Reviews of Big White, Canada

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  4.43 of 5  (7 reviews)
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TONKA
Reviews: 10
Canada
    3 of 5,  "Flat White"  23/06/2015 @ 02:12
Times Visited
6-15 Times
Review Detail
I spend quite a bit of time at Big White through work. Its a mountain that won't challenge the more aggressive non park rider. There is pretty much zero in bounds or slack worth talking about. If your into charging and not hitting park laps, STAY AWAY! You will not get tree runs or shoots here.
However if you like cruising fairly easy groomers and are progressing riding, its perfect. There is also the terrain park. Easily the best terrain park in this area. you'd have to drive a long way to get a better park. The big pipe is no more, but the beginner pipe is probably the most fun thing you can do on a snowboard. You feel like a superstar hucking high out the top of it.

The town itself is very, very messy... lots of young Aussies, Brits and a few decent pub/clubs that are pretty good if your into that kinda thing. Seasonal accommodation is definitely not cheap. There is a lot of money there and prices reflect that.
Avoid the hostel if you plan on ever sleeping and spring the extra few bucks for the hotel. parking and decent rooms are worth it.
It feels like a real big budget resort. winding roads up into the town are smothered in high end holiday chalets and your more likely to see families climbing out of a brand-new Range-Rover than a clapped out mum bus.
Locals in the area lovingly refer to Big White as Flat White or Big sh*te. Flat White because theres no steep terrain and its always cloudy/raining and Big sh*te for obvious reasons
Strengths
Park Park park... Its honestly so fun regardless of your park level
Hot Spots
Snow shoes Sam's. Awesome apres and pool table. Think its probably a bit cheaper for a beer or 2 as well.
Weaknesses
Terrain... Where is it? Could never make it my home mountain
Similar Resorts Visited
Any big money Family resort
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remora101
Reviews: 48
Australia
    5 of 5  04/04/2005 @ 14:31
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Price Paid
Road Trip
Booked Trip Through
Ski All America
Times Visited
Just Once
Review Detail
Big White in one word .... WOW!

By far the best resort we visited on our trip. As we drove up the resort a lynx ran across the road in front of us, and for once the camera was nowhere to be found!

The drive over from Fernie was about 5 hours and the last bit was quite windy as you come up into Big White! You pass the first lift quite early and continue up for a bit longer before you get near the centre of town!

We stayed at the Big White Chateau, which I can highly recommend, with our own lounge and fireplace as well as kitchen we could have stayed a lot longer!

Once we were in our hotel there was no use for the car, so it was parked in the parking below the hotel.

In the morning you put your board on and board down to the lifts which are below the main resort, and at the end of the day you can board back along the main street right back to your hotel! The main street is on the mountain and is covered with snow! Fantastic!

The terrain park is worth a big mention! With a super pipe and a beginner pipe, a boarder cross track, a full size park with jumps from expert to beginner! There where some pretty good riders there going big, but they were all quite friendly and approachable!
Strengths
Big White is the Largest ski in ski out resort in Canada!
Very good snow, even this year when other resorts were battling!
Known as the family resort there were still enough pubs to keep you happy!
Excellent terrain park!
Hot Spots
Swiss Bear Restaurant
Snowshoe Sams
Weaknesses
Um ...... couldn't stay longer
Similar Resorts Visited
Verbier, Val dIsere, Meribel, Les Diblarets, Villars, Leycin, Hopfgarten, Kicking Horse, Fernie, Lake Louise, Whistler, Winter Park, Copper Mountain, Tignes.......
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Stuart
Reviews: 37
Review Mod
Kirkcudbrightshire
    4 of 5  01/04/2005 @ 22:32
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Price Paid
n/a
Booked Trip Through
Road Trip
Times Visited
Just Once
Review Detail
After leaving Kicking Horse we drove via Revelstoke and over the magnificent Rogers pass to Big White. This took us about 4 hours with a stop in Revelstoke to pick up a few things and with traffic quite busy when we got to Kelowna.
It was nearly dark when we got to the turn off road up to Big White and it seemed to take an eternity to get to the village even though i was booting the 4x4 on a bit quicker than i should have been ! The first place you pass is the Gem Lake base area and its then another 10 mins drive up to the village. There is a central reservations area if required but we just drove on up to the Inn at Big White,parked at the door,unloaded our kit,checked in and then parked the vehicle in the Hotels underground carpark (Free to residents).

