Planning your next Family Ski Vacation | Top 8 Tips

Planning Your Next Family Ski Vacation

Have you ever wondered the best way to plan your next family ski vacation in Canada?

Just Imagine your Perfect Ski Holiday

It’s the morning after your late arrival to your dream ski holiday. The time is 5:45am in the morning and your family is still sleeping in the chalet. Officially, your ski vacation hasn’t even begun yet and you’re already up and anxious to check out the surroundings before anyone else gets up.

  • Family gear already setup:
    • Skis, poles, boots, helmets, goggles – CHECK!
    • Your concierge delivered your ski passes – CHECK!
    • Oatmeal, fruit, and energy bars prepped and ready – CHECK!
Photo by Eugene Zhyvchik 

It’s time for a quick peek. You decide to go out into the village to check out the surroundings. You put on your favourite jacket and warm winter boots to take a morning stroll through the village. It’s a chance to experience the cool winter air while everyone is still snoozing in their comfy beds. It’s a great decision to stroll down the cobble stone walk way to the local coffee shop where they’re baking the morning’s fresh batch of bagels and croissants. Mmmmm. Picking up a coffee for you and your spouse seem like the sensible option.

Photo by Josh Hild
Photo by freestocks 

The keycard swipes the front door of your chalet and there it is: family members standing in their pyjamas peering out the slope-side chalet window at the wintery-scene… The window is steaming up from the anticipatory breathing… “let’s go, let’s go… can we be first on the chair lift?” It hits you – your decision to book your ski vacation now seems like the best decision of the year. You and your family deserve it!

What you’re dying to know from your hotel concierge when you arrive for your ski vacation.

It’s been many years of travel, work, and play that we have discovered the ski resorts of Canada. Every ski hill and mountain resort offers such an interesting array of features, amenities, and slopes for everyone to enjoy. Weather you’re a beginner, intermediate, advanced, or even Non-skier, the resorts in Canada have a great deal to offer and atmospheres to experience.

8 Tips for Planning your Next Family Ski Vacation

Book Early

There’s always last minute deals, but with most ski vacations, there are many moving parts to consider. Everyone is busy in today’s world and just coordinating family member schedules is a chore. The booking formula must account for school breaks, his/her vacation time-slots, kids’ march-breaks, booking the kennel for the family pets, and a myriad of other factors. Booking early can also improve your pricing depending on it being in the high-season or low-season of the resort. Early booking can also provide the best accommodation choices. Airline travel can be expensive at the last minute bookings. Book early and get your best price airline travel firmed up at the right price. Booking early can take the pressure off and get all those details sorted.

Planning Your Next Family Ski Vacation
Photo by bruce mars 

Choose resorts close to major airport

It’s the morning and our ski holiday has officially begun. Your family is up and completing their last minute packing. The car is warmed up and all the luggage and ski bags are ready to go. It’s early but everyone is anxious to get on the road and travel the quick 60 minutes to the airport. You arrive at your Valet or VIP parking (ok, Park n’ Fly 15 minutes away by shuttle) and make your way to the ticket kiosk where we check in our luggage and ski bags in the “oversized” luggage section. “Whewww, made it”. You make your way through the airport customs with our individual carry-on to wait for the plane’s departure. Ok, now grab a quick early breakfast with the family and wait for the boarding call for gate G7. (Bingo). The flight goes smoothly and after picking up your luggage at the baggage claim, you catch your 30 minute shuttle to the resort. Total time spent travelling today? 15 minute wake-up; 60 minutes drive; 3.5 hour flight; 15 minute baggage claim; 30 minutes to resort; 8 minute check-in = a little over five and a half hours (5.5). NOT BAD

TIP: Always keep you ski boots in your Carry-On. You can replace lost luggage for a variety of items, but renting ski boots is not a fun option on your ski vacation).

Movie Title - Planes, Trains, Automobiles

True Story: Ski Holiday begins with a 3am wake-up call; 90 minute drive to airport; 15 minute finding a parking space at the airport parking; 15 minutes waiting for the airport shuttle; 30 minute wait for airport breakfast; 90 minute wait for flight at gate AC26; 8 hour Norwegian-Air flight; 35 minute wait for hotel shuttle; 44 minute shuttle ride to hotel; 21 minute check-in process; 6am wake-up call; 12 minute wait for airport shuttle; 35 minute shuttle ride back to airport (2nd Flight); 90 minute wait for flight with Norwegian Air Gate-B25; 90 minute flight to next location; 8 minute wait for hotel shuttle; hotel room in Lindvallen/​Högfjället (Sälen) contains beds that are 5’5″ (really?); another 6am wake-up call; 55 minute bus ride to resort; 30 minute wait for lift tickets; 30 minute lift line… 11 minute chair ride to the top…

Perhaps next time booking a ski vacation closer to a major airport might be nice.

