Review of Big White

12th March 2007 by Tim Perry 

We visited Big White last season (in February 2006), and we were so impressed with the resort on that visit that we decided to give it another go this year, and went along in February 2007.

Following on from staying at the rather disappointing Inn at Big White last year (small rooms and the building is starting to look rather dated), we decided to move slightly upmarket, and this time stayed at the fairly new Towering Pines condos. For the three of us we had a superb apartment consisting of a double bedroom with en-suite bathroom, twin bedroom, second bathroom (all of this on the upper floor); and a huge lounge, very well equipped kitchen and a toilet on the lower level. From the lounge there was a large balcony with private hot tub. All the furnishings in this apartment were of high quality, and it really was a home from home. The hot tub was especially well received, and acted as a perfect way of unwinding from a hard days skiing. The location of the apartments is ideal - at the start and end of the day you simply cross the road and you are on a ski slope. It is also only a two minute walk to the village centre.

Rather than describing all the resort features, which are well covered in the chapter anyway, I will simply emphasise the good and bad points of the resort, together with any changes for this season.

The period we were there started with the resort suffering from a relative snow drought - only a dusting of snow in the week leading up to our arrival. Our fears were soon allayed however, when we first placed our skis on the slope - what was described as packed snow was still as good as anything we have ever experienced in Europe, and venturing off-piste revealed the champagne powder for which the resort is famous.

Fresh powder came (and huge quantities of it during the 9 days), and this only added to the pleasure of skiing on well-groomed, picturesque tree-lined runs. For the more adventurous a large number of runs are left ungroomed for days at a time, to give superb mogul runs. The piste signing at the top of every lift makes it easy to decide what type of run you want to undertake for your route down the mountain.

The resort was actually quite crowded during the period we were there, but you would never have known this judging by the crowds on the slopes - the longest wait we had for a lift for the entire 9 days was probably one minute, and any sign of there being a bottleneck at a lift is soon resolved with the lift operators marshalling the queues, and ensuring the singles line takes up any gaps on the chairs. The majority of the time we simply skied straight to the lift gates and were on our way up for another run. Similarly on the runs, it was common to not have another skier in sight, allowing a perfectly relaxing days skiing at your own pace.

As has been reported, the resort suffers from there being a lack of mountain restaurants, but we used the Ridge Rocket Café, at the bottom of the Ridge Rocket and Snow Ghost chairs, every lunchtime, and this served our needs very well - it is easily reached from most parts of the mountain, and offers an excellently varied choice of hot and cold meals at reasonable prices.

New for this season is the Snow Ghost Express six-pack lift. This is situated right next to the Ridge Rocket Express four-man chair, and at the top you come out only 50 metres or so above the top of the Ridge Rocket Express. The need for this lift seemed a little puzzling, until we discovered from a local that planning permission has bee granted for a large new hotel in the car park next to this new lift.

In the village itself we did not find any changes from the previous year, with no new restaurants or facilities. Our particular favourite restaurants were Snowshoe Sam’s - excellent food and very friendly staff (and don’t forget to have the Gun Barrel coffee!); and if you fancy pushing the boat out The Kettle Valley Steakhouse, down in Happy Valley. This is not cheap, but the food was superb, there was an amazing choice of fine wines, including some surprisingly quality local wines, and the service was top-class. A disappointment was Franks Chinese Laundry - we went at the weekend, during which time the restaurant does a buffet, and we found the choice extremely disappointing, and the drinks service very slow.

Another activity we undertook which is worth mentioning is the Snowmobiling, which runs from down the Happy Valley. It is not for the faint-hearted, as you race along narrow trails though the trees, but was great fun, and if you take the four o’clock trip, does not need to compromise your days skiing.

We went there via American Ski, who were able to tailor our holiday to our exact needs, and at a cost comparable to the trip we had the previous year via Crystal to a far inferior residence.

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