Being dry and cold they don’t melt quickly when they fall on your jacket. The comfortable daytime temperatures average 27 F  (-3 C). This is cold enough to keep the snow light and fluffy, yet perfect for skiing, riding the chairs, cross country skiing and other winter activities. Snow records for the resort confirm the reliability and consistency Big White is renowned for.

The dry snow is a delight to ski on. It has a low moisture content and this makes skiing a pleasure. There are no icy sheets nor gluggy wet snow days. Being able to ski in such ideal conditions will assist your confidence. You will be surprised how this improves your ability all round. This video featuring ex Olympian Richie Biggins includes his insights to the quality and consistency of the snow that makes Big White famous.

THE VILLAGE

BIG WHITE VILLAGE

Big White is a unique winter ski resort where the village centre is situated part of the way up the front of the mountain. This means the village centre is snow bound, and the clever design of all-weather roads links the various accommodations. A series of snow-ways (bridges and tunnels), allows skiers and boarders full access from top to bottom with safe ski-in, ski-out accommodation access right to the door.

This makes Big White Ski Resort very different to almost any other ski destination you may have experienced. No walking or shuttle bus to get to the lifts.  At the same time when you arrive at Big White Ski Resort you can be driven right to your lodging.

The clocktower is an easy landmark in the centre of Big White Village
The clocktower is an easy landmark in the centre of Big White Village

The Village Centre Mall with its iconic clocktower is the centerpiece of the village. Here you will find the key services you need – Central Mountain Check-in, Ski School, Rentals, Ticket Office, cafes, and apparel stores. Nearby is the Kids Ski School, supermarket, liquor store, medical centre, gastro family friendly pubs, and restaurants. Everything is close within the main village. Being a snow-bound pedestrian and ski through village, it’s safe for the kids, no cars, and easy to access everything.

Lara’s 8-seater gondola terminates in the village centre, provides passenger uplift and download access between the mid-mountain main village and Happy Valley, where the  Adventure Park is situated and main day car park. Here you will find every conceivable snow based activity – ice skating, tubing, snow mobiling, sleigh rides, ice climbing wall, dog sledding, Nordic and snowshoe trails and more.

DISTANCE

It takes approximately 5 minutes to walk (in ski boots) from one end of the village core to the other.

OUR ADVICE

Big White is seriously good, and a resort you should include your ski vacation planning. The snow is reliable, and so much of it; the terrain varied and interesting; no crowds; and so easy to navigate around the mountain and the village.

The are a myriad of on and off snow activities for everyone.

At last count this ski village accommodates over 16,600 people with some of the world’s best skiing and riding terrain all around you. The village is a world class winter community, with a huge variety of condo and hotel style accommodation, to suit all budgets. We recommend Stonebridge Lodge Resort and Sundance Resort for luxury self-contained condominiums; the White Crystal Inn for hotel rooms; and the Inn at Big White for more budget accommodation. For homes and townhomes, we recommend our partner ChaletsatBigWhite.com

We would recommend for your first visit to Big Whit to allow at least 5-7 days to truly explore this amazing resort.  Stay longer if you can.  Book Now!

WHERE TO STAY

To better understand the accommodation options that will work best for you, it helps to visual the village Download the Map

Accommodations are located mid-mountain, radiating out from the village centre. Luxury condos include Stonebridge, Stonegate, Sundance. Mid-range options include Towering Pines, Trappers Crossing, and Copper Kettle. There is quite a lot of older hotel style accommodation in the heart of the village – White Crystal Inn, Chateau Big White, Inn at Big White. For well-located budget accommodation try the Whitefoot Lodge. View options.

Beyond the village, there are three other distinct accommodation precincts:

Happy Valley – a great selection of condos and townhouses with good ski in. Look for the Edge, Southpoint, The Timbers, Snowbird Lodge. To access the ski runs, you can either take the ski way to the Ridge Rocket, or the Gondola up to the village.

The Upper Village enjoys extraordinary views of the distant Monashee Mountains and an excellent variety of ski-in, ski-out condo and townhouse accommodation but be warned the higher the location, the bigger the hill from the village centre. The resort does offer a complimentary bus shuttle, which is welcome after dinner in the village.

