- Overall Rating 5
- Family Friendly 5
- All-Mtn. Terrain 5
- Terrain Park 4
- Nightlife 4
Pros: Varied terrain, beginner run from each lift, low altitude, powdery snow
Cons: No grooming on newer Gem Lake runs, Falcon Chair closed some days
Recommended For: Singles, Family Friendly, Empty Nesters
Date Visited: Mar 1, 2009
We have been on 13 trips to Big White from the San Francisco Bay Area (hint to the airlines - we would like direct flights from SFO to YLW).
People come from all over the world to this resort - however very few Americans know about it.
The snow this March is powdery, up from a low snow season in January. We like the resort because you can have powdery snow like in Utah or the Rockies at a relatively low altitude - the base is just over 5000 ft. This year the grooming job was not as good as usual - the new Gem Lake runs were all ungroomed and some nights runs that are usually groomed nightly were left alone, in part because snow was low. There is masses of intermediate skiing, but it's also a great place to learn to ski - many good instructors, long beginner runs, beginner runs from every lift and it's soft if you fall.
There's plenty of powder off the T-bar at the top of the mountain - try the Enchanted Forest.
For the expert's there's the cliff and many black runs hidden in between trees - or if it's open you can try the Grizzly Bowl off the Falcon Chair. The tree skiing is extensive.
If it's foggy or white out - go to the Black Forest and ski on groomed runs or through the trees.
Also, even on school breaks the lift lines are either very short or non-existent. There's a wide range of restaurants. Don't be misled by the name Carvers - it's actually featuring some great home made Indian Cuisine with thali nights. If you like Swiss schnitzel then go to the Swiss Bear - Bob the Barman also mixes alcohol and coffee well - try the Spanish Coffee.For ribs, try Snowshoe Sam's - also has a disco and bar for excited youth! The Kettle Valley Steakhouse is hidden away in a corner of the Happy Valley lodge, and has fine dining - especially on Wednesday lunchtime for Ladies Day (you pay for a lesson starting at 10:00 am then go for lunch). I've had several lessons at Big White - all good.
If you compare the stats on Big White with Alta in Utah, you will fiind them very similar. The difference is that Big White has safer chairs - all have bars - and there are better shops. The Ski Dazzle clothing shop has excellent taste in ski clothes, but is not cheap. The souvenir neck fleeces are worth buying.
Every evening there is something for families to do. Tubing is really fun, especially with a group. Wear a helmet on the ice rink - I went between the hockey rinks and the leisure skating rink and broke the polystyrene in my helmet.
I love Big White Idol - a karaoke experience for all ages with great prizes - like iPods and ski lessons. It's fun to go to events where there are prizes, only I was sorry there was no sleigh ride or dog sledding as a prize at the Monday night welcome party. Also there used to be more samples from restaurants at the Monday night party - which still offers a few snacks - egg roll, chicken wing, Okanagan wine. It would be nice to have a really buzzing Monday night party with lots of sponsors. Big White might consider having a free version of the party with a paid food ticket so people could have dinner together.