Christmas skiing Canada or North America with DC(31 Posts)
Both my 11 year old and DP are advanced skiers I can do reds in the alps but I am not advanced. We also have a year old baby.
We fancy trying Canada or America thus Christmas. Which resort is best for families? Done courshavel, lech and Val. Fancy something new.
Oh and somewhere with great child care. Ideas most appreciated
I've done Banff which we lived but it was Pre kids so can't comment on childcare but plenty goi g on in Banff
Skiing was brilliant We did go in January tho and it wasVERY cold
I'm not sure I'd do it that cold with kids let alone a baby.
I love Whistler, great skiing and a buzzy resort. But I haven't been since DC as couldn't face the baby/long flight/jetlag combo for a ski holiday.
For great childcare (including babies) I would recommend Esprit, but they only do Europe.
Thank you ladies, we have done Christmas a few times in the alps. Would whisler be colder than the alps in December?
We were in Whistler last Xmas and it was amazing. Busy busy on the main holiday, but really great. .. we're going back at Easter!
I did a lot of research about possible weather, snow levels and facilities and decided it was the one. Banff possibly too cold in a cold snap (it was -40 last Xmas, whistler was also unusually cold too, but not so bad). I've been to Breckinridge and it didn't offer enough difference to go back again. Vail didn't seem quite as snow sure either.
My DD5 needed a day off skiing and we used Whistler Nannies. They were great, flexible and great service. I would contact them. I'd hurry up though it's peak time and you'll want a block booking.
The kids ski lessons are brilliant too. All day, very technical and on a GPS monitor so you can look at their stats. They take skiing very seriously and it's max 4 in a group. They pay real attention to skills and give feedback on all aspects. Much much better than 10 trailing behind an instructor, but expensive because of that.
Canada doesnt groom the slopes in quite the same as Europe so you might find some of the skiing quite challenging. Greens and Blues can be Green/blue/red equivalents in Europe. Black diamonds are usually ungroomed so moguled to fuck. There is usually one or two groomed though. Double blacks are cliffs - I kid you not! The kids lessons will take them down diamonds and it will really push your 11year old on and give them a moguls master class.
Have a look at Creekside rather than Whistler Village. It's cheaper, quieter and the same hill. The Peak to Peak gondola means you can transfer easily between both mountains (although the queue can be big)
I've been in Les Deux Alps at -25 at Xmas, I've been to Whistler and it was the same, possibly lower. The range is usually no lower than -15, so I'd say yes, it could be colder than Europe, but that depends on which resort you compare it to. Banff and Lake Louise are noticeably colder as further in land. The ocean keeps Whistler warmer.
The real estate is bigger in North America so rooms are bigger, standards are higher (US clients demand it), service is good, queue are unfailing polite and people chat to you on the lifts and share their local knowledge. I think it's worth the flight... whether I'd do it with a one year old, I'm not sure as an 8 hour time shift takes a bit of getting over. We went for 13 nights and did other activities too so no one got fed up with skiing - Tree trekking, bobsledding at the Olympic track (amazing fun), ice skating, Coca Cola tube park and the kids coped well.
For families especially with young children I would always recommend Silver Star and Big White in the Okanagan. Great ski school and child care, lots of family events, skating and tubing and not too crowded. Everything ski in/ki out. I always find the grooming to be amazing, although I agree maybe not on the blacks. Also lots of tree skiing, which kids love. The instructors take them down crazy little tracks which will be different if your 11 year old has only skied Europe. Although the journey is longer we've been taking ours for Christmas since the youngest was 6 months.
Wouldn't do Banff with kids as you stay in town and have to get buses with skis etc to the lifts. Wrangling skis and a baby not much fun on a bus. Although you could stay in Sunshine. We found daycare there (with a 3 year old) to be good, but staying up the mountain got a bit stir crazy after about the days.
I didn't word my grooming comments well!
Don't assume it's all groomed overnight. It won't be. Check the grooming map (on the excellent App) and not just st the trail map
learned the hard way with DD5 on an ungroomed blue, leading into an ungroomed black on day one The quality of pistes and grooming is excellent, but only half of Whistler seems to get done, but that does include much more green and blue.
Aftershock I'd love to hear more about Big White. Do you go for more than a week? Are apartments readily available? Are there better/easier places to stay?
Thank you this is so helpful, good you both think Canada is worth the trip.
Do they do chalets or is it all hotels? Would like cooking facility for baby. Didn't think about jet lag......... will need a strategy for that.
Sounds like it will thrill my boys
Don't call me and Aftershock, which companies do you book with?
dontcallme oh yes I understand the grooming comments now I've re read. I've not skied for so long in Europe I just assumed they groomed everywhere to spread the thin snow about, but didn't if there was good coverage. Big White grooms all greens, probably 2/3 of the blues and maybe a handful of blacks. What is groomed is beautiful corduroy. Sometimes the beautiful grooming if covered by deep snow again by morning! I've also realised that there is no standardised view of what makes a green/blue/black as it varies so much from place to place.
Big White is a great place. We normally go for 10-14 days. We have done a week now our kids are older but it's not our preference. Just sometimes it works out like that. The drawback is it is 2 flights as you can't get to Kelowna airport direct from the UK, but once you have done that it is so easy. We even get a supermarket shop picked up by our shuttle driver before they collect us from the airport.
There are lots of apartments to rent - either through Central reservations or owners direct type sites. Best areas for family's are near the village centre for ski school and daycare or down in Happy valley - where skating and tubing etc take place. That's a short gondola ride up in the morning, ski back in the afternoon. We always stay near the village. Best condos location wise are Eagles, Stonebridge and Stonegate. Stonegate has best facilities, Eagles is the oldest, but some condos have great views. We now stay in Stonegate always now, having tried out all of them. Sundance seems popular with families (pool has water slides) but the location is a bit of a pain I think. Not really close enough to centre or Happy valley so people use the shuttle bus with children. Easy ski in/out - more the walking in for dinner!