The first thing that i really noticed about Big White was that most of the staff were Aussies, whether they were lifties,working in Restaurants,Hotels or bars or in any other of the resorts service sectors - no matter where you went it felt like you were "down under" rather than in Western Canada !
Even in the Chinese Restaurant ( Franks Chinese Laundry) all the staff were from Australia,and liked to talk about it too.
The village itself is quite well laid out and its easy to get around. A gondola takes you from the centre down to the Happy Valley Lodge area where there is an Ice rink (closed on our visit as it was melting with the warm temps) and the tubing park ( C$ 15 for 2 hours) which was great fun. This is where we also went on a late afternoon snowmobile tour which lasted a couple of hours ( including free time to do what you want with the machines....brilliant). The views were back towards the ski area were pretty impressive. The Happy Valley Lodge also has a large restaurant and bar with big screens to watch sports on and also a good selection of beers on tap. There is also afternoon and evening entertainment on here as well.
There is still a lot of new building work going on at Big White,especially new Condos and it looks like the place is expanding rapidly.

At night "Snowshoe Sams" was always quite busy. They serve pretty good food,have a good selection of draught beers and have live music on quite a lot.We ate here a couple of nights and found it really good value.
We had dinner at the Powderkeg restaurant which is situated inside the Inn at Big White. The food was excellent but the waitress service was a joke. Firstly we had been told the previous evening that we had no need to make a reservation and that we would get a table without pre booking. Wrong, we turned up and were then asked if we had a reservation !
We were seated and then after ordering it was well over half an hour before the waitress returned with our main course...she had forgot the starters ! She was then very unhelpfull so when we left it was without leaving any tip at all and thats something ive probably never done before in North America. And to make matters worse this was our wedding anniversary !!
We also went to the "all you can eat" buffet night at Franks Chinese Laundry and it was very good and proved good value.
As for eating at lunchtime there is nothing up the hill. You have to come back to the base area where there are a good selection of places to choose from or you can go over to the Westridge Cafe at the Gem Lake area. This is a new modern large log cabin place with great big wooden tables,friendly and welcoming staff and good value although limited choice of food. They also have a selection of really great flavoured coffees. It was also a nice place to sit and chill outside in the sun !
Another good place for lunch was below the village at the Ridge daylodge which had quite a wide choice of food at reasonable prices and was a nice place to sit outside and people watch when the weather was fine.

This was Presidents week when we visited and i was not sure as to how busy it would be. I had no need to worry as compared to most places in Europe it was very,very quiet. There were a lot of visitors from Washington state who had come up because of the lack of snow and closed resorts down there but it was still not busy.There were a lot of families here and a lot of young kids who were involved in lots of activities both day and night.It all looked very well organised and there was plenty going on to keep them entertained.It seemed to me that Big White was well geared up for and done a good job looking after families.

In the morning we had breakfast in our appartment which had a small kitchen area which was ideal for breakfast and for making a small snack but would not have been big enough for cooking a full dinner.We also had a large living area with seating and a dinning table and a big bathroom.
From the back door of the Inn you could strap in and head down to the lift and at the end of the day you could virtually ride back to the front door. We were only a short ride down to the Ridge Rocket Express ( quad chair) which quickly whisks you 3/4 of the way up the hill. From here there were any number of cruisy blue and green runs heading out in all directions. There were some nice wide and well groomed runs down to the Alpine T- bar or onto the Bullet Express (quad chair) and the Telus park chair (double) which gave easy access to the well planned and laid out Telus park. The park has two half-pipes, one of which is a huge super pipe,a boarder/skier cross course,a dual slalom course and then the main area down the middle with a wide variety of rails,boxes and kickers etc. Each feature was marked as beginner,intermediate and advanced so everybody had something to play on.The park has also got its own sound system so tunes blasted out throughout the day.

