This Big Mountain Resort Just Keeps Getting Better
By Jane & Brent Cassie
Contributors to Travelink Publishing
On a recent visit to this great mountain getaway we truly understood how this resort acquired its name. In addition to its big snow, big vertical and big terrain, the resort of Big White also offered our family of five some mighty big family fun!
After a short one-hour drive from Kelowna, there was no way of holding back the excitement of our snow-bound brood once they spotted the powder-dusted, sun-drenched, surrounding slopes. 'They've got four high-speed quads' our son excitedly informed as he checked out the Big White map. Nine lifts fan out over the two thousand acres where a hundred ski runs promise skiers and boarders a memorable return to their ski in/ski out lodging.
And when the mountain opened its 2001 season, it unveiled its $35 million expansion - Gondola Park (where you can catch Big White's first gondola up to the village), and Happy Valley featuring a myriad of winter recreational activities and an adventure centre.
Boasting its majestic Monashee backdrop, the village, at 5,760 feet, houses twenty-two hotels, eleven restaurants, eight bars, an award winning kids centre and a variety of shops.
In an attempt to become oriented with our surroundings and keep this active group together, we decided to arrange a tour of the ski terrain through the Snow Host Program. Led by our qualified and friendly guides, Stu and Bev, we checked out varied runs, from groomed hard-pack to feather-light powder, and everything in between. The landscape that had been magically transformed into chutes, cruisers, a half pipe and terrain park were just a high-speed lift ride away and offered natural roller coaster riding for all of us.
Our adventurous powder-hound daughter was eager to ride the Alpine T-Bar where, from its over two-thousand meter summit, she enjoyed the steep and deep around the infamous Big White snow ghosts and widely-spaced evergreens. Even though not choosing the same descent, the rest of us were also able to enjoy this same sensational viewpoint, and the 7.2 km run that lay ahead. Our route, in contrast, led to wide and well-groomed laid-back cruisers, perfect for us slower-folks and slower-pokes! That's the great thing about Big White - all of the lifts offer an easy way out, so that a family like ours, possessing varying degrees of expertise, could still enjoy skiing together. Although big in peaks, powder, and pleasure, Big White emanated a relaxed, uncluttered and unfettered intimacy that is characteristic of a smaller resort. We found that there were no lengthy line-ups, no high speed hot shots, and no need for crowd control. Just unerring dependable Okanogan powder over a fabulous network of trails topped with personable and friendly service.
Ending the day, we cruised down 'Perfection' to the door of our two-bedroom slope-side condo, and while our hot tub's pulsating jets resolved all complaints of thigh-burning muscle strain, we couldn't think of a better word to describe the day. Later, thanks to our well-equipped kitchen, dining-in was definitely an option, although through unanimous vote, we enjoyed testing out one of the many dining options that the village had to offer.
Although Big White attracts all sorts of ski enthusiasts, we found out that they certainly cater to families as well. Every week a schedule offering apres-ski activities is posted. Free casino night, a fabulous fun night and an amazing magic show were three features we were able to enjoy during our stay.
Big White's off-slope activities also received an 'awesome' rating from our adventuresome crew. In addition to ice-skating, snowshoeing, and horse drawn sleigh rides, the dog sled adventures and snowmobile tours are a must!
Whether powered by a brand new Yamaha snowmobile or a sled towed by six Canadian Eskimo dogs, we guarantee it will be an exciting ride. Crystal clear blue skies created a stunning backdrop to the newly fallen fresh stuff while we cruised the expansive backcountry. Both were an exhilarating option from shushing and cruising and both adventures were conveniently arranged through central reservations.
If You Go:
Big White Ski Resort
P.O. Box 2039, Stn R.
Kelowna, BC V1X 4K5
Fax: (250) 491-1484
Web Site: www.bigwhite.com
From Vancouver: Highway #1 to Hope
From Washington: Sumas border crossing to Highway #1 to Hope
Coquuihalla Highway to Kelowna
One hour drive from Kelowna
Regularly scheduled flights to Kelowna from Vancouver, Calgary and Seattle
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