Inghams or Virgin Holidays - ski in Canada

(22 Posts)
MrsSalvoMontalbano Sat 05-Jan-13 20:17:56

Hi - have seen similar hol via Virgin or Inghams, neither of which have I used before - any recommendations gratefully received! TIA

celtiethree Sat 05-Jan-13 21:23:22

Hi, haven't used either if those, but for the last couple of years have used a company called Ski Independence who are just great. Have used them for accomodation/transfers/lessons etc in Whistler. They normally have good deals on.

Can you not just book independently? We usually just that. We did once book (using Ski Independence) as it looked like their deal was cheaper than booking the parts separately.

It was only after I booked I realised it was because they made us fly by a really long route with changes rather than a direct flight, so wasn't a better deal at all.

Where do you want to go in Canada?

MrsSalvoMontalbano Sun 06-Jan-13 14:49:13

thanks - useful! want to go to tremblant - will check out ski independence!

We stayed in Tremblant 6 years ago and stayed at the Sommet des Neiges, which suited us well as it is near ski school and also housed the day care where ds3 went. We hired a car and drove from the airport which meant we could do a supermarket stop on the way, but then didn't use the car once in resort. I see on the website they offer private van transfers as well as coach transfer and depending in the size of your family this might work well - especially if they will do a supermarket stop for you.

We want in February and it was very cold and as lots of the snow was from snow cannons was quite icey. The kids ski school was good, the daycare was probably the worst we ever used in Canada/US but was still OK. The restaurants were good for eating out - the portions were huge. It was good for a week but we decided we much preferred the west coast resorts so never went back.

MrsSalvoMontalbano Mon 07-Jan-13 10:08:28

Thanks - intresting about the supermarket shop, as was not intending to do any cooking, but I do find 'foreign' grin supermarkets fascinating - better than any art gallery grin. the reason I was thinking east coast was because of the shorter flight - but since I normally do a 15 hr drive the Alps, maybe that's not a good reason not to consider the west coast - hmm...

I love supermarkets too, part of the reason we do a mix of eating out and cooking. If you don't intend to cook, then you will be fine - and there is a small store at Tremblant for cereal/biscuits etc. Doing a stop at a liquor store for beer/wine can save money - depends how much of a drinker you are!

East coast definately means a shorter flight and less jet lag when you get home! Still struggling to get ds3 sleeping after our Xmas trip - hopefully being back at school will force him to switch back to UK time. We normally do 10 days minimum to west coast, we did do half term once but it was tough. That's why we have done east coast a coupe of times, but love the snow on the west (I don't do ice)

Hope your trip is fun whatever you decide.

juneau Mon 07-Jan-13 11:12:56

I went to Tremblant twice when we lived in the US, but I wouldn't fly across the Atlantic to go there because there are much, much nicer resorts in the Alps only a 2-hour flight away. In addition:
- Tremblant is one little resort on it's own with one mountain. It's a nice enough mountain, but it's not a huge ski area for a week.
- On-mountain dining is crap (which is normal in the US/Canada - they don't have the same tradition of good mountain restaurants that the Alps does).
- Each time we went we had white-out conditions and lots of ice (ice is very common in eastern Canada/US owing to the extreme cold).
- The town looks really pretty on the internet, but in reality it's just like Disneyland. The whole thing was created out of nothing less than 20 years ago, so all those pretty coloured houses are just like Main St USA. There is an old town of Tremblant down the road, which is quite charming, but you only see that if you drive to it.
- The transfer from Montreal is about 3 hours (if I remember rightly), which is a long time to sit in a bus after a 7 or 8-hour flight.

MrsSalvoMontalbano Mon 07-Jan-13 13:51:23

oooh, thanks! must admit I was swayed by the picturesque -looking photos grin also the ice thing is a bit offputting as fell over ice-skating last year and broke wrist, so definitely prefer powder to ice...
so , may i ask a different question to the canada fans - which resort would be best for shortest transfer, good skiing for my teenage dc who are very good skiers, and with ski-in/ski-out accommodation. (By the way, the reason we are not going to the alps is because we cabn only go in april this year, and don't fancy taking a chance on the snow in yurrup then... (and I don't fancy US interrogation after a long flight)

juneau Mon 07-Jan-13 17:56:37

Well there are resorts in the Alps that are high enough and/or have a glacier that are still full of snow in April - Saas Fee, for instance, or Val Thorens.

Here is a list: www.simonseeks.com/travel-guides/top-10-european-ski-resorts-guaranteed-snow__119057

If you're dead-set on Canada then I've heard very good things about Whistler, but I haven't been myself.

MrsSalvoMontalbano Mon 07-Jan-13 18:12:12

juneau - thanks, very useful & interesting! i must admit i d prefer driving my own car, just didn't think i'd get anywhere in europe by then.

I was going to say Whistler would suit your criteria (like juneau I have never skiied there, but know the drive from Vancouver is a couple of hours, late season it can be softer on the lower slopes, but the top is still fine, but overall the snow is 'wet' rather than fluffy dry)

We usually ski in the Okanagen at Big White or Silver Star - these involve a second flight from Vancouver or Calgary and then an hours drive (plus supermarket stop!) Ski in/ski out, close mid April, usually lots of snow. Big White is bigger and our preference now children are older.

