The words “winter wonderland” have become cliché, but this is what Big White Ski resort is – a Canadian winter wonderland. If you want the Canadian winter experience without the punishingly freezing temperatures, this is the place to come.
I’m coming to the end of my run. I’ve gone from top to bottom with only one fall. Progress! As I round the final corner I happen upon a scene which couldn’t get more Canadian if tried: Ahead of me are a group of guys playing hockey on the ice, and as far as the eye can see are snow covered spruce trees broken up by couple of snow-covered lakes, and more mountains in the distance.
Hiding amongst the vast swath of forest are a bounty of wineries, fruit farms, and cattle ranches. Big White is located in the Okanagan – Canada’s answer to the Napa Valley. This is reflected in the menus of the restaurants and bars of the resort – as much as possible come from the local larder.
Big White is a ski-in ski-out resort 250 miles North West of Vancouver in British Columbia. It’s a small self-contained resort with a warm and friendly atmosphere. When we arrived at our hotel, The Inn at Big White, – tired, snow-covered, and clutching our boards after a day on the mountain – the enthusiastic staff welcomed us and took all our bags from the car to our retro room. On the bed was a little handwritten note from the house keeper with a little joke. She left us a note with a joke or a fun little fact every day – a nice personal touch.
The décor could do with a bit of updating, and I have no idea why there was a VCR in the room – though it did bring with it some nostalgia for my Disney videos I had back in the 90’s. I wouldn’t have thought that in the second decade of the new millennium anyone would even bring DVDs on holiday, let alone video tapes – all you need is your laptop, an internet connection (they do have free WIFI) and a subscription to Netflix.
The view, however, was to die for. It looked out over a snow-covered valley, and one of the lifts went from right outside the hotel. Who needs TV? Apparently the boyfriend did – as soon as we got in he put a hockey game on.
For dinner we went to the Kettle Steak House. Two things you must to try if you dine here – the charcuterie, which is all made in-house, and the Cowboy steak. It has to be the biggest steak I’ve ever had. Wash this down with some local wine – and if you are looking to splash out, try the Blue Mountain sparkling wine. For a more reasonable priced option, though, try the Spearhead Pinot Noir.
The next day, the boyfriend and I tried out ice climbing. I rock climb on a semi-regular basis, so I have some basic climbing skills. However, I was not prepared for how physically hard it was to get myself up that 60ft wall – being scared of heights didn’t help either. In fact, I didn’t make it all the way to the top. I did enjoy it,though, and would do it again in a heartbeat.
That evening the boyfriend and I sat in the outdoor hot tub, as it snowed heavily and the mercury dropped to below -10. The stunning view and the hot bubbling water made it easy to forget the cold. The next day, we got to experience some of the legendary champagne powder the area is famous for. I remembered why I loved snowboarding so much.
Big White has to be one of my favourite ski resorts. It’s big enough for it to take you a few days to explore the entire mountain, and small enough that the same friendly faces say hello. All – from the staff to the guests – are there to enjoy the slopes. There is little posing and it’s all about enjoying yourself no matter whether you ski, board, or to sit in the hot tub.