Snowpines Estate is some 15 minutes’ walk (at least) from the village centre. It is a community of its own with many large homes owned by locals, quite a lot of staff accommodation. Some streets are ski-in/out access, but it is a fair way from the village, accessed by a well-lit snow pathway. The free shuttle services this area.

 



Booking.com

TOP 5 REASONS TO VISIT BIG WHITE

#1. It’s the Snow. The Big White motto is “It’s the Snow”. The resort receives over 750cm (26.5 ft) of light, dry, fluffy powder annually. Come and ski or ride in the world-famous ‘snow ghosts’ – our frosty, snow-caked trees.

#2. Canada’s Largest Totally Ski-in/Ski-out Resort Village. You can ski in and out right from many different accommodation options while still being in the heart of the Big White village. Canada’s largest ski-in/ski-out village has something for everyone. We recommend Stonebridge for luxury self-contained condo style accommodation in the village centre; the White Crystal Inn for hotel rooms; and the Whitefoot Lodge for more budget accommodation.


#4.  It’s family friendly – Award-Winning Grooming, Kids Centre & Ski & Board School. It is a parent’s vacation too! Cruise down our immaculately groomed runs, satisfied knowing that your children are being introduced to the exciting world of mountain fun at the Kids Centre. Take a lesson from our top-notch Ski and Board School certified pros so your kids don’t leave you behind!

#5. The Terrain Park – love them or hate them, snowboarders need their space, and Big White delivers big time. In addition, the TELUS Terrain Park provides skiers and boarders a magnificent playground of jumps, boxes, skier cross, and pipes – all things freestyle. In fact, the terrain park was awarded “Best Park & Pipe in the Pacific Northwest”, great recognition from On the Snow’s 2012 Visitor’s Choice Awards. This park is so good, it’s played host to many events world class events including hosting the Para World Snowboard World cup for more than six years. In 2020, Big White’s Telus Terrain park will host the SBX World Cup.

RESORT FACTS
DESIGNATED TRAILS:
#Trails Beginner Intermediate Advanced Extreme
119 18%  54% 22% 6%

Download Trail Map

ANNUAL SNOWFALL:
Big White Ski Resort  24.5 ft 750 cm
TERRAIN:
Resort Area 7355 ac 3053 ha
Patrolled Area 2765 ac 1147 ha
Alpine Glades 1525 ac 618 ha
VERTICAL DROP:

2550 ft / 777 m     Longest Run: 4.5 miles / 7.2 km

Summit Elevation 7606 ft / 2319 m
Village Centre 5757 ft / 1755 m
Westridge Base – Gem Lake 4950 ft / 1508 m
NUMBER OF LIFTS & UPHILL CAPACITY:
Big White Ski Resort 15 28,700 people per hour
NORDIC SKIING:

Big White offers 25 km (16 miles) of incredible combined Nordic and Wilderness trails perfect for Canadian cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.  8.7 miles (14 km) of trails groomed daily with state-of-the-art grooming equipment for both skate and classic technique.

According to USA Today, Big White Ski Resort is one of the best resorts in North America to try snowshoeing for the first time. Not only does Big White have an extensive network of snowshoeing trails, it also offers a variety of guided snowshoe tours daily through the Big White backcountry including family excursions, interpretive outings and even a sunset fitness tour. Big White Ski & Board School‘s team of experienced trail guides are trained to tour guests and provide them with knowledge of the Big White area or teach them the basics before letting them venture out on their own.

NIGHT SKIING:

Ski under bright lights in the largest night skiing area in Western Canada. Under the bright lights on the Bullet Express and Plaza Chair, you can 8429 ft (access 2569 m) of terrain. With a night lift capacity of over 5000 people per hour, the Plaza Chair and the Bullet High Speed Chairs whisk skiers to the top of the longest vertical drop 1955 ft (596 m) of all night skiing areas in North America! On Thursday to Saturday nights, also ride in TELUS Terrain Park.

Big White is usually open from late November to mid-April each year.

WINTER HOURS OF OPERATION:

8.45 am – 3.30 pm Note: These times are provided by the ski resort and can vary based on external conditions, day of the week, school, and public holidays.

TERRAIN PARKS

Terrain Park:

Big White Ski Resort has done extensive work on their terrain park over the last 10 years, partnering with TELUS to develop one of the top ski and snowboard parks in the country.

