BIG WHITE CATERS TO BIG FAMILIES
"Are we there yet?" This commonly-heard kid quip pops into my mind, a memory from days gone by when we travelled with our five children via minivan. Was that really two decades ago? Although I love the empty nest thing, I'm hoping that, one day, I'll hear those inquisitive words again -from a few grandkids. Who knows when that'll happen-our next generation seems to be super slow in coming!
"What's our ETA to Big White, Mom," our thirty-plus daughter, Emily, asks while fiddling with her GPS. Before I have time to respond, her brother pipes up, "The app on my IPhone says it's just over five hours." Things sure have changed! Yet, even though electronics now replace our wrinkled maps, there are two things I can still count on. Whenever we plan a family holiday, all five of our adult offspring (and their significant tag-alongs) are on board. And if it's to a mountain resort that offers a line-up of winter wonders, they're ecstatic!
Big White Ski Resort, just an hour's drive from sunny Kelowna, appeases all our vacationing whims. Seven annual meters (24.5 feet) of champagne powder blanket its heavenly terrain and a hundred and eighteen runs funnel down to a village that boasts the most ski in/ski out lodging in BC. We'd been able to scout out the options ahead of time and through Central Reservations pre-book two units at Sundance, one of the resort's family-favourites.
"Sweet suite!" our youngest declares, after checking in. We all agree. The craftsman-style gems boast all the primal perks and while snuggled up to the Bullet Chair, the slopes are just a glide away.
But with very little daylight left, we zero in on the action just footsteps away. As well as a Kids Zone, there's a line-up for our adult brood. Two of our fitness buffs head for the workout room and steam bath. A few others check out the mega screen in Sundance Theatre. We make a beeline for the outdoor pool and hot tubs And the rest take the free gondola ride down to Happy Valley, where they skate on Canada's highest Olympic-size ice rink, scale the sixty foot Ice Tower and slide down the Mega Snow Coaster tube park.
Big White's blessings continue to unfold the next morning when we wake to a dusting of virgin fresh beneath bluebird skies. To gain a better sense of this resort's magnitude we join up with Don, one of the resort's complimentary Snow Hosts, who provides us with an overview while leading the way. With sixteen lifts and 2,765 ski-able acres (1,147 hectares), there's a lot of groundwork to cover!
"Both this Ridge Rocket and adjacent Snow Ghost Express will take us above the tree line," Don explains, as we ride the high-speed quad. "And from there we'll have lots of alpine terrain."
We soon find out that this knowledgeable guide is true to his word. The vast powder heavens are scored by a network of trails and dotted with winterized snow ghosts. And from every scenic perch that Don escorts us to, we're given a run-down of our downhill options and a Monashee panorama.
One son eventually breaks away from the group to ascend the T-bar and two others snake their way through wooded glades to the base of Gem Lake Express. We're surprised that our hot dog daughter, Emily, and her husband, Jeff, don't tag along with either. Usually they take on everything from vertical chutes to mogul minefields. Instead, they join us slower pokes, and with Don in the lead, we enjoy a number of corduroy cruisers.
That's the great thing about Big White-there's always an easy way out, so that a family like ours, with varying ages and abilities can enjoy skiing together. During our two days of downhill, there are no lengthy line-ups and no need for crowd control-just that epic interior powder, topped off with personable service.
On the final night, we celebrate family togetherness over a fabulous meal. And though it's perfectly paired with a fine Okanagan wine, Emily refrains from indulging. "We'd like to give a toast," Jeff affirms, raising his glass. "Here's to Big White and big families," he continues, while smiling at his wife. "And here's to grandchildren, one which is finally on the way."
IF YOU GO:
PHOTOS by Brent Cassie
1 Ski in ski out accommodation dots the hillside
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