Ski-In, Ski-Out Accommodations

Imagine landing at a close-by airport with a quick shuttle to your slope-side condo. Underground parking for any of your friends that want to drop in, but really who cares about parking after arriving on the luxurious airport shuttle that includes a complimentary glass of your vino. You’ve already arranged a pre-checkin and the bell hop has already picked up your bags off the shuttle and arranging delivery to your hill-side accommodations. You enter the chalet to see a 3 bedroom, full-kitchen accommodations showcasing a large sliding glass door looking out onto your wintery deck facing the hill. Your luggage is being delivered to your chalet as you and your family run around claiming your bedrooms for the week’s holiday. You chill before dinner with a glass of wine looking out of the hill while the groomers’ lights prep the slope for tomorrow’s adventure. “Ya, Ski-in, Ski-out is where it’s at !”

Resort Accommodations - Ski-In, Ski-Out

Snow Matters / Terrain Choice

It really depends on what type of vacation you’re looking for. Is it a family holiday; perhaps a training camp; or a romantic getaway for two? In any case, you’ll want to make sure the resort is offering a variety of slopes and options when it comes to ski terrain and snow conditions. Grooming, powder, bumps, beginner area, access to all terrain by all family members would be great list of options.

Package Lift Passes with Accommodations

Booking early can also give you access to packaging your lift passes with the accommodations. Lift passes these days can range from as low as $37.50/day up to Vail Colorado’s $209/day. Combining these two services (Accommodations & Lift Passes) can greatly reduce your ticket pricing. Packaging the lift tickets also allows you to skip the ticket line each day saving you time and money.

Apres-Ski Options for the Whole Family

We all go on a ski holiday to enjoy the snow and slopes of the resorts, but today’s resorts have SO MUCH MORE. After a fun day on the slopes, it’s an added bonus to take part in the snowshoeing, Big-Tire biking, ice-skating, cross country skiing, tubing, shopping in the local boutiques, dining out with the family, games room, a dip in the pools, HotTubbing, Movie night, and much more. Rounding out your vacation with these activities seem to complete the adventure. The resorts have so much to offer for the entire family whether we ski or not.

Photo : Paul Esch-Laurent 
Photo: Simon Matzinger 
Photo : Yann Allegre 

Skip the Lift Lines (SnowSchool Lessons)

There are many ways to enjoy your ski holiday, but being able to ski anywhere on the mountain really opens a lot of possibilities. Improving your skiing so you can explore the entire mountain is something that we never forget. There you are at the top of the mountain looking out over a spectacular vista and thinking to yourself: Am I ever glad I took that lesson with Sven a couple days ago.” There are many ways to enjoy the resort and all that it has to offer. Being stuck at the bottom of the slopes because our ability prevented us (Physically / Mentally) from going ‘to the top’ of the mountain is not a fun option. Ski Instructors have an incredible passion to share their experience and tips & tricks that accelerate your learning curve. Imagine getting a few pointers that build your confidence and ability to manoeuvre the more challenging terrain. Imagine taking that two hour lesson and improving enough to venture to the top of mountain to witness a breathtakingly beautiful winter vista… “ahhhhh”. (Check out your Pros at PSIA & CSIA)

Ski Resort Summit
Photo: asoggetti 

Travel Light

Waiting for our luggage at the baggage claim can be a drag. Waiting for our luggage that never arrives ? – hmmm, bit a a pisser. Packing our bags with all the essentials doesn’t have to be a chore. Here’s a Packing List to assist us in the necessities.

Recap: (Planning your next Family Ski Vacation)

  1. Book Early
  2. Choose resorts close to major airports
  3. Terrain / Snow Matters 
  4. Stay on the mountain (Ski-In, Ski-Out) 
  5. Package Lift Tickets & Accommodations
  6. Apres-Ski Options for the entire Family
  7. Skip the Lift Lines / Book Lessons
  8. Travel Lightly / CheckList

One of Canada’s Top Destination Ski Resorts

Sun Peaks Trail Map
Sun Peaks – Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada

