Aussies love an excursion to British Columbia, Canada. It’s a safe destination, aesthetically pleasing, relatively easy to get to and everybody speak-a-da-English. When someone we know trots off to check out a new ski resort it’s always a big help to get the low down to save ourselves the trouble or to book ourselves a ticket quick smart.
In this case a large group of Sydney-siders did the dirty work for us and share their collective views:
An easy family-friendly place. The village was pretty and safe to walk around. A handful of restaurants and opportunity to join various tours lent itself to create a memorable ski get-away.
Sydney to Vancouver via Air Canada was fairly pain-free. The internal transfer to Kamloops was made easier by being inside the same airport without having to check out baggage and check everything in again, (as is often the case with Los Angeles transfers). This is a Godsend travelling with children when every little big of assistance with baggage and convenience counts. A shuttle bus from the airport to the hotel upon arrival completed the door to door process.
Snow conditions and runs
Early February 2013 was apparently the ‘worst snow they’d seen in a while’, which makes comparing conditions and runs difficult. Grooming was, in the words of these experienced skiers ‘fancy pants grooming’, which is high compliment. The Sun Peaks black runs were not considered ‘black enough’, it was noted that they could have been more difficult. On the other hand, ‘runs were so family friendly you could ski pretty much every run’. Lots of blue runs, green runs, jumps and trees made it a good resort for beginner and intermediate skiers.
The Aussie crew
Coast Sundance Lodge was ‘perfect’ with a poma lift straight out the front of the hotel. It represented great value for money, according to Sun Peaks repeat visitors who have stayed in other hotels on the hill, due to the convenience of the location. Rooms being serviced daily was a good change for those more accustomed to self-contained style accommodation. It was surprisingly noted that there was NO DRYING ROOM IN THE HOTEL – Eek and egads – which meant guests wore boots up to their rooms and hung everything up in wardrobes. Luckily everything dried quickly (kids gloves a little trickier) but guests had to get the room heat-drying temperature right. A tricky balance for claustrophobics or those prefering their hotel room air fresh and cool.
Baby boomers, intermediates and intergenerational families. Not ideal for honeymooners or singles looking to party. Adrenalin junkies seek your mountains elsewhere.
Limited for nightlife. The Steakhouse was great with each meal eliciting a ‘wow’ from theses particular Aussie chowers. Italian proved the best to take the kids for a feed. Powderhounds had great schnitzel. Bottoms Bar had standard fare but you can take the kids there until 8pm was handy.
These Aussies make a habit out of leaving a money trail in all the major Canadian and USA ski resorts so have plenty to compare to over the years. This was the area of Sun Peaks that received the worst marks on this particular report card. Instructors were ‘friendly and fabulous’ but managerial rules and rigidity left this bunch of Australians who run their own businesses shaking their heads. The lack of flexibility to put siblings or family friends together proved a strain for families who turned to alternatives that weren’t always the most convenient for parents who wanted to ski beyond noon. Quite often for international skiing families the ski lessons serve as the most expensive part of the ski trip, so a little bit of ‘give and take’ as goodwill goes beyond the credit card bills when you get home. A 24 hour cancellation policy for a kids ski lesson that doesn’t turn a blind eye to being FIVE minutes outside this time frame does not go down well. Particularly when there are other resorts who give large discounts for groups or special services for families looking to maximise their ski experience.
Would you go back? And what would you do differently?
Yes. This group was keen to go back, but the ‘younger families’ in their thirties with kids would not race back for next year. The next visit to Sun Peaks will be scaled down to 10 days in future (instead of 22 days total) and split with another resort for a change of scenery. Entertainment for this age group was considered ‘not enough to keep you going’ , and 22 days straight got skiers feeling ‘a bit bored’ and ready to move on. They were pleased with reports that ski terrain is expanding in the near future. On a future trip they would do a more significant grocery shop on the first day, after discovering the alternative to the mini-supermarket in the village would cost them $40 per person each way on weekends only just to access a larger range of groceries.
Older baby boomer skiers found their mecca in Sun Peaks. The safe predictability, convenience and friendliness sold them. These were not the skiers needing to tuck little ones into bed and more likely turned to restaurants for their nightly dining rather than needing to cook for the kids. The $76 a day lift tickets (3+ days $72) way cheaper than the States’ resorts in general is a big drawcard.
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