Another option is Sunshine if you want ski in/out - often open until May/June. Great skiing, but problem is you are stuck up the mountain and I go stir crazy after a few days. If you stay in Banff you have to bus in each day, but also get the option of going to Lake Louise and Mt Norquay. Banff is about an hour from Calgary I think. We sometimes combine Big White and Sunshine to get a longer break if Easter is very late.

Jasper at that time would be a bit slushy in a normal year as it is quite low (and small) Then there are the other places like Revelstoke, but I don't know of people who have been there, or the other smaller ski hills, but don't think you could make a break just staying at one of them, so would need to move about.

MrsSalvoMontalbano Tue 08-Jan-13 09:41:22

Thanks both - I love mumsnet!!!!

iseenodust Tue 08-Jan-13 09:55:37

We booked Tremblant one year for an Easter hol for the shorter flight etc. Poor/lack of snow meant were rescheduled to Banff by hol company. Banff is lovely but you need a car to get the best out of it. We drove to Lake Louise for a couple of days skiing and up the Icefield Parkway for the scenery/wildlife. However, if your are flying west coast then my favourite is Lake Tahoe - it is just spectacular, great snow.

Peetle Tue 08-Jan-13 11:40:06

I've done Whistler 3 times swank I agree with the "powder at the top, soggy at the bottom" thing - I've been rained on near the bottom before. However, the mountains are huge and the general rule is to get high and stay high. Lots of mountain restaurants, etc.

It is more expensive to get to North America than Europe but it's a lot cheaper when you're there, and the accommodation is usually a better standard too.

I think we went with Inghams but I was a "passenger", not organising a large trip so no real comments about them.

The biggest downside is the jetlag. 8 hours behind is the pits; you're asleep all evening and awake all night for the first couple of days.

And your teenagers will love it - lots of clubs and trendy shops. Also, you can drink at 18 in Canada, rather than 21 in the US (the place was overrun with US students being, well, students for one weekend so you might want to check their holidays).

BC the drinking age is 19 as it varies from place to place.

MrsSalvoMontalbano Tue 08-Jan-13 16:28:08

lol - the dc are 15 and 13 so not yet into clubbing but they do need a big expanse of challenging terrain, so am now thinkng maybe tignes, from that brilliant earlier link

celtiethree Sat 12-Jan-13 20:25:36

We are going back to Whistler at Easter for the third year in a row. Agee the lower slopes can be a bit slushy but there is so much further up that it's not really a problem. Plenty if challenging terrain.. My kids are a but younger than yours but they beg to go back every year.

I think it would be great to go as a teenager. Food and shops are great.

Transfer is a couple of hours from Vancouver.

BlueyDragon Thu 17-Jan-13 08:52:24

To answer your original question, I've been to Fernie, BC, four times, each time with Inghams. They got us there, got us back and all passes etc were fine. Their reps in Fernie were useless (same reps each time, but the last time we went was five years ago so may have changed now) and weren't interested in sorting anything. But if your requirements are pretty straightforward I.e. get me there, get me back and find me a mountain to ski on, Inghams was fine.

Fernie is lovely - genuine old mining town at the base, limited amount of ski in/ski out on the hill itself, fantastic snow when it comes that's much drier than the mush in Whistler. The hill looks small for a long stay but there is stacks of off piste (they pretty much let you ski anywhere within bounds) so if your DCs are good skiers there's plenty there. The lifts are old and slow and it can be very cold, but on the plus side the locals thought ten people was a huge lift queue and nearly had a coronary when I explained about French resorts and the queues. It's not nightlife or restaurant spectacular, but I've taken groups with age range mid-twenties to early sixties and all except non-skiers had a great time. There is little for non-skiers to do even in town. The major downside is the trip - 8 hour flight to Calgary then 4 hour transfer so with waiting and faffing time it's almost 24 hours door to door. I'd go back though, but can't bear the jet lag with small DCs.

MrsSalvoMontalbano Thu 17-Jan-13 13:41:52

helpful - many thanks!!!!

juneau Thu 17-Jan-13 17:30:03

Their reps in Fernie were useless

Ha ha. I used to work for Inghams and my friend worked in the office in Vancouver so she probably knows who the useless reps in Fernie are. Inghams is a package company. The reps to pick you up from the airport and take you back, sort out your lift pass, ski hire and ski lessons, and check on you in your accommodation to make sure everything is okay (and if you have any issues they should at least try to sort them out, if they can). But, TBH, you don't pay for a really personalised service, so you don't get one. The companies that provide a really hands-on service from their resort staff charge waaaay more.

BlueyDragon Fri 18-Jan-13 08:30:00

juneau, the reps were incapable even of dealing with those - if the slightest thing went wrong (bus slid on the way out of the resort and took its bumper off, for example) they had no idea what to do. I do appreciate its a company that isn't providing a personalised service and tbh we don't want in your face reps, but a response to a query or a problem that involved slightly more than a blank face would have been good. I suspect they're not there any longer as it was a post retirement job for them and last time I was there was five years ago. Wouldn't put me off going with Inghams again because, like I said, I knew what we were paying for and didn't need more.

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