“The park is built around the progression system, consisting of small, medium, large and extra-large sizing,” said Flynn Seddon, Director of Terrain Parks and Outdoor Events. “This allows skiers and snowboarders to progress along at their own pace and ride within their ability range. The areas are separated, allowing riders to ski and board in the zone that they are most comfortable in.”

TELUS Park also has a standard 12-foot half pipe and a full-time snowcross course to help strengthen basic skills in skiing and snowboarding.

TELUS Park regularly partners with Provincial, National and International sporting organizations to supply event venues for many disciplines of snowsports, from grassroots kids’ events to National and World cup events.

As a result, the park plays host to events that showcase the Olympic disciplines, such as ski and snowboard slopestyle, snowboard cross and ski cross, halfpipe and international World Cup para-snowboard cross and banked slalom.

In 2020, Big White’s TELUS Terrain Park plays host to the World Cup SBX. This Barrels & Berms Snowboardcross World Cup a will make its inaugural debut in the beautiful Okanagan region January 20 – 27, 2020. This will be the first Snowboardcross World Cup in Canada since 2013.

In 2016, Big White TELUS Park won second place in USA TODAY awards.

FUN FACT:

The ski was invented before the wheel. … Fragments of ski-like objects, discovered by 1960s archaeologist Grigoriy Burov, date back to 6000 BC in northern Russia. Skis and snowshoes were first invented to cross wetlands and marshes in the winter when they froze over.

Modern snowboarding began in 1965 when Sherman Poppen, an engineer in Muskegon, Michigan, invented a toy for his daughters by fastening two skis together and attaching a rope to one end so he would have some control as they stood on the board and glided downhill.

GETTING THERE

SNOW HOW TIP: If you are driving from Vancouver, be aware of the Coquihalla Highway’s extreme weather conditions that can be challenging. Learn more.

Big White Ski Resort is 39 miles (62.5km) from Kelowna. From Vancouver by road, the resort is 280 miles (450km) from Vancouver.

 

FLY: Kelowna International Airport (YLW) enjoys many direct North American connections such as Vancouver, Los Angeles, Toronto, Calgary, Ottawa, SeattleLas VegasPhoenixCancunPuerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas and more recently Varadero, Cuba

Because Kelowna International Airport is growing rapidly more international airlines are adding YLW to their routes, and more services being announced regularly. Keep in touch regarding airlines operating into Kelowna.

Kelowna International Airport
Kelowna International Airport

For our Australian guests Air Canada offers direct flights from Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane to Vancouver (YVR) the major entry gateway to Kelowna (YLW).  Similarly, Qantas also flies directly from Sydney-Vancouver during the busy periods of the northern winter. Likewise, Vancouver is a major hub for numerous North American and international destinations.

Air Canada, WestJet, Alaska Airlines, and their code share partners ensure straightforward connections from the USA, UK, Australia and Asia.

The resort’s airport shuttle service meets all flights from Kelowna. It usually takes just 50 minutes door to door. If you are flying into Kelowna, shuttles must be reserved 72 hours prior to arrival, as they do not meet all flights. Remember to let them know if children need a booster or car seat.

BOOK HERE FOR KELOWNA AIRPORT HOTELS 

DRIVE: The drive from Vancouver to Big White Ski Resort will take you through some of the most breathtaking areas of BC – including the Canadian Cascade Mountains and Fraser Canyon. The Coquihalla Highway, an hour-long leg of your trip, also follows the same route as the former Kettle Valley Railway, which has now been transformed into a recreational corridor of walking and cycling trails.

The Route: Driving to Big White Ski Resort from Vancouver, weather depending, takes just over five hours – meaning you can leave in the morning and still get in some afternoon and night skiing! Follow the Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 1) east, through Chilliwack, a small city about an hour and 15 minutes into the journey, until you reach Hope, a 30 minute trek from Chilliwack.

Once you get to Hope, you’ll drive north-east for just over an hour on the infamous Coquihalla Highway, a four to six lane highway with a posted speed limit of 120 km/h. Upon reaching Merritt, turn south-east on Highway 97 for an hour and a half to get to Kelowna. In Kelowna, follow the signs to Big White Ski Area – a half hour drive east on Highway 33, and the final leg – a 20 minute series of switchbacks up Big White Road. Be sure to fill up before you head up the mountain, however, as there are no service stations on the mountain.

