It’s hard to start thinking about another overseas ski holiday when the world has just turned upside down with COVID-19, but it helps to be writing and sharing a positive experience.
If you live close to Big White, like in beautiful Kelowna, you make me very jealous! Of course, in saying this, if you are stuck in Kelowna, you may be dreaming of the stunning beaches here in Australia. It’s always about what you can’t have.
Why Big White?
I have been reminiscing about one of the best family holidays at Big White snow resort, so I thought I’ll share some planning tips from our experience. It’s where my wife fell in love with pure white powder after she learned how to ski, and my son turned from a beginner to a pro in 5 days. We stayed in a stunning ski-in/out condominium with a hot hub, kitchen, and a great view. Big White also where I fell in love with night boarding… OMG!
Big White is the only place we’ve felt completely relaxed during the entire stay of a snow holiday, and it has ‘family friendly’ written all over it. It’s perfect if you are the lazy type! Everything is there at your doorstep, so you don’t need to make much effort to enjoy your snow holiday – the snow, lift access, cafes with great coffee, supermarket, and bars. You can come back home for lunch, put your feet up, watch TV, have a cheeky drink, and head out for another run in the afternoon.
There are plenty of dining options for lunch if you want to get social without the usual lunchtime crowds you will find in other snow resorts. There’s no waiting around for public transport to get back to your accommodation or walking back a long way with all your ski equipment after a long day. You can cruise back home at your own leisure as most of the accommodation is ski-in, ski-out, or thereabouts.
Big White is perfect for beginner to intermediate riders with lots of wide groomed runs and forest trails to explore. If you are advanced, you might be frustrated with the lack of powder bowls, sharp free-falling runs, and other stuff that can hurt you.
1. Book your holiday early
Please book your flights early and time them for late January to February for the best snow conditions. If you are from Australia’s east coast (Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane), Air Canada comes out with awesome deals around June. I booked our entire holiday for the 3 of us from Snow Capped Travel and saved around $500 compared to booking online.
If you are booking via a travel agent, make sure you do your own ski holiday research online and ask travel agents to beat the online deals. I initially found a great flight deal via Skyscanner.com and ski-in/out accommodation deals via Booking.com, then asked for Snow Capped to beat them. They actually came back with a lower price, better flight options, and even included transfers to and from Kelowna. I’ve found this is the smarter way to book travel and save a lot of money. Check in with multiple travel agents in your country and suss out their reviews to ensure they are reputable.
2. Stay close to the town and main runs
Stay somewhere close to these main runs and town center (highlighted on the map below) for easy access to ski lifts, cafes, restaurants, bars, and other facilities.
I highly recommend staying at Trappers Crossing condos, which are of great value, especially if you book early. These are cozy Canadian-themed condos with all the creature comforts and a homely feel – see the inclusions below. The outdoor hot tub was perfect at the end of the day.
Trappers Crossing is not quite ski-in/out, but just a short walk located next to the Perfection Run immediate run and across the road from the Hummingbird beginner run. If you are intermediate or advanced, you can ski/board out to Perfection Run if the snow is good. If that’s not appealing, walk across the road and ski-in below the Plaza chair. It’s a 3-minute walk to the village for all the conveniences, and doesn’t forget to drop into the Bean Scene café across the road for your morning coffee (the best we’ve tried in Big White, hands down!).
3. Night skiing or boarding
Night skiing or boarding at Big White is a must! Apparently, Big White has the largest vertical drop of night skiing in North America, and it certainly felt like it – we had the best fun ever! 4 hours of it after dark was just not enough, and the only thing missing was a ride-up bar. I was in a zone pumping out the rasta music through my K2 helmet and shredding up a storm. My son enjoyed practicing jumps and cruising through Telus Park on repeat.
The best way to do this is to take a half-day, do your morning runs, chill out in the afternoon and start your night skiing around 5 pm. The $12 Friday nights is great value but I recommend going mid-week as there are fewer people on the mountain.
4. Pack in the low light goggle lenses
Big White usually has a big white cloud hanging over the top of it so there’s not much sun coming through until you reach the top of the mountain. It is a spectacular view on top of the mountain so it’s worth the effort.
To enjoy these conditions, recommend packing in lenses for low light conditions. These magnetic goggles are great, so you can change the lenses quickly on the go.
5. Take private lessons
From our experience, taking private lessons at Big White was the best thing for lifting our holiday spirits by improving our skiing technique and exploring more of the mountain. This seriously helped my wife and son take their skiing to the next level. If you are going with a family or group of friends at the same level, I highly recommend booking a lesson with a private instructor). It’s a worthwhile investment that you won’t regret. If Bern is still teaching, make sure you book him! He is a local and really knows his stuff!
6. Try these awesome runs
Having explored the mountain as an intermediate snowboarder, these are the top 3 runs in my opinion:
- Kanina’s Rainbow (Blue Intermediate) – Located on the left side of the mountain, this is an epic long run with stunning views that will make your legs burn.
- Paradise (Blue Intermediate) – Straight down the middle, with stunning views and will keep you on edge and entertained the whole way down.
- Serwas (Green Beginner) – Great fun to be had with a long green run winding through the trees, which is great for beginners and kids trying to learn skiing or boarding.
7. Snowmobiling in the back country
The snowmobile tour was a fun and breathtaking experience to explore some of Big White’s stunning backcountry. We booked a 2-hour ride which was enough to get a feel for the snowmobile and how big this resort actually is. The staff are friendly and knowledgeable, have a great sense of humor, and will guide you through the tour safely.
8. Ski or board hire is easy as
Planning to take your skis or board? If you are coming from Australia, New Zealand, or Asia, it’s probably not worth the effort. Travel light and do it the easy way by hiring all your equipment from the Big White Rental Shop. The equipment is excellent, and the friendly staff will have you sorted no matter your skill level.
9. Keep the kids happy with free popcorn and cotton candy
Keep your eye out for the Carnival night at the Village Centre Mall every Thursday and Saturday from 6:30 pm to 8 pm. It’s guaranteed to keep the kids happy with free popcorn, cotton candy, face painting, games, and much more. All while You relax with a beverage.
10. Plan a Vancouver stop over
Not doing a Vancouver stop-over is probably the biggest regret I have with this Big White snow expedition. From what I heard from other Canadian snow enthusiasts, Vancouver is a worthwhile layover especially if you can time it with an NHL ice hockey game to watch the Canucks play. Check out their season schedule early and time your trip. Other attractions include a visit to Stanley Park, cross the Capilano Suspension Bridge, and Grouse Mountain.
Check out our cool snow hacks and gadgets here to keep things easy at Big White snow resort.