Review of Sunshine Village

2nd March 2009 by saintrroy 

Visited Sunshine Village with my 5 year old boy end of April 2008. We stayed on the mountain at the Sunshine Inn. Let me begin by saying since I was at the time a novice skier (still a long way from “good” but working on it) and my son was pretty good, I initially booked three nights on mountain since did not know what to expect. Well, we extended our stay to the last possible moment, i.e. another three nights at the Inn, need I say more!

Fantastic place, there was so much snow everywhere and snow-storms coming in with fronts moving in and out with conditions ranging from incredibly dangerous whiteout conditions on the upper alpine open slopes (in those conditions, one can ski merrily in the heavily treed glades on the lower slopes) to brilliant sunshine with views to die for. Lift waits were non-existent as far as I could tell, and the vistas really are unbelievable. In North America, felt like the Himalayas on top of Lookout Mountain or Goats Eye.

There are really four mountains or ski areas, all outside your doorstep at the Inn: Goats Eye, Lookout (which goes over the Continental Divide and is partly in BC), Standish, and there is the Wawa bowl section. For novices heading towards intermediates, I could have skied another week easy. For experts, there are steep slopes, delirium dive, silver city, wild west (was not open when we were there), and for intermediates and beginners, lots of room. For jumpers, and all that, there is a terrain park (access a bit distant but not difficult - couple of lifts and then ski down to it), lots of steep faces to hop down, powder stashes everywhere, not easy for sure.

The ski school was incredibly accommodating towards my son. They have a six or seven year old age limit but agreed to try him out, and if he passed, he could stay for all-mountain skiing, otherwise would be banished to the day-care shindig. Well, he passed, and at the end of our stay, was a designated Black Runner (level 6) skier, i.e. could do every black diamond at Sunshine. He is still small and no major jumps or Delirium kind of thing for him (which is a good thing in Dad’s view). My boy is today a tremendous skier, and that week last year in Sunshine where he improved in leaps and bounds. Dad also made good friends with his ski instructor, Adrian and improved considerably.

Finally, the staff at the Sunshine Inn, were very helpful and took to my boy in a big way. They made the stay something to remember for the ages. My boy cried on our ride down en route to NYC, which is home - he wanted to “live” on the mountain! The food at the Inn was quite good and they accommodated my son, given usual kids’ unpredictability, very reasonably. Rooms are not large but comfortable and warm. Get one with a balcony, most facing Lookout have one, it’s worth it. Sunshine is not cheap though, but it’s not Deer Valley or St Moritz either. I find it hard to believe there is any ski-in/ski-out resort in North America which can compare, but will leave that debate to others.

Some things to note, staying at the Inn means one is dependent on the gondola ride (no vehicular access) which runs something like 830am to 5pm, so keep in mind, Calgary Airport is a good 2.5hrs away (you can make it faster but that’s pushing it), so plan accordingly. Banff is a quaint western town about 20mins away.
For families, Sunshine Village is an ideal locale. Also, access road to the base station where you get the gondola to the Inn and mountain base, can “seem dicey” since it’s directly in avalanche prone slopes, so it can be closed sometimes naturally.

If anyone is interested for a family video of Sunshine Village, there is one of us, made by our pals on Youtube:
(1st 9 seconds are upstate NY, rest is Sunshine Village, from the tops of Lookout and Standish)

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