If you are considering a road trip to take in other ski resorts and the spectacular alpine scenery; Whistler is only 6.5 hours away via Highway 99, some 297 miles (479 km), Silver Star is  just 1.75 hours: 77 miles (124 km) and Sun Peaks (via Kelowna) is 3.5 hours by road, 169 miles (273 km). Inter-resort shuttles are available.

For the latest information about road conditions, closures, travel advisories and webcams, please visit the Drive BC.

SNOW HOW TIP: Winter tyres or chains are mandatory from October 1 to April 30 each year. Winter tyres can be requested for rental cars also. Look for the snowflake symbol on the tyre. Driveaway are our preferred car rental company, purely based on positive past experiences,  and offering a fleet of vehicles with winter tyres.

GETTING AROUND BIG WHITE: The resort operates a regular loop shuttle around the resort, daily from 7:00am – 11:00pm, with a scheduled shuttle service every 30 minutes, starting from the Village Centre Mall. 

TAXI: There is no taxi company in the resort, however Kelowna Cabs operate from Kelowna and will drive to Big White.

BIKES: Explore Big White’s backcountry terrain on a fat bike! Yet another way for skiers and non-skiers alike to enjoy and explore the mountain. Fat biking is a new opportunity for adventure enthusiasts of all types – check out Trapping Meadows, our Fat Bike designed trail – you’re sure to enjoy the adventure.  These bikes are intended for off-road cycling with wider, over-sized tires to handle the snow. Pricing here.

OTHER TRANSPORT: Big White operate a coach service to Kelowna for shopping twice a week.

SNOWSPORTS SCHOOL

Big White’s Snowsports School has a well-earned reputation across British Columbia, Canada as one of the best.  Like all resorts, they pride themselves on the calibre of their snow-pros. Big White attracts more than its share of the highest qualified Level 4 CSIA Instructors. The fact that many of the instructors are long-term employees, is testament to a well-run, professional Snow Sports School.

Big White’s terrain is the perfect classroom for all levels of ability — for skiers, boarders and Nordic skiers. If you are a beginner, the purpose built Happy Valley Adventure Playground, is the perfect venue to conquer the first skills. You won’t be intimidated by the easy learning terrain, and you are certain to quickly gain confidence.  If you are more experienced, you have an extensive timetable of specialist lessons and camps to challenge your ability.

Big White has a broad variety of improvement lessons and programs. Here are a just a few.

Never Ever Days Designed to give first timers a fun, safe, and encouraging experience with our pros who specialize in teaching adults for the very first time.
Ladies Day Every Wednesday, is Ladies Day. Join other ladies of similar ability for a 2-hour morning group lesson to build confidence and improve your skills, followed by a gourmet lunch at Happy Valley at Noon with wine tasting, and prizes. You can choose between skiing, snowboarding, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing group lessons.
First Tracks For those keen to get the fresh power stashes or carve up the corduroy, enjoy an early morning 90 minute session with your snow-pro.

Get the jump on everyone else and have 30 minutes of exclusive access to the Ridge Rocket Express Chair – which won’t start spinning for the public until 8:30am – so you can experience true “First Tracks” in untouched powder or perfectly-groomed corduroy.

Plus, you and your instructor will debrief over breakfast and coffee in the Village Centre Mall before continuing on your day while most skiers and riders are still getting out of bed.

Instructor Training Program Big White Ski Resort hosts a number of Instructor Qualification or Improvement courses throughout the season. The CSIA Level 1 course is a skier’s first step into the world of instructing. These include: SnowSkoolNothin’ But Snow and, Snow Rehab. With EA you get a full internship working with children in the Big White Kids’ Centre, coaching to Level 1 and beyond, and practical, hands on experience of the world of instructing.
Masters Ski Weeks for the over 50’s The Big White Masters’ Week is a five day ski improvement program designed for the over 50’s. Furthermore, the Masters’ Week is really for passionate skiers; of any ability; keen to improve, living life to the full; active and invigorated. By learning good technique from the experts, you can be adventurous, and confidently ski within your limits, without risking injury.