Sun Peaks Resort – Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada. This is resort is known for many unique features. Out of the 288 ski resorts in Canada, it is the 2nd largest with over 4,270 acres of terrain, 3 mountains (Tod Mountain, Sundance, and Morrisey), and a lift capacity of 13,600 riders per hour (WOW). This capacity up the hill means there is rarely a lift line (no really, it’s rarely crowded). Another unique quality about Sun Peaks is their Lifts. With a little guidance, all main chairs bring us to the top of the mountain where skiers of all abilities can find a suitable route down the mountain. This means no one is going to be stuck at the top of the wrong run. Beyond the physical mountain and resort operations, Sun Peaks is known for being one of the friendliest resorts in Canada. Everyone is always welcome regardless of their ability. Don’t worry if you just received a beautiful 80’s hand-me-down ski suit from Uncle Buck, you would still be welcomed and still ‘fit in’. It’s not about what you’re wearing, it’s about being there and sharing the joy of skiing.

As we stroll through the village, it’s easy to notice how many shops and restaurants there are and how easy it is to make our way from top to bottom. Apres-ski includes a large list of activities for the whole family. If we still have energy after a few days on the slopes, there’s a NHL-sized hockey rink; plenty of apres-bars and shops to browse. If that’s not enough, skiers can enjoy fat-bike rides, snow-tubing, snowshoeing, dog sledding, cross country skiing, and much more. Not limited to one type of accommodation, the resort has a variety of places to bag our heads from the ski-in/ski-out single-family homes, condos, and hotel rooms. If we still have energy after a few more days, the resort has a complete variety to terrain to choose from. Weather we’re a bump skier, racer, tree skier, or cruiser on the many groomed runs, it’s seems like there’s more slopes that endurance in our legs. Best of all, the resort 45 minutes from the Kamloops Airport.

Sundance Lodge - Sun Peaks
Coast Sundance Lodge – Sun Peaks

20 Canadian Ski Resorts (Out of 288)

Canadian Ski Resorts
20 out of 288 Canadian Ski Resorts

Map Links

AMarmot Basin – Jasper; BMount Norquay Ski Resort – Banff; CNakiska – Kananaskis Country; DSunshine Village – Banff; EBig White Ski Resort – Kelowna; FFernie Alpine Resort – Fernie; GKicking Horse Resort – Golden; HPanorama Mountain Resort – Invermere; IRed Mountain Resort – Rossland; JRevelstoke Mountain Resort – Revelstoke; KSilver Star Mountain Resort – Vernon; LSun Peaks – Kamloops; MWhitewater Ski Resort – Nelson; NMarble Mountain – Cornerbrook; OLe Massif – Petite-Rivière-Saint-François; PMont Sainte-Anne – Beaupré (Québec City); QMont Tremblant Resort – Tremblant; RSki Mont Orford – Orford; SSki Sutton – Sutton;TBromont Ski Resort – Bromont

Western Canada

Map Links

AMarmot Basin – Jasper; BMount Norquay Ski Resort – Banff; CNakiska – Kananaskis Country; DSunshine Village – Banff; EBig White Ski Resort – Kelowna; FFernie Alpine Resort – Fernie; GKicking Horse Resort – Golden; HPanorama Mountain Resort – Invermere; IRed Mountain Resort – Rossland; JRevelstoke Mountain Resort – Revelstoke; KSilver Star Mountain Resort – Vernon; LSun Peaks – Kamloops; MWhitewater Ski Resort – Nelson

Eastern Canada

Map Links

NMarble Mountain – Cornerbrook; OLe Massif – Petite-Rivière-Saint-François; PMont Sainte-Anne – Beaupré (Québec City); QMont Tremblant Resort – Tremblant; RSki Mont Orford – Orford; SSki Sutton – Sutton;TBromont Ski Resort – Bromont

Resort Links

Resource Links

With so many great ski resorts throughout Canada, isn’t it time to book your ski vacation? With a little planning and reviewing our checklists, the possibilities seem very real. Get out there and experience the joy of skiing

Remember what Warren Miller said: “If you don’t do it this year, you will be one year older next year.

“One of my first experiences at Sun Peaks was during a ski instructor course hosted by the Canadian Ski Instructors’ Alliance. I’ll always remember the day before the course started, we were skiing one of the more challenging runs. The powder was flying as we were ripping it up. All of a sudden, we slipped over the crest of the run and into the bumps we went. Not knowing there were any bumps under this huge blanket of snow, I continued at a quick pace. Then it happened. I hear a yell – “What the H*%(!’ My buddy wanting to keep on my tail didn’t see or feel the bumps and double ejection. After finding out he was alright, I couldn’t stop laughing. All he said he heard was “click-click’. Fun times, great memories.”

Andrew Elsdon

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