The good life

Light, fluffy “champagne” powder is a feature.

Light, fluffy “champagne” powder is a feature.

When Brian James moved to the Okanagan Valley in 1967, SilverStar Mountain Resort’s village comprised a few remote cabins. Much has changed in the intervening 50 years.

The village can now provide overnight accommodation for 5,600 people, there is an international airport an hour away, and the surrounding region is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream, on and off the snow. “We’re so fortunate,” says Mr. James, who now runs two ski shops on the hill above the town of Vernon. “It’s still a little village at the end of the road. It’s a very romantic notion to go on a ski holiday, park the car and not need it for a week.” Mr. James sums up the attraction of a SilverStar ski vacation in one word: easy. It’s simple to get to, he explains. Daily direct flights from Toronto and eight other cities land at Kelowna International Airport, just an hour’s car ride away.

“There are trails everywhere, both downhill and nordic,” says Mr. James. “You just step out your door and slide away.” Beyond the 132 downhill runs, SilverStar’s cross-country ski area is one of the country’s largest with 105 groomed kilometres. Plus, there’s a skating pond, fat biking and snowshoeing, and free shuttle buses get each member of the family to their choice of venue.

Many of the same attributes are also found at Big White Ski Resort, says Mr. James, including perfect skiing weather: sunny, moderate temperatures and plenty of dry snow. As for the other resorts in the interior, each has its own personality, he says. Two hours east of SilverStar is Revelstoke Mountain Resort, home to big snow, big mountain terrain and the longest vertical decent in North America. Not much farther East, on the TransCanada highway, is Kicking Horse Mountain Resort – an excellent choice for skiers seeking challenging terrain.

Whistler Blackcomb has one of the longest ski seasons – typically from November to May – in North America. The two side-by-side mountains boast more than 200 marked runs, 8,171 acres of terrain, 16 alpine bowls and three glaciers.

Adventurous skiers will also enjoy Whitewater Ski Resort. “You get a backcountry feel without leaving the ski area,” says Mr. James. And Kimberley Alpine Resort, located in the Purcell Mountains, appeals to those who like it mellow. “It’s a nice and quiet place to go, great for eastern skiers,” he adds. Fernie Alpine Resort is the furthest east of B.C.’s resorts. Its bowls, deep snow and charming town are the big attractions. And between Fernie and Kicking Horse, Panorama Mountain Resort offers long fall line runs and an ideal climate for consistent snow coverage.
 Across the B.C. interior, the one constant is hospitality. “When you come for a ski vacation everything is set up to make life easy,” says Mr. James.

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