Imagine this – think après ski socializing on and off snow, whilst improving your skiing skills, in a relaxed and oh so friendly atmosphere.

Snowsports Training Camps The Big White Ski & Board School offers specialized training programs in both a race and/or freestyle environments for aspiring athletes.

Race training starts from introducing gate training, through to developing technically sound turning skills, acquiring the ability to interpret line in a race course, and incrementally adding more advanced skills that raise the competency level of the participating athletes in clear and demonstrable ways. The focus on developing the entire skillset of the athletes is an excellent foundation for improved participation at inter-school competitions or domestic club racing.

The freestyle focused camps are geared to developing an interest and proficiency in the main disciplines of moguls, slope-style, ski/boarder cross and big mountain skiing.

KIDS PROGRAMS

The Big White Kids Centre proudly boasts many awards for its outstanding offering.  It’s the ultimate playground for tots from 18 months through to teenagers.

Your kids will be up and going on skis or snowboards in no time, and as safety is just as important as fun, the Kids Centre provides complimentary ski helmets to all children in its care.

The Tot Town Daycare Centre caters for children aged 18 months to 5 years, ideal for kids who do not wish to ski, or ski just part of the day.

SNOW HOW TIP:  Making advance reservations during Holiday periods is a must to guarantee your preferred lesson type/time.

 Kids Cubs: Ages 3-4 The Ski Cubs program gives children a positive ski experience by building their self-confidence with encouraging instructors in a fun setting.
Snow Riders: Ages 5 -7 Choose between skiing, boarding, or both! Instructors guide 5-7 year olds through five levels of adventure and fun!
Ridge Runners: Ridge Runners is an exclusive group for kids age 8-12 in the Kids’ Centre. Kids can choose between skiing and boarding, as well having the option of full day group lessons in addition to morning or afternoon sessions. Each discipline has six bespoke ability levels and our expert instructors will ensure that their students are progressing to the best of their abilities in a fun, safe and stimulating environment.

Big White Tot Town – Day Care Centre – Voted “Best Place to be Abandoned by Your Parents” by Ski Canada Magazine, the Tot Town Daycare is ideal for the pre-ski child, or for the child who does not wish to ski the whole day. Each day at Tot Town Daycare Centre is unique, exciting and filled with activities and adventures. Children will have the time of their lives with a mixture of indoor play and (weather permitting) outdoor activities.

Enrolment available for children aged 18 months to 5 years old.

SNOW HOW TIP: Flaik is a tracking solution for skiers and riders that allows participants to track their day to see what runs they were on and how much vertical they tackled. All children in the Kids Centre are issued a Flaik.

If you’ve taken part in ski school – your kids can re-live their lesson, earn badges, rate your instructor.

RENTALS

We often recommend bringing your own boots, but save the stress of travelling with your own skis and boards. At Big White Ski Resort, you have a great choice of rental gear — providing the latest technology; and the best in boot-fitters we know at Dizzy’s. If you’re after skis, snowboards or snowblades, you’ll find everything you need in our Big White Rental Shop, conveniently situated in the Village Centre Mall in the heart of Big White

SNOW HOW TIP:  Children under the age of 13 will receive a complimentary helmet when renting a full set of equipment from the Rental Shop.

RETAIL THERAPY

If you are a super shopaholic, then Big White may not quite hit the mark. That said, there is still a good range of Big White merchandise, the leading ski brands, alpine tech savvy equipment and Big White branded memorabilia and souvenirs. All the retail stores are within a hop, step and jump of each other in the village centre. Far & Wide as the name implies is jam packed with local artisan and indigenous pieces, the perfect gift for those left at home.

Retail stores with apparel and equipment for skiers and snowboarders, après ski gear, gifts and souvenirs
Equipment hire and rentals – skis, snowboards, snowshoes, Nordic gear, helmets, clothing, snow bikes
Boot fitter – expert team guarantee comfort & fit     √
Kids gear, candy store and artisan souvenirs
Repairs and tuning open daily

FUN FACT

40 000 Big White Toques Sold and Counting! If you’ve walked around Big White Ski Resort, you’ve probably seen dozens of Big White toques – the colourful hats with their huge white pom-poms. Since they hit the shelves back in December 2013, Big White toques have become the most recognizable accessory on the resort, and this week their sales hit a remarkable milestone…

Big White Toque - a must have souvenir
Big White Toque – a must have souvenir

The Market at Big White  is your full service, on-mountain local grocery, deli and liquor store in the heart of the village. The store is comprehensively stocked and in addition to groceries, fruit and vegetables and certain delicatessen lines, they also stock wine, beer and spirits, and home deliver. Pre-order online.

