A growing number of Australians are taking their summer holidays at Big White Ski Resort. Australian families and race kids comprise two of the biggest visitor groups to the British Columbian resort.
"Growth has steadily improved over the past 15 years at about three to five percent a year," Senior Vice President Michael J. Ballingall said. "That represents about 25,000 skier visits annually for Big White and about 20,000 for Silver Star."
So what's the big attraction for Aussies? For one, the resort is Australian-owned, and Ballingall reports that "a significant amount of Aussies own condos at the resort."
A liftie dresses up for Australia Day. Photo Courtesy of Big White Ski Resort.
But more than that, it's the flights. Air Canada runs nonstop flights from Sydney to Vancouver, B.C. During the Aussie summer holidays from Dec. 15 to the end of January, the popular flights can book up.
From Vancouver, a connecting Air Canada flight goes the same day to the Kelowna airport, located one hour from the resort. With the way the flights work, skiers can be on the slopes the day after leaving Australia with no wasted travel days.
Aussie families are attracted to the resort due to the programs available for kids. Lessons, ice climbing, tubing, night skiing, skating, mini-snowmobiling, a climbing wall, sleigh rides and dog sled tours are available for kids. Happy Valley provides après ski activities for families with hot chocolate around an outdoor campfire or indoor fun with popcorn in the day lodge.
Kids can ride mini-snowmobiles at Big White. Photo Courtesy of Big White Ski Resort.
The resort also host kids for race training. Some come with their families; others come with escorts such as Australian Snowsports Camps.
Big White can do all the arrangements for a trip from Australia, including airfare, lodging, lift tickets, lessons and ski hire. Groceries can even be ordered online to be in the condo upon arrival. Several tour companies also offer seven- and 14-night family packages.
Big White also has a homegrown ambassador program. "Many Canadian ski instructors go down there to work in summer, and we have an exchange program with staff," Ballingall said.
He estimates that about 30-40 percent of the staff, including instructors, retail workers and lift operators, come from Australia. Many Big White workers from the late 1990s are now coming back to visit with their families.
To find more details about Big White's Australian deals, click here.