The week we were here was very springlike (although it was Feb),warm and sunny with no new snow !!! Canada was cruel to me this year.The base was still pretty good and had plenty of depth over most of the area though and the pistes were generally well groomed. There was still some decent sport between the trees but fresh snow was really needed to get the best out of the glades. Off-piste was still fun once the crud softened up towards lunchtime but our best fun was early in the morning. We always got up early each morning and had runs such as "Powder Gulch","Powder Keg","Corkscrew" and "Blackout" which are accessed from the Powder chair (triple) to ourselves and this allowed us plenty of space to carve at speed all the way down to the green traverse run known as " Ogo Slow" which ends up down at the Gem Lake Express and a welcome coffee at the Warming hut.
This long "green" known as "Ogo Slow" was very boarder friendly in that it had no "flats" and was not too narrow.
From the Falcon chair, "Grizzly run" (black) was worn and rocky so you had to be carefull in picking your route down.
"Whitefoot" and "Blue Sapphire" were my favourite runs on the hill. They were wide ,well groomed,quite steep and undulating.

The Gem Lake Express (quad) is the longest chair at Big White and is nearly 2.5 km long. It gives access to a wide range of Blue and Black runs. "BlackJack" was great fun and usually deserted although later in the week we had to watch out for worn and bare patches showing through !The new runs cut out through the trees to the left of the Gem Lake chair were closed as the base had tree roots and rocks showing through. They plan to clear this area a bit more during the Summer so this should be less of a problem next Winter.

At the other end of the area is the Black Forest Express (quad chair) which gives access to some nice cruisy Blues with some nice rolling undulations and also a few nice natural kickers at the edges of the runs. " Whiskey Jack","Bears Paw","Herberts Hollow" and " Cougar Alley" were all good fun.

Back up top the boarder friendly Alpine T-bar took you to the highest point of Big Whites terrain and allowed access to the "Cliff area" which has its own short two seat chairlift.The drops into the bowl were pretty worn and mogulled on our visit but would be much better fun with a fresh dump of snow.

Big White has night Skiing/Boarding with the Plaza chair,Park chair,Bullet Express and Village gondola all open until 8 or 9pm giving quite a a decent area plus the park to play in if you have any energy left.

To sum up then, Big White has got good boarder friendly lifts,nice long,wide and well groomed cruisy Blue and Green runs with very few flat areas where you would have to unstrap. There are a few challenging Blacks and also some Blues that are pretty close to being graded Black ( in my view anyway) and with fresh snow there is plenty of in-bounds off piste to explore and some fine glade runs too.
A week is well enough time to explore the whole area and any longer would find me getting bored but if you like your parks and pipes then you could happilly spend quite a lot longer here.
Its a great resort for families and is most certainly worth a visit. I will go back some day when i am in the area bit only for a few days......unless it snows heavily and then i might hang around to see the legendary "Snow Ghosts" !!!!
Strengths
Good Lifts.
Not many flat green runs.
Well groomed pistes.
Great Park (if you like that sort of thing)
Hot Spots
"Whitefoot" and "Blue Sapphire" runs early morning from Falcon Chair.
"Corkscrew" was also another top run.Quite long,quite steep and usually quiet.
Weaknesses
I wouldnt like to say it has many weaknesses but unless i had a bit of powder i would be bored after a few days.
Not a lot of challenging terrain.
Similar Resorts Visited
This place seemed quite unique to me !
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hotcheese
Reviews: 4
Canada
    5 of 5  03/01/2005 @ 02:07
Revision #1 (Last edited: 03/01/2005 @ 02:51)
Times Visited
Just Once
Review Detail
Here's a few random points in no particular order:

- The thing I like most about Big White is the terrain, there are gulleys and loads and loads of places to jump

- I was there for a week and it only snowed once unfortunatly and then only a few inches but the snow is great, light and fluffly and dry and if I'd had this little amount of fresh snow in any other resorts I've been to I've have been really disappointed and it could have spoiled things but it didn't really matter too much here, if you like going through fresh powder between the trees you'll like it here

- I was there during the christmas/new years break which is the busiest time of the year and while there were queues, especially at the ridge rocket lift if you travelled to the gem lake express it'd be quiet there. There was a strange phenonemun I've never seen anywhere before - there could be a hugh queue at the lifts but for about an hour between 12 and 1 the queue jut totally vanishes, everybody seem very predictable in their eating times. Speaking to regulars on the lifts they said it was only busy due to it being christmas.

-The village is a bit small, only one snowboard shop, one small food shop and not many restaurants. There's a bar or two but if you're used to somewhere like Whistler this place will seem tiny. Its very much a family oriented place.

- All the lifties, and bar/restaurant shop are aussies. The owner of Big White is an aussie himself and had a recruitment fair in Oz.