The store is not as large as the major supermarkets in Kelowna and you may wish to pick up special items you need on your way to the resort, passing through Kelowna.

Big White Beer and Wine is a stand-alone liquor store in the Village Centre Mall. They offer ‘the best of B.C’ from local wineries, distilleries and up-and-coming craft breweries, sourced from the 100 + wineries of the Okanagan and Similkameen valleys, along with 30 craft beers and ciders, and a selection of local artisanal spirits.

 

APRÈS SKI

Because Big White’s Main Street is actually a ski run, guests can ski to the doorstep of a variety of pubs, cafes and restaurants throughout the village. Big White boasts more than 20 different après ski options, and of course, après ski in your own home away from home. Enjoy the snow bar outside The Woods, live music at Snowshoe Sams; sip on a Caesar at the Bullwheel Gastro pub as you watch skiers’ whizz by. Enjoy sensational local produce and exceptional award winning local wines from the Okanagan Valley, at 6 Degrees Bistro. Join in the nightly fun at Big White’s Irish Tavern – The Blarney Stone – the place to be on St Patricks Day.  Après ski is easy, and within walking distance to your accommodation.

The resort is seriously family-friendly — at Happy Valley at the lower level of the resort, toast marshmallows around the bonfire whilst the kids ice skate, or enjoy a sleigh ride to a login cabin for dinner. Feed the men meat, as the saying goes – The Kettle Valley Steakhouse is the place. Try the tomahawk chop – a seriously huge cut of the best beef from Alberta.

The resort hosts a few events during the season. Big Reds at Big White, showcasing the burgeoning wine industry in the nearby Okanagan Valley is a great start to the season.

More than 200 vineyards are dotted along Lake Okanagan, producing international award winning wines, such as Mission Hill Family Estate, partner with local restaurants for Wine Lovers Wednesday at the Globe Tapas Café and 6 Degrees Bistro.

SNOW HOW TIP: A visit to Big White is not complete until you’ve experienced a Gunbarrel Coffee.

 

THINGS TO DO

ON MOUNTAIN

Here are a few of our favourite on-mountain activities: –

Dog Sled Tours Before heading out on your exhilarating dog sled adventure at Big White, you will learn everything you need to know about dog sled tours in Canada. All sleds are guided. Guests may be given the option to drive the sled, daylight and safety permitting.
 Big White Snow Host Complimentary Tours Look for the Snow Hosts in yellow jackets each morning in the Village Centre 10:15am. They will show you the best ski and snowboarding spots on Big White with a Complimentary Mountain Tour. This tour will open your eyes to the locals’ favourite ski and snowboard runs, providing you with the ins and outs of Big White Resort. The hosts are also positioned at the top of the Bullet, Black Forest and Snow Ghost Chairlift each morning to provide up to the minute info on grooming, where to find the powder stashes and general safety.
First Tracks Hit the slopes ahead of the rest. An early start is worth the effort. Starting at 8am as you revel in 30minutes of EXCLUSIVE access with your dedicated ski instructor. Start at the Ridge Rocket Express Chair – which won’t start spinning for the public until 8:30am – so you can experience true “First Tracks” in untouched powder or perfectly-groomed corduroy. Then, from 8:30am the next hour is all about getting first tracks on run after run, as you skip the line queue. This is a bucket list item you must tick off. The experience wraps up with breakfast with your ski instructor in the Village Centre Mall.
 More information regarding these and other activities, available here.

OFF MOUNTAIN

For those days when you feel like a change of pace, or perhaps you have non-skiers and riders in your group, here are a few of our favourite ideas:-

Ice Hockey Tour This is a must-do evening activity! Experience the excitement of the Kelowna Rockets WHL hockey team in action. Known for their exciting, gritty, Canadian hockey style, Rockets games are a fun time for all. Witness the stars of tomorrow fighting for a spot in the NHL. Big White concierge organizes everything — game day tickets, and transportation to Prospera Place indoor ice arena in Kelowna.  These games sell out, book early.

