Location: The third largest ski resort in British Columbia, Big White, is sandwiched between the Okanagan Valley and the Monashee Mountain range. It has a fantastic reputation for its first-rate powder as it receives an average annual snowfall of 750cm.
Getting there: West Jet and Air Canada run daily flights to Kelowna Airport via Calgary and Vancouver, connecting international flights from the UK. Big White resort is an hour’s drive from Kelowna Airport; an easy journey to make with the regular airport shuttle bus. If you’re more inclined to hire a car to make your own way there, it’s great to know that the resort has free parking throughout, and the car parks are never too far from the action.
Where to stay: If it’s a hotel you’re looking for then Big White has little to offer; you’ll find the accommodation here is more high-end apartments. They are mainly ski in/ski out lodgings which is perfect for those who don’t want to miss out on the action. Black Bear Lodge is a favourite amongst guests because of its gorgeous timber beams and posts, as well as its views of the Monashee Mountains. Each individual three bed apartment has its own hot tub on the private balcony. Located next to the Bullet Express chairlift you’ll find Stonebridge Lodge. It is perfectly placed in the heart of the village a stone’s throw away from many bars and restaurants; especially 6° Bistro which resides in the lodge itself.
Highlights: It is arguably one of the most ideal places for those looking to learn to ski powder. With most of the lifts from the village and the Gem Lake being quite fast it means that queues are extremely rare (weekends can be busier). Big White has a huge variety of terrain to ski meaning that there’s something for everyone; it is becoming an increasingly popular resort for families.
Downsides: If you aren’t a confident tree-skier then brace yourself as most of the ski area in Big White is heavily wooded. Towards the summit the trees tend to thin out, and there is a bit of alpine skiing in the bowls at the top but because of snow, cloud and freezing fog, the visibility at the top can be limited.
Best Piste Run: If you’re looking to ski some deeper powder then the Sun-Rype bowl is where it’s at; the Gem Lake chair fuels these excellent, long black runs. This bowl is home to the steeper, narrower and more challenging runs. Being a diverse resort there are a lot of blue and green runs for the less confident skiers to the right hand side of the village.
Best Off Piste Run: There’s plenty of off-piste for the advanced skier; normally in the form of moguls around by the double black diamond terrain amongst the trees. The entire Cliff area is ungroomed and you can pick any line down the double black diamond bowl.
Best Restaurant in town: Big White has plenty of places to eat to suit every budget. The Kettle Valley Steakhouse & Wine Bar specialises in local cuisine and wines and is conveniently located in the Happy Valley Day Lodge at the bottom of Lara’s Gondola. On a bluebird day we’d suggest heading to The Woods. They have a great patio with an open fire which is the perfect place to sit back with some cocktails or ice-cold beers. It’s the perfect place for a spot of lunch or dinner as you can ski right up to it. For something a little fancier, 6° Bistro is an excellent fine dining experience with an extensive tapas-style menu, don’t forget to accompany your meal with a bottle of Okanagan’s finest wines.
Best Après Bar: Après is a little quiet here, so don’t expect too much. For a night-time bop head to the ground floor of Snowshoe Sam’s where you’ll find a DJ and live music. Another joint not to miss is Sessions Taphouse & Grill which is a pub well known for its social conscience – the go to place for all things entertainment.