- A bad point is the fog, on the one day that it snowed the whole mountain was shrouded in fog. The snow was fantastic abut unfortunatly the fog really really spoiled the enjoyment of it. In all the other resorts I've been to if you get white out you know its just a band that you'll pass through eventually. Not so here, the white out band literally spanned the whole mountain from top to bottom. It was extreemly frustrating knowing there was fantastic snow but not being able to see a damn thing.

- There's 6 new runs this season for the first time at gem lake but they weren't open yet so can't say if they're any good.

- There's also a new chair lift - the cliff chair. If you like seriously steep this is for you. Also there's a new big park which has its own lift.

In summary I really liked Big White and will definatley be going back.
Strengths
dry fluffy snow
lots of natural jumps
Weaknesses
fog
not many restaurants
not many shops
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sunshine
lake louise
kicking horse
whistler
sun peaks
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simkin2
Reviews: 2
Hampshire
    5 of 5  02/06/2004 @ 17:30
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Times Visited
Just Once
Review Detail
We spent 2 months here in Feb/Mar 2004. Absolutely awesome resort and we would definately go back.

Snow:
Excellent - over the 8 weeks we were there it snowed at least once or twice a week. We had 3 really big dumps in that period, the best was 3 days of 20cm+ each day, mid-week and it was absolutely empty. The pistes didn't even get tracked until about mid-day and there was fresh snow in the trees all day. A whole week without snow is very rare so if you go for a fortnight you are practically assured some fresh tracks. The 2nd half of March we had a heatwave so it was very soft in the afternoon and hard in the morning which the locals said was unusual. Feburary is the best time to go.

White-outs:
The locals call it Big Whiteout, and fair enough it is often foggy - but 95% of the time it is only foggy because it is snowing. Personally I don't mind bad visibility if there is fresh snow coming down, and visibility isn't that much of an issue at Big White because there are so many gladed runs. We also had our share of sunny days, especially in the spring.

Lifts:
The lifts are well arranged and mostly fast modern quads with only one t-bar. The Ridge Rocket, Powder Chair and Black Forest all terminate at the tree line so you still have loads of options on bad weather days. Don't take the T-Bar in a whiteout because it is just white up there - the other lifts are okay, you only have a short decent until the trees start. The Black Forest is usually best if it is windy because it is quite sheltered. Gem Lake and Falcon chairs get shut occasionally due to high winds. The other lifts never closed all the time I was there.

Queues:
Mid-week (except Presidents week) there is no-one there - you can often do a run without seeing another person and never have to share lifts. At the weekend it can be quite busy - Ridge Rocket is the busiest chair. Powder and Falcon chairs never have queues but are old slower ones. Presidents week is the busiest time - avoid it if you can. That said - compared to other resorts it's not that bad, 10 minutes would be the absolute maximum waiting time and pistes are not crowded.

Glades:
The glades really make the resort. Basically, you can pick any stand of trees and just dive into it - everywhere is thinned enough and there is no undergrowth - slopes are consistent so you don't get stuck and it all leads back to the lift (except below Ogo Slow and Cliff Ski Out). You can find fresh powder in the trees several days after a snowfall. Some of the least tracked areas are: 1) Trees between the pistes off the Bullet Lift - for example to the right of Easter Gully. 2) Drop off Sleepy Hollow (very untracked). 3) Right off the top of the Black Forest Lift (for advanced riders) 4) To the right (as you descend) of the Black Forest lift line (my favourite). 5) Right of Cougar Alley (for beginners) 6) The newly planted area with small trees to the right of the Ridge Rocket lift (as you sit on it about half way up)

Pistes:
They groom quite a lot each night. There are natural hits everywhere. Some of the greens have short steep sections that would be Red in Europe. There are no cat tracks except at the top of the Gem Lake chair. Practically no flat bits.

Steeps:
The Cliff area is a good steep bowl (very steep and exposed at the top) but up until now required 3 lift rides to get back to the top after doing it. Next year it will have it's own lift. There are some other steep sections - right at the top of the Black Forest lift and the blacks at Gem Lake.

Out of Bounds:
The resort has no problem with people going out of bounds. People have died going over the back because there is no access road out and they got lost. The East Peak (next to The Cliff) is frequently hiked and comes back to the lifts. There are some out of bounds glades off the map to the left that go back to the Gem Lake Express but look out for cliffs and fallen trees. You can hire snowmobiles but the surrounding countryside is mostly flat.

