Family Ski Vacation: Whoopin’ it up at Big White.

“Today’s Parent” rated Big White the number 1 ski resort for families in Canada. Do I agree? Yes, Yes, YES

I have skied at over 30 resorts in North America. Most of these were before I was a mom. I was more informed about Apres-ski conditions than kid’s activities and green runs. Times have changed!

Big White offered a long list of activities for kids. This included arts and crafts at Happy Valley, a Saturday night carnival, Santa’s workshop, ornament painting, pictures with Loose Moose, tubing, ice climbing, horse drawn sleigh rides, ice skating, a scavenger hunt, snow shoeing, fireworks, a glow stick parade, and a free gondola.

Not a great picture but this was the scene at the carnival: complete with cotton candy, games, prizes
Saturday night fireworks.

Are these activities the reason I think Big White may actually be the best family resort? Not really, although it doesn’t hurt.

Between skiing, sitting in the hot tub, going in the plunge pool, and building a luge track next to the condo, we didn’t even get to half of the activities above.

What was so great about Big White?

  • The base area was just right. There were enough but not too many services. The main base area included a hand full of restaurants, the lodge and coffee shop, a candy store, a ski shop, a market and liquor store, a gondola to Happy Valley, and a ski run down to three chair lifts.
  • Green runs were everywhere. We did our obligatory run on the magic carpet and then headed up to the Plaza Chair. The Plaza Chair provided access to a hand full of green runs and some kid friendly trees. Hummingbird to Woodcutter was our main route to the Plaza Chair. Two other chairs provided access to other green runs. We quickly realized that we could save the base area traverse to our condo by skiing a green cruiser from the Ridge Rocket Express. The other option was a cat-walk to Happy Valley and Lara’s gondola back up. This got us 50% closer to our condo door. Either way, the walk from the Plaza Chair to our ski lockers was less than 100 yards.
  • There was tons of un-tracked powder. In-bounds was less crowded than out-of-bounds at many resorts I have skied. CD and I were with only a handful of people on the T-Bar. We were alone on the way down. After a bit, one other skier came by and asked us if he was going the right way to catch the Powder Chair. We didn’t really know and we didn’t see him again. Big White has more acreage and fifty percent less skiers than the resort where CD and I met. This was obvious as I was making fresh tracks after just being told “last chair”. Even CD let out a “whoo-hoo” now and then!. Skiing at Big White was super fun!
  • Our accommodations were perfect! Stone Bridge, building 2, was a lucky find. While pretty much all of the condos advertise ski-in, ski-out access, ours had ski-in, ski-out access for kids under 10. That is hard to find. We also had a hot tub on our deck, a plunge pool nearby, ski lockers, and a big snowy hill just off our patio! The nearest run was approximately 10 yards downhill and delivered us right to the Bullet Express. The main base area and Plaza Chair green runs were less than 100 yards away and by the third day, the kids could nearly get there on their own.
Main lodge.
The hill by our patio. It later developed in to a luge track. The kids did it more like the skeleton than the luge, however.
Outside our condo. Every time I went out after dinner, there were moms and dads and kids playing on these hill slides or in the snow by the lodge. Everyone was loving it!
  • Christmas Eve was magical! Evening activities included a photo booth, live music, books with Santa, reindeer food, a visit by the Grinch, a glow stick parade, and an impressive fireworks display.
Christmas Eve fireworks. Our condo is to the left and we are at the main lodge looking up the run.
  • The scenery was beautiful. It was sunny at the bottom and occasionally towards the top.

How long would I recommend staying at Big White? At least a month, or two weeks, or as long as you can. I am not sure how long we would have needed to stay in order to find time for ice climbing or Nordic skiing, or ice skating but I want to go back and do it all!

What other tips may be helpful?

  • Costco and IGA are both on the route out of town from Kelowna to Big White. I recommend stocking up at both but also checking out the Big White market for fun.
  • If you happen to forget your boots, the rental shop staff are super nice. I went there after dinner and was the only one there. I took advantage of having rentals and tried three different pairs on the last day. The staff was nearly as interested to hear what I thought about each one as I was to ski them. I paid $11 more to have get access to better quality skis and I think it was worth it.
  • Saturday night fireworks may not be easy to see. If you happen to stay at Stone Bridge, take a hard left after the BullWheel. You will have a perfect view!
  • Skip the chicken parm poutine at the Happy Valley Lodge. What was I thinking?
  • Check out the BullWheel.
  • Head to the candy shop on the lower level of the main lodge for all of your bulk candy needs.
  • Bring the big bottle of Bailey’s.
  • The market carries Egg Nog, just in case.
  • Duck into the trees on the way to Plaza Chair. The kids will find it hilarious.
  • Bring a sled.
  • Ride the T-bar.
  • Drop off your live Christmas Tree at the transfer station on your way out of town. Don’t worry if yours is the first tree there. They assured me that there will be a pile of trees there by the end of the week.