We would definitely recommend it. Happy to answer any questions if you want more info.
I do it myself. The best
or worst thing about Whistler is that it is all one company. That means one price and no shopping about for lessons or kit. You get different providers but they all charge the same.
We do this:
Flights - Air Transat (seat back entertainment, new planes. Basic service and food)
Stay - Legends Creekside (via website below)
Transfers, lessons, kit, activities- Whistlerblackcomb.com
If you do activities outside of the resort you can find other suppliers though.
There are less apartments in Whistler, they tend to be hotels. I've stayed in a catered chalet a few years ago. It was on a golf course and had a drive to the slopes, but not recently. However there was a very good thread on Trip Advisor about apartments and I think it said the upper village was good, but search for apartments Whistler on the forums and you'll find it I expect.
For jet lag I take melatonin and it works very well. They sell it as a health supplement (!). You clearly can't give that to baby though. I find they are slightly easier at that age to adjust. My BIL lived in the US and when the kids were very small it was better. When they got to 2 it was tough for a couple of years. Clearly every child is different so disregard all that.
You might want to get booking if you're thinking for this year. We've been booked for months for Easter and judging by how busy it was over Xmas, others will have done the same. It was a record breaking year for snow though so many locals were also out.
Thanks After interesting. Which airports do you tend to use?
We are going back to Europe the following year as we only have a week available (big summer trip), but IMO Canada offers better value, you just have to suck up the flight. I'd be interested to go elsewhere so will put Big White in the mix.
Snow wise, only Finland had as much snow as Whistler.... I have my eye on Japan though
Another vote for booking direct. We once booked with I think Inghams as it looked cheaper - it was only afterwards I realised it was only cheap because the flight was such dreadful routing.
For Big White we fly Air Canada either via Vancouver or Calgary. Have a slight preference for Vancouver as when things go wrong , there are more internal flights to Kelowna than from Calgary, but Calgary flights mean you arrive at a better time. Flying a different airline transatlantic can be cheaper, but we've had BA cancel a flight and then we have the knock on costs of moving the internal flight to fit. Also Air Canada are always pretty motivated to make sure you catch your return transatlantic flight and help you rush between planes if there is a delay.
Big White is mostly condos - so you will get a kitchen. There are some hotel rooms but I'm not sure there are any catered chalets. We would do breakfast in the condo, lunch on slopes and then eat out every other night. Book everything via Central Reservations either online or by phone. If you are planning for this year and will ski more than 8 days you still have a couple of weeks to buy early bird season passes - 8 days seems to be the break even point this year. You can also book half price lessons, cheap ski rental for children and then get in resort discounts. You can also book the resort shuttle from the airport, or get a private one (recommend Discover Okanagan as you can have a supermarket shop - the resort store is OK but more choice and better value in Kelowna). You won't need a car.
Jet lag isn't so bad going out - you just wake early for a few days. We used to make the kids only ski a half day on our first day, so they had a chance to swim and then have an early night.
Big White is much less busy than Whistler so I think you will still have time to book for Christmas.
Happy to answer any other questions. Canada definitely worth it for the snow and teaching and general all round friendliness.
Good point on the flight changes. Air Transat are not beyond changing flights, but we book over a year ahead so expect it. We also work for ourselves so it doesn't matter particularly.
Tried Whisler struggling to find anything so trying big white now. Any other suggestions welcome...
Are you struggling with somewhere to stay?
Yes, cant find anything descent. Found a 3 star in whisler but don’t want to travel that far and not feel spoilt...
Big White is a struggle too. I can only get up to Boxing Day there.
TANTALUS RESORT lodge is all we can find in Whisler
Have you tried Silver Star? Similar journey to Big White. Bit smaller but still good.
Have you spoken to central reservation? If you've only been on the website, I'd call central reservations.
You could try Kimberley too - we've had really good skiing there. They have some ski in ski out accom too.
Not sure about flying but Fernie is 3 hours drive from Calgary, Kimberley more like 5 if I recall right
We used to live in Edmonton so know that area a bit but haven’t skied them (eldest wasn’t big slope ready so stayed in the small local ones in Edmonton).
Jasper is 3hrs from Edmonton and a good area for skiing.
Banff and lake Louise is about 2hours from Calgary.
Depends if you want to be right in the resort or not. Banff is a bustling resort but very busy so books up quickly, if you are happy to drive a bit to the resort each day consider Canmore. The apartments there are pretty much 4-5* and self catering, most have a pool and underground parking. Check Kijiji.ca and airbnb for direct rentals, also Expedia is a big one for hotel rentals.
Thank you ladies booked Snowmass/Aspen in the end.will update after Christmas
I realise I'm too late to the thread, but for anyone else who uses it later...
I went to Bannf/Lake Louise at Christmas, many years ago. There were days when they shut the high-speed lifts because it was too cold for them to operate! (Possibly the same days that the car temperature monitor gave the outside temperature as -52 degrees Celsius on the drive to Lake Louise.)
We were staying in a motel type place, so had to go out for supper every night. Walking along the street you had to wear a combination of neck-warmer pulled up over your nose and woolly hat pulled down, so that only your eyes weren't covered. We'd been warned that exposed flesh would freeze in a minute or so. Eyelashes froze together every time we blinked.
We had a good time, but someone who once lived there commented afterwards that "no-one skis at Christmas, it's far too cold!".
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