SNOW HOW TIP:  Locals always call it “hockey” never “ice hockey”.

Happy Valley Adventure Centre For the young and young at heart, this is the place to be. A huge range of activities at your fingertips – ice skating on Canada’s highest skating rink, tubing, sleigh rides, dog sledding and more.
Craft Brewery behind the scenes tour Elevation 57 Brewing Company is a new addition to Sessions Taphouse and Grill. Elevation 57 beer is brewed at the highest elevation in Canada; 5757 feet above sea level. It uses naturally sourced water from Rhonda Lake which is located near the base of the Cliff. The lake is 6600 feet above sea level, filled with clean mountain water, and so is the beer! Sessions now sells growlers, cans, and specialty bottles, while featuring all of their brews on tap upstairs at the pub. Tours are a great way to get a behind the scenes look at the operation.
Ice Climbing Big White Ski Resort installed a 60ft Ice Tower in 2010. It is situated in Happy Valley, in the Adventure Park. Visitors to Big White can climb the tower. Each side of the tower is graduated depending on climbing experience, a beginner side and the remaining three more challenging. An instructor supervises each climb and is there to assist guests enjoy the challenge. For more detail this video link will assist you plan your climb up The Ice Tower.
Half Day Wine Tour Ski the morning, then spend the afternoon exploring the Okanagan Valley’s exceptional wine growing region. Savour a long lunch at Quails Gate, explore the architectural masterpiece of Mission Hill Family Estate and learn about the indigenous wine growing operation, Indigenous World Winery.

 

 

 

 

More information regarding these and other activities, available here.
Q & A

What is the best way to get down to Kelowna?

There are a few different ways to get to and from Kelowna. First, you can drive. Big White has plenty of free daytime parking available throughout the resort. If you just need to do a quick grocery shop, our shopping shuttle goes down on Wednesday mornings and Thursday evenings and is just $18 for a round-trip. Our express buses have stops throughout Kelowna – check out the full schedule here. Finally, if you’re headed to or from the Kelowna International Airport, book a ride with our Airport Shuttle.

What’s the story with tipping?

Tipping is generally expected.

Can you tell me the key public holiday dates in Canada during the snow season?

Canada celebrates a number of national and provincial statutory holidays through the winter months, including Spring Break which is a popular time to visit Big White Ski Resort. National holiday dates are here.

What is a tree well?

A tree well is a hole or depression that forms around the base of a coniferous (pine) tree. The holes are formed when low branches stop the snow from compacting and settling around the trunk. The hole is hidden from view by the other branches on the tree. There is no easy way to identify if a particular tree has a dangerous tree well by sight, due to the fact that the low lying branches block sight of the hole. Therefore, treat any tree you cannot see the base of as a potentially dangerous tree well situation.

Tree wells are extremely dangerous - this skier is head first, inverted.
Tree wells are extremely dangerous – this skier is head first, inverted.

Photo was taken December 30 at Big White Ski Resort, by Todd Ganie, who was riding in the gladed terrain on skiers right of the Paradise run. This situation turned out OK due to the fact that he was riding in sight of a buddy.

Prevention Techniques

The easiest way to avoid tree wells is to avoid tree well areas! Stick to marked groomed runs. If you do venture into UNGROOMED terrain:

Ride or ski with a partner and keep your partner in sight at all times. Ski or ride in control. Give tree wells a wide berth. Look at the open spaces between trees not at the trees. Skiers should remove ski pole straps. In dense tree areas or in poor visibility, ski or ride short pitches and stop to regroup often – stay within sight of your partner! Carry safety equipment including, but not limited to: 

Cell phone with resort ski patrol number – for Big White Ski Resort this is 250-491-6160, transceiver/beacon, Avalung, whistle, shovel, probe.

What to do if you are in a tree well

  • Yell or use whistle to get your partners attention.
  • Do whatever you can to keep your head above the surface of the snow including rolling, grabbing tree branches or the tree trunk. If possible, keep your feet below level of your head.
  • If you become immersed, make a space around your face and protect your airway – resist the urge to struggle, it could compromise your airspace and entrap you further.
  • Stay calm to conserve air.
  • Trust your partner is on their way.
  • If possible, use your cell phone to call ski patrol at (250-491-6160). Save this number before you go out riding!

