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Big Family Fun at Big White Ski Resort

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“It's the snow.” The Big White motto says it all, but that's not all you need to know about this Canadian ski resort. There's also the wintry activities for families, great village atmosphere, and the natural beauty of the British Columbia interior that appeal to ski enthusiasts from all over the world.

Big Family Fun at Big White Ski Resort - Champagne Powder Snow

Big White's famous Champagne Powder snow

Family Focus

Big White's emphasis on offering a family-friendly ski experience is part of its history. The British Columbia resort is one of the few remaining family-owned ski resorts in Canada, and will be celebrating its 50th anniversary during the 2013-2014 season. As evidence of its child-focused nature, the resort designates different runs as Slow Zones each day. These runs are fenced at points to make it safe and fun for  children and beginners who want to take it easy down the mountain.

Champagne Powder Snow

Big White receives an annual snowfall of 24.5 feet of dry, fluffy snow—known as Champagne Powder. This light and airy snow makes for truly amazing ski conditions that are quite different from coastal ski resorts like Whistler Blackcomb or Mammoth Mountain.

In 2008, Ski Canada awarded its Best Powder prize to Big White, in recognition of its bountiful snow. With a vertical drop of 2,550 feet, and 118 designated ski trails for all levels from beginning to expert, there is enough terrain for everyone to enjoy; there are rarely lineups of more than five minutes or crowded runs of competing skiers. This is skiing paradise found.

Big Family Fun at Big White Ski Resort - Sesame Street-themed hats for kids in Big White Village

Kids have their own ski shop in Big White Village—Look at these adorable Sesame Street-themed hats!

Big White Village

The village of Big White is self-contained, with all amenities within a short walking distance of hotels, condos and ski lifts. Big White has a centralized reservation system where you can book accommodations, lift tickets and lessons. With that level of centralized control, the resort has the ability to offer great deals and special incentives for families, such as kids stay and ski for free at certain times of the year.

Big Family Fun at Big White Ski Resort - Ski School for kids

Kids Centre ski school

Ski School & Daycare

Big White offers one of the largest, indoor ski school buildings of any ski resort in British Columbia. The building houses the Kids' Centre ski school registration and equipment rentals, a kitchen to prepare kids' lunches, and two play areas divided by age: 4-6 and 7-12. A climbing wall plus LEGO activity tables keep kids busy before or after lessons. Lessons for younger children and beginners take place off the main mountain, near the Adventure Centre, with a moving carpet to get kids back up the hill.

You can choose an instructor via Big White's Ski School database, which includes information about second languages, nationalities, and even personal interests. If you're looking for an Aussie boarding coach or French-speaking Swiss ski instructor, no problem! There is also a door-to-door valet service, whereby for a small fee the instructor will come to your hotel and pick up your child for lessons. Anyone who's had to wrestle a small child into their winter gear to make an early morning lesson knows how valuable this service is to parents!

Big Family Fun at Big White Ski Resort

Flaik GPS tracking system for kids

One of the more unique aspects of the Big White Ski School is the Flaik GPS tracking system that each child receives once they've checked in the program. The Flaik band is worn on the lower leg and charts the child's whereabouts at all times (great peace of mind for parents). Mom and Dad can access the system and virtually follow their child's progress for the day, viewing the runs and the amount of vertical terrain their child has skied.

Big White also operates the Tot Town daycare facility for young children (babies to age 5), who may still be a bit too young to hit the slopes.

Big White Ski Resort - Gunbarrel coffee at the Gunbarrel Grill

Gunbarrel coffee at the Gunbarrel Grill

Dining at Big White

You can build up a big appetite after a day of skiing. There is a wide variety of restaurant options throughout the Village, from small cafes offering tapas-style healthy menu choices, to traditional bars and burger grills, to more fine dining (but still mountain casual) establishments like Carver's Bar & Grill, a 2012 Where to Eat in Canada pick. No visit to Big White is complete without sampling adult-only Gunbarrel coffee or a hot chocolate from the Gunbarrel Grill. It's a fiery, one-of-a-kind experience.

The Happy Valley Day Lodge, just a short gondola ride down from the main village, offers access to the casual Moose Lounge, Cafeteria and Bistro, and the fine dining Kettle Valley Steakhouse restaurant. The resort also hosts daily family activities for kids, such as crafts, marshmallow roasting and s'mores-making.

Big Family Fun at Big White Ski Resort - Ice Tower

The Ice Tower, for adventurous Big White visitors

Beyond Skiing

At the nearby Adventure Centre, you can skate on the outdoor rink, take a horse-drawn sleigh ride, arrange for a dog sled tour, and kids can ride a Mini-Z snowmobile and snow tube. If you're feeling really adventurous, climb the 60-foot Ice Tower.

Big White Ski Resort in British Columbia, Canada

Here I am (on right) taking a break from boarding with fellow blogger, Andrea Fellman of SavvySassyMoms.com

Getting There

United Airlines just launched its daily non-stop service from Los Angeles, California to Kelowna, British Columbia, making Big White the closest and most directly accessible Canadian ski resort from California. A shuttle from the Kelowna Airport ferries you to the resort in just under one hour. Note: You can pre-arrange a 45-minute grocery-store stop, to purchase supplies to stock up for your stay. While there is small grocery store in the Village, supplies are limited and more expensive than in town.

If you are looking for a skiing or snowboarding adventure to share with your kids, and you want a truly fantastic ski resort for your family's winter holiday—Big White should be at the top of your list. It's the snow… and much, much more.

Do you enjoy skiing holidays with your family? Where is your favorite mountain resort? Share your comments and tips in the comments!

A Note from The Curious Travel Mama: I was a guest of Big White Ski Resort. They did not request that I write a favorable review. The views are honest and my own.

All photos by Claudia Laroye.

About Claudia Laroye, The Curious Travel Mama

Claudia Laroye lives in Vancouver, Canada, with her husband and two sons (ages 18 and 20). She started travelling at a very young age, and has never stopped. She’s had the fortune of visiting more than 20 countries on four continents, and has also lived abroad in Sweden. Claudia is passionate about family travel and about educating children through the travel experience. She is the author of the thetravellingmom.ca, and contributes to many online and print media publications. Connect with Claudia on Twitter as @travelling_mom.

Comments

  1. What a fun resort – I had never heard of it before now! That ice tower is unbelievable – can’t believe you climbed it – I think I might have opted for the sleigh ride!! 🙂

  2. You have to make your way west, Lisa! And as nice as a sleigh ride would be, you could climb that ice tower – you just can’t think about it while you’re doing it. 😉

  3. I have never heard of this resort either but if anyone talks to me about skiing I’ll be sure to let them know about it.

  4. Big White tip: The chocolate cake slices and triple chocolate brownies from the Big White Bakery (located in the basement of the main building) are awesome! This year we purchase a whole apple pie to enjoy in our cabin after dinner and were blown away at how delicious it was. We have also celebrated birthdays up there and have ordered cakes from them.. yummy!

  5. Thanks for the feedback Ellen and Noony. Big White certainly deserves to be more widely known, although those of us who love it may be torn about giving away our little secret! 😉

    Have noted the tip about the Big White Bakery – thanks Noony. There is always room for pie & baked goodies after a hard day of skiing!

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