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Family Ski Vacation: Whoopin’ it up at Big White.

“Today’s Parent” rated Big White the number 1 ski resort for families in Canada. Do I agree? Yes, Yes, YES

I have skied at over 30 resorts in North America. Most of these were before I was a mom. I was more informed about Apres-ski conditions than kid’s activities and green runs. Times have changed!

Big White offered a long list of activities for kids. This included arts and crafts at Happy Valley, a Saturday night carnival, Santa’s workshop, ornament painting, pictures with Loose Moose, tubing, ice climbing, horse drawn sleigh rides, ice skating, a scavenger hunt, snow shoeing, fireworks, a glow stick parade, and a free gondola.

Not a great picture but this was the scene at the carnival: complete with cotton candy, games, prizes
Saturday night fireworks.

Are these activities the reason I think Big White may actually be the best family resort? Not really, although it doesn’t hurt.

Between skiing, sitting in the hot tub, going in the plunge pool, and building a luge track next to the condo, we didn’t even get to half of the activities above.

What was so great about Big White?

  • The base area was just right. There were enough but not too many services. The main base area included a hand full of restaurants, the lodge and coffee shop, a candy store, a ski shop, a market and liquor store, a gondola to Happy Valley, and a ski run down to three chair lifts.
  • Green runs were everywhere. We did our obligatory run on the magic carpet and then headed up to the Plaza Chair. The Plaza Chair provided access to a hand full of green runs and some kid friendly trees. Hummingbird to Woodcutter was our main route to the Plaza Chair. Two other chairs provided access to other green runs. We quickly realized that we could save the base area traverse to our condo by skiing a green cruiser from the Ridge Rocket Express. The other option was a cat-walk to Happy Valley and Lara’s gondola back up. This got us 50% closer to our condo door. Either way, the walk from the Plaza Chair to our ski lockers was less than 100 yards.
  • There was tons of un-tracked powder. In-bounds was less crowded than out-of-bounds at many resorts I have skied. CD and I were with only a handful of people on the T-Bar. We were alone on the way down. After a bit, one other skier came by and asked us if he was going the right way to catch the Powder Chair. We didn’t really know and we didn’t see him again. Big White has more acreage and fifty percent less skiers than the resort where CD and I met. This was obvious as I was making fresh tracks after just being told “last chair”. Even CD let out a “whoo-hoo” now and then!. Skiing at Big White was super fun!
  • Our accommodations were perfect! Stone Bridge, building 2, was a lucky find. While pretty much all of the condos advertise ski-in, ski-out access, ours had ski-in, ski-out access for kids under 10. That is hard to find. We also had a hot tub on our deck, a plunge pool nearby, ski lockers, and a big snowy hill just off our patio! The nearest run was approximately 10 yards downhill and delivered us right to the Bullet Express. The main base area and Plaza Chair green runs were less than 100 yards away and by the third day, the kids could nearly get there on their own.
Main lodge.
The hill by our patio. It later developed in to a luge track. The kids did it more like the skeleton than the luge, however.
Outside our condo. Every time I went out after dinner, there were moms and dads and kids playing on these hill slides or in the snow by the lodge. Everyone was loving it!
  • Christmas Eve was magical! Evening activities included a photo booth, live music, books with Santa, reindeer food, a visit by the Grinch, a glow stick parade, and an impressive fireworks display.
Christmas Eve fireworks. Our condo is to the left and we are at the main lodge looking up the run.
  • The scenery was beautiful. It was sunny at the bottom and occasionally towards the top.

How long would I recommend staying at Big White? At least a month, or two weeks, or as long as you can. I am not sure how long we would have needed to stay in order to find time for ice climbing or Nordic skiing, or ice skating but I want to go back and do it all!

What other tips may be helpful?

  • Costco and IGA are both on the route out of town from Kelowna to Big White. I recommend stocking up at both but also checking out the Big White market for fun.
  • If you happen to forget your boots, the rental shop staff are super nice. I went there after dinner and was the only one there. I took advantage of having rentals and tried three different pairs on the last day. The staff was nearly as interested to hear what I thought about each one as I was to ski them. I paid $11 more to have get access to better quality skis and I think it was worth it.
  • Saturday night fireworks may not be easy to see. If you happen to stay at Stone Bridge, take a hard left after the BullWheel. You will have a perfect view!
  • Skip the chicken parm poutine at the Happy Valley Lodge. What was I thinking?
  • Check out the BullWheel.
  • Head to the candy shop on the lower level of the main lodge for all of your bulk candy needs.
  • Bring the big bottle of Bailey’s.
  • The market carries Egg Nog, just in case.
  • Duck into the trees on the way to Plaza Chair. The kids will find it hilarious.
  • Bring a sled.
  • Ride the T-bar.
  • Drop off your live Christmas Tree at the transfer station on your way out of town. Don’t worry if yours is the first tree there. They assured me that there will be a pile of trees there by the end of the week.

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