What to do if your buddy ends up in a tree well

More than half of all SIS victims were with partners that did not see them go down. Lose sight of your partner and you could lose your friend. If you lose contact with your partner, assume they need help. Many SIS victims have died while their partners were waiting at the bottom of a lift.

  • Don’t leave to get help – Stay with your partner!
  • Call for additional resources. Use a whistle or yell for assistance. If possible, call ski patrol or the resort’s emergency phone number.
  • Evaluate scene safety for yourself.
  • IMMEDIATELY begin snow immersion rescue efforts.
    • Go directly for the airway, and keep it clear, be careful not to knock more snow into the hole. Clear any snow from the airway and continue necessary first aid or extrication effort.
  • Do not try to pull the victim out the way they fell in. Instead, determine where the head is and tunnel in from the side.
    • When tunneling directly for the airway be careful not to knock more snow into the hole. Continue expanding the tunnel to the airway until you can extricate the body. Efficient “strategic shoveling techniques” with multiple rescuers is very useful.

Stay safe out there!

Can I buy groceries online?

Vacation Food Services based in Kelowna offer a ‘door-to-door’ home delivery service to Big White Ski Resort. For an extra fee they will even unpack the order for you. Alternatively, Kelowna, your airport gateway for Big White Ski Resort, is a large regional town and has an extensive range of grocery and specialty food, liquor and department stores. If you book a private resort transfer with Discover Okanagan Tours they will allow time for a shopping stop en route to Stonebridge at Big White to buy your provisions.

What types of electrical outlets are used in Canada?

Canadian appliances operate on 110 voltage, and plugs are either two flat parallel prongs or two flat and one round prong. Make sure you bring some adapters for your plug configuration.

What clothing should we pack?

Our best advice is to dress in layers, especially if your trip is in the early or late season. As with most large mountains, the base and alpine elevations are very different. What might feel like sweater weather in the village can be much colder weather on the top of the mountain, so layers are essential.

Waterproof gear is highly recommended even for the days that you might not be skiing. Even if it’s snowing on the upper sections of the mountains, it might be raining at lower elevations and in the Village.

Multiple pairs of socks, gloves, and long underwear for under your ski wear. You might not have laundry in your unit or a chance to do it every day, which means some of your wet stuff may not dry out completely for the next day. Bringing multiples gives you time between washing, and allows your items to properly dry so you’re not forced to wear wet clothes the next day. Read more

Whistler is quite a laid back, casual ski town. Even for fine dining, smart-casual attire is appropriate.

What childcare services are available?

Big White Babysitters offer an excellent service across the resort. Contact them for more information.

 

AWARDS & ACCOLADES

2017 – 2017 Top 5 – northwest, Newschoolers.com – Park Poll

This summer, Newschoolers teamed up yet again with Snow Park Technologies to create a comprehensive ranking of the best terrain parks across North America. Big White’s TELUS Park is included in that Top 5 – Read full article >>

2016 #1 Ski Resort in Canada for ‘Best Family Resort’, ‘Best Grooming’ and ‘Best Snow’, Best of Skiing in Canada Awards, Ski Canada Magazine

2015 #1 Ski Resort in Canada for ‘Best Powder’, Best of Skiing in Canada Awards, Ski Canada Magazine

  • Ranked within the top for ‘Biggest Vertical’ ski runs, with a height of 777 metres
  • Won ‘Best Parental Break’ for Big White Ski Resort’s Door to Ski Kids Shuttle Service

2014 Best Ski-in, Ski-out Resort, The Telegraph United Kingdom

“…virtually all the hotels and apartments in this modern resort are ski-in/ski-out, with the main lifts starting below village level. Even the main street through the center of the resort is a designated ski run, which can be traversed to get to lifts or back to accommodation.
…an abundance of snow combined with lots of trees for shelter means it’s a great place to learn powder. There’s also an area called Happy Valley at the bottom of the village offering activities such as ice skating, snowmobiling and tubing, served by a gondola that runs till 10pm.” – The Telegraph