Big White and Silver Star Mountain are Whistler area resorts in British Columbia, Canada where families with little ones can learn a lot and save.
Big White and Silver Star Mountain are two popular Whister area mountain resorts where British Columbia locals love to ski and ride, without the wallet-aching strain of high priced lift tickets.
Both resorts work together to provide a fun, family atmosphere, great conditions (more than 77" base with regular snowfall) and lots of activities for all ages. Family specials, such as Kids Stay Free and Kids Ski Free programs for adults with children age 12 and under, run periodically throughout the season. All around pricing, from lift tickets to lessons to kids clubs, runs about 20% less than at the mountains' bigger name neighbors in British Columbia.
Big White Ski Resort is Pretty Big
Big White is a large mountain that's sometimes plagued with the mushy snow and foggy weather that occurs at Whistler-Blackcomb, but its small, unpretentious base village and cozy atmosphere make it ideal for families. The staff is largely made up of Australian students during the winter season, and there are fun guest amenities such as free hot chocolate at day's end at the skating rink in Happy Valley.
Happy Valley, at a whopping 5,200 feet above sea level, is North America’s highest altitude skating rink. There's plenty of rental gear so all ages can try out the sport, or perfect their triple loops after a day on the slopes.
Not adventurous enough? Try Big White’s 60 foot Ice Climbing Tower. Built with four telephone poles cross-braced together then flooded with water, Big White's breathtaking ice climbing tower freezes into three feet of thick blue ice. With a beginner side and three other sides for more advanced climbers, this is an activity for all fitness levels satisfying anyone with an appetite for adventure. They even have gear for the little ones in the family so everyone is welcome to give it a try.
Big White's Family Learn to Ski & Ride Programs
There are tons of ski school programs and family-together activities, for all ages. The TotTown Daycare, voted “Best Place to be Abandoned by Your Parents” by Ski Canada magazine, is ideal for the pre-ski child, or for the child who does not wish to ski the whole day in the 18-months to 5-year-old age bracket. Another way to start young children (ages 3 – 6) on the slopes — especially those anxious about being away from a parent — is the resort's 2-hour semi-private Mom & Me, Dad & Me program. A maximum of three parent-child pairs per lesson go out with an instructor who will introduce children to skiing, and provide parents with tips on how to teach kids using games and fun activities.
Catch up with the latest Canucks game and have pizzas at Big White's Underground bakery. If you want something more substantial and unusual, try Tuesday nights at Carvers, for a belly dancing show and Indo-Canadian food.
Big White is the larger of the two mountains because it has more lift capacity and a higher base and summit elevation that ensures more snow days. However, pricing and share of beginner, intermediate and expert runs is very similar. If you prefer to stay at Big White in Kelowna, rather than Silver Star in Vernon, there is a resort shuttle which runs twice a week, for a day trip to either property.
Both Big White and Silver Star's day or multi-day lift tickets are valid at either resort, and offer discounts on retail and food. For more information about Big White Mountain located at 5315 Big White Road, Kelowna, BC V1P 1P3, visit Big White.
Silver Star Mountain Resort, Cozy for Snowsports
Silver Star Mountain Resort is popular with families because its "base" village is mid-mountain, so even beginners can enjoy beautiful views. There are lots of groomed green runs packed with the area's fine powder, making for great skiing on the novice level.
In keeping with its strong Canadian spirit, the popular backside of Silver Star is named after the region's historical figures dating to its mining days. Holy Smokes, Bon Diablo and Eldorado are just some of the Backside runs where powder hounds rejoice.
The resort is also known for its beautiful cross country terrain. Silver Star's award-winning Nordic Ski trails stretch across 60km of enchanted forest. Families can take in the scenery while skiing on the same immaculately groomed trails that National teams and Olympic medalists train on.
Silver Star Has Family Ski & Ride Programs
There's a variety of instruction for beginners, from their popular Kicks for Kids lessons, a one-hour private lesson given each morning to start off each child's first day just right, to a nursery and ski school. From 8:30am to 4pm daily, children 18 months – 5 years at the Star Kids Daycare will enjoy supervised indoor and outdoor activities. Silver Star's Daycare Plus is a full day of daycare with a 1-hour private lesson in the morning or afternoon, including rental equipment at no extra cost. This is especially great for 3-year-olds ready to hit the slopes. There are adaptive skiing programs available as well. Older and more experienced skiers and riders will find a large variety of teaching programs, which are highly regarded in the very competitive Canadian snowsports market.
The mountain's restaurants get mixed reviews but Paradise Camp, with its large outdoor sundeck with barbeque, is a popular choice. New this year, weekend evenings it is reopening as a fine dining restaurants for locals. A European style bakery and coffee shop, Bugagoos is known for its bear claws and cinnamon buns — sticky favorites. The cafe is located at the end of the main street, just before you hit the slopes.
Long John's serves an award-winning burger, as well as veggie sandwiches. Families like the fondue at Isidore's Swiss style cafe in the evenings, but this type of slow and deliberate eating may not suit the youngest children. Families with older kids will appreciate Allora, the new wine and tapas bar under the Bulldog Cafe, a fun club and casual eatery affiliated with a very hip club in Amersterdam.
Families who prefer the atmosphere at Silver Star Mountain will find more than 150 rental homes and condo units that can be booked right next to the runs. For more information about Silver Star Mountain Resort located at 123 Shortt Street, Vernon BC V1B 3M1, visit Silver Star Mountain Resort
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