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By Jane Cassie
For Travel Writers' Tales

When our five children were young, choosing the perfect holiday was a challenge and, with an age span of eleven years, reaching consensus was not an easy task. But because they had grown up close to ski lifts and had all made the successful transition from baby booties to ski boots, whenever a mountain getaway was suggested, we'd inevitably get a ten-thumbs up approval.

Fast track a couple of decades; all offspring are now adults and living independently, ranging in age from twenty-five to thirty-something. A couple are still single, three have significant others and none yet have babies of their own. We're hopeful -but I'll leave that for a future story. This one's about planning another family retreat. And what do you think gets the unanimous vacation vote? You guessed it -a resort with those fresh powder slopes.

My husband, Brent, and I go into Google mode in search of a winter playground with family accommodation that won't break the bank -and I'm not surprised when Big White Ski Resort pops up at the top of the list. Our last visit to this Okanagan mountaintop, 56 km (35 miles) from Kelowna's hub, had been fourteen years ago, just before they were launching Project 2000, a thirty-five million dollar expansion. "It was big then." I comment, while fondly recalling the trip.

"Well it looks even bigger now." Brent replies, after scanning the web site. "As well as earning accolades for hosting the most ski in/ski out accommodation, it's the second largest ski resort in our province."

Images and further stats on the site also affirm that Big White has rightfully earned its title. The 2,765 acres (1,147 hectares) of skiable terrain and twenty-five kilometers (15.5 miles) of pristine Nordic trails are backed by the majestic Monashees and annually cloaked in seven hundred cms (24.5 ft) of champagne powder. There are sixteen lifts that whisk adventure-seekers to a number of scenic summits and a total of a hundred and eighteen runs that offer a divine descent. "And the downhill continues long after the sun sets," I comment, when reading that this mountainscape's night-skiing is rated the best in Western Canada. "With so many options there's something to suit every family -even our eclectic crew."

We can already envision our daredevil daughter and hubby making their gravity-defying signatures on a few of the steep-graded glades. A couple of sons and their significant others will zero in on the vast empty bowls where they can rub elbows with the stubby winterized evergreens a.k.a. snow ghosts. The one boarder is sure to try slithering the rails at the TELUS terrain park and our youngest will either tube the hillside on the Snow Coaster or go for a bird's eye view while attempting to climb the eighteen meter (60 ft) ice tower. And as for us? We'll be content sticking to the flawless corduroy cruisers that link each heavenly perch with the Happy Valley Adventure Centre and village below.

After scouting out the resort's three hotels and other accommodation options, we decide on Sundance, a slope-side collection of cabins, townhomes and condos with scads of family-friendly amenities: outdoor pool, hot tubs, movie centre, fitness room, even Club Sundance for the young tykes.

"A couple of two-bedroom suites in the main lodge should meet our need," I suggest when admiring images boasting cozy west coast décor. "Even though we have lots of dining options just footsteps away the fully-equipped kitchens in these units will help cut down the cost."

One-stop shopping is made easy through Central Reservations but before doing the final tally, we check out the site for any hot deals. "During Spring Break, kids stay and ski for free," Brent says, when scanning the line-up of cost-cutters. "Yes, but they have to be twelve or under," I reply. "And unfortunately none of our crew fit that category -who knows, maybe next year! But with a big group like ours, we likely fit the bill for Family Day?"

In honor of next month's provincial holiday Big White is going big. If we book two consecutive nights and ski days between February 8-14th, the next night and ski day is on the house. As well as pleasing our bankbook, it'll be a hit with our brood. With a quick click, the booking is made -no stress, no hassles, no waits -so unlike the earlier years of holiday planning. And another that'll undoubtedly generate the ten-thumbs up!


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Big White Ski Resort

Images - First two images, credit goes to Jane & Brent Cassie, others, credit goes to Big White Ski Resort

#1 Emily's inaugural run on skiis age 3 -photo credit goes to Jane Cassie
#2 Loving the slopes 2 decades later -photo credit goes to Brent Cassie
#3 BC Ski Resort with the most ski in ski out accommodation
#4 Boasting 2,765 acres of skiable terrain
#5 skiing the bowls where snow ghosts hang out
#6 Ice Tower offers a bird's eye view
#7 Slope-side Sundance property has all the family perks


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