Park:
The park is excellently maintained - the kickers and pipe are always perfect. The superpipe is the best maintained one I've seen - and one of the biggest. The parks were spread out when we went, but next year is going to be much better - they are making a massive park area with 2 pipes, expert and intermediate parks, boardercross, lodge and dedicated lift, all under lights (see
http://www.bigwhite.com/specials/041004release/demo.php). This year the setup was - Main park: Long straight rail, 3 perfect quite big tabletops, choice of apex rails. Rail Park: 10 fun boxes of various shapes including 4 flat ones in a row which is perfect for beginners + 2 kinked rails. Most of it was up and running when we got there beginning of Feb. Boardcross didn't open till march and they maintain it a lot less than the park - often closed too. There are some good kicker building spots off the back of the Bullet Express.

Night Skiing:
Tuesday to Saturday. Friday is the only busy night - quiet the rest of the time. Looks like the park will be open at night too from next season.

People:
The locals are very friendly and always chat to you on the lift. Not many Brits, lots of Aussies. About 50/50 skiers and snowboarders. More skiers at the weekends.

Night Life:
People don't come to Big White for the night life. That said, Raquels and Snow Shoe Sams are pretty lively most nights and open late. Beer isn't too expensive. Sometimes there are live bands. There are a few other places to drink too.

The Village:
Very small village. One of the worst things is the lack of a decent shop - the supermarket has the essentials but no fresh food. There is also a sweet shop and internet cafe ($10 per hour). There is a bus on Tuesdays to Kelowna (45 minutes drive) to get groceries. One day we hired a car and went to Silver Star and shopping in Kelowna (cost about $130 between 4). There are about 8 restaurants which are mostly expensive. Raquels does good cheap pub food. There is only one board shop and it is expensive with hardly any stock - go to Kelowna for gear.

Accommodation:
Big White is 100% ski-in ski-out. Staying right on the hill is fantastic. Some places can be 20min walk from the village which is rubbish for carrying groceries (we used to take a couple of carrier bags up on the lift and board down to our condo). We stayed in a long stay condo rented through http://www.ownerdirect.com. It slept 4 and cost about £10 per person per night - if you only stay for a few weeks though it would cost more. There is a hostel (http://www.samesun.com/big_white.html)

Getting there:
Fly to Vancouver or Calgary and then an internal flight to Kelowna. Fly with WestJet on the internal flight because they are cheap and good (Book online is cheaper than through your travel agent: http://www.westjet.com/). From Kelowna get a taxi ($90) or airport shuttle (more expensive if there are at least 3 of you). It's a long way from the UK so you really need 2 weeks at least.

Lift Tickets:
Check the website for latest prices (http://www.bigwhite.com). If going for 2 weeks then a season pass works out cheaper if you buy it far enough in advance.

Lessons:
I didn't have lessons but people I know who did were very impressed with the ski school. They also do an advanced snowboard afternoon lesson for about $50 with a max group size of 4 which is really good to learn pipe and park tricks. For beginners there are loads of wide pistes and the snow is soft.

Other Stuff:
There are lots of other activities - Ice skating, tubing, snowmobiling (good fun - you get to drive your own 600cc sled around the backcountry). The resort is quite family oriented with lots of activies for kids.

Silver Star:
This is a resort about 2hrs drive away worth visiting. The village is mid-mountain and even smaller than Big White. There are basically just 2 fast lifts that access an incredibly big area (plus a few smaller lifts). All the trails run through wooded areas (usually too dense for boarding through) and you often feel miles from a ski resort. There are some good double black runs on the back side. Big White lift tickets are valid here (except season passes - you need the dual mountain season pass which is about $70 extra). Once a week there is a day trip bus from Big White which is about $30 return.
Strengths

+ Regular snow falls
+ Big area with varied terrain
+ Glades are the best anywhere
+ Perfectly maintained pipes and park - next year park will have its own lift
+ Ski-in Ski-out
+ Couple of good pubs
Weaknesses

- Not much to buy on the mountain
- Scenary doesn't compare to places like Banff and Whistler because you are on the only sizeable hill for miles around.
- No nightclubs
Similar Resorts Visited
Whistler, Sunshine Village, Lake Louise, Silver Star, Most of New Zealand, Val Cenis
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