After our beautiful winter wedding in Whistler, we decided to head the 2nd largest ski resort in British Columbia for a “ski-moon” in mid-February.
Big White is about a 5 to 6 hour drive from Vancouver, which by Canadian standards is a trip to the shops. However, having taken on the “Coq” in winter before and lost with a cracked wind shield, and having fear further instilled in us by watching “Highway through Hell,” we decided to take the safety first approach and fly on Westjet the 450 km to Kelowna International Airport in a rapid 33 minutes!
We then jumped on an official Big White minibus for a short 50 minute transfer to the highest mountain of the Okanagan Highlands. Our driver Harry was extremely friendly and informative and before we had arrived we knew everything we needed to know about Kelowna real estate, skiing techniques, Aussies and the best bars in Big White!
Reasons to pay a visit to Big White:
- Okanagan Champagne Powder! You have to ski it to believe it but the snow is fresh, light and fluffy which makes skiing effortless and very enjoyable!
- No ice as temperatures stay below zero (well it did during our visit anyway) as the Village is located at 1750m, which is over 1000m higher than Whistler Village.
- The terrain at Big White is great for beginners and intermediates like us with over 70% of the 118 runs being green or blue.
- Daily “Slow Zones” that make it easy for beginners and those who don’t like crowds and want a run to themselves.
- A genuinely ski in, ski out set up, plus bars, restaurants and supermarkets centrally located in one village which you easily navigate on foot or using the free village gondola.
- Big White markets itself as knowing what skiers want, and from our observations we could see that most apartments had private hot tubs, a great way to relax with a beverage after a hard day bashing pow!
- Big White is very family orientated as evidenced by the 100s of kids we felt like we looked after on the ski lifts on behalf of the stressed out instructors / child minders. Every afternoon and evening the resort puts on a family friendly event such as a bonfire and free hot chocolate. There is also a large ice skating rink as well as an impressive tubing area. Obviously being 32 Paul was far too old to go on the ice climbing tower (nothing to do with fear then!)
Top insider tips
- Big White is heavily populated by Aussies, so learn the local lingo, which is basically involves using “no worries” at the start of every sentence. To really fit in grow a beard, don’t cut your hair and swig beer like it is water!
- Unlike a lot other ski resorts we have visited Big White offers flexible lessons – just show up at 10am or 1pm with a valid ski lesson voucher, choose your group and off you go! If the head is a little sore form the night before, “no worries” – start your lesson in the afternoon instead!
- On our 3rd day we quickly understood why sometimes this ski Resort is referred to as the “Big White Out” as we could not see the ground from our 4th floor balcony. In these conditions head over to the Black Forest where the mist seems to go missing and the tree lined runs make navigation significantly easier!
- We tried a couple of restaurants and were definitely not disappointed. The baby back ribs at the Bull Wheel come highly recommended, while the Kettle Valley offered some fine premium steaks (the long wait for them was worth it!)
- If you want to spoil yourself, we highly recommend Stonegate 3 (specifically room 405) as a place to crash. The condo was fitted to a high spec, had an amazing view over the valley from the hot tub and even had an xbox!
- If you want to get to know the mountain better, snow hosts are available to take you on a complimentary guided mountain tour at 10.30am every morning from the village centre, just look out for the yellow jackets.
- If you want a massage book in advance, with just two spas it can be hard to get a “drop in” appointment even on a weekday at 9am!
- Look out for special deals – we booked before November 30th and got a night’s accommodation and a day’s skiing free!
Overall, a fun family friendly ski resort with great powder and “no worries”