I used to be a ski drifter, but I now consider Fernie to be my home mountain. Context: I have skied throughout the U.S. and Canada, and I have probably hit every significant mountain along the way. I am an expert skier, I have children, I am budget-minded, and I don't care much about the base-area and shopping amenities of the hill, provided that it has some staple services (e.g. groceries, wine store).
Fernie fits me perfectly. The snow is very unique; light and bouyant, rather than thick and mucky, like coastal mountains. It means that the skiing is easy and you get far better freeze/thaw conditions over the course of the day. Great fall-lines - the hill is arranged as 5-6 scalloped bowls, giving ample opportunity for North/South run selection over the day. With crowds so small, you can chase fresh lines for the entire day after a snow. As well, snow just happens to fall more often here than in other locations.
We started coming here because it was too expensive to ski with kids in any of the other major ski centres in North America. The difference in overall price was dramatic. Getting an off-hill condo (we love the Riverside condos) gives us access to town and the hill. You must include the town of Fernie in your vacation, as the hill has limited amenities. Good thing that Fernie is a real mining town, rather than the typical semi-Disney creation. Great aquatic centre in town, and surprisingly good restaurant options.
Tips: use the free ski-host program - this is a gem, staffed with colourful locals for every skill level. Ski the trees. Hike to Polar Peak when the weather permits - good for your ski soul. Pack a lunch - the resort is atypically cool about accomodating your lunches in the diningroom. Skip the Facelift surface lift - little benefit gained.
Buy a Louise Card for savings - well worth it. Skip the regular edgings -a little wax application now and then is all you need. If you have young kids, they have an amazing new program that gets them skiing for 1/2 the day, and then organized games in the lodge for the other 1/2. Get the wide skis - either rent or buy in town - this will really help you ski this hill. Sunday brunch at the Lizard Creek Lodge. Try to ski with a local now and again, because there is a great system of traverses that can save you lots of unnecessary lifts. Don't tell anyone about this place. (Oops).