Uncork the fun: Champagne powder and wine await at the family-friendly ski resorts in the Okanagan
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While the kids play pond hockey in the mid-mountain village, powder hounds seek freshies among the snow ghosts in the glades. In the backcountry, cross-country skiers wind along endless trails from the ski-in, ski-out at area resorts.
Minutes away is the vast Okanagan Valley, think Niagara region but with mountain peaks, where wine connoisseurs can meander along scenic Highway 97, stopping in some of the dozens of Western Canadas world-class wineries.
The Okanagan in B.C.'s beautiful interior region, is known for summertime fun with beaches and boating, but once the snow flies, everyones attention shifts to the snow-covered mountains. SilverStar Mountain Resort near Vernon, B.C., and Sun Peaks Mountain Resort near Kamloops, are two of the favourites for families wanting a variety of activities and deep champagne powder.
What started in 1958 as a ski area for the locals, SilverStar has kept the charm of a small resort. It could be the little village main street, it could be the mining town theme of brightly painted facades or the friendliness of the people. Or, a combo of them all. The best part? There are activities for everyone anytime, anywhere without the need of a car.
SilverStar is B.C.'s third largest ski area (next to Sun Peaks and Whistler Blackcomb) with 132 marked runs across four mountain faces. The breakdown of skiable terrain is 15% easy, 40% intermediate, 35% most difficult and 10% left for the extreme skiers. Everyone can find something for their level of ability without stumbling on the next skier or boarder.
Snow guns? Not here. SilverStar receives more than seven metres of snow annually making the glades on the backside the treasure chest of the resort. The only place you'll see a maker of any sorts is at the skating rink in the village where the Zamboni smooths the ice for the daily games of shinny.
Shinny or ice climbing anyone?
Relaxing is what you do after a ski vacation. At SilverStar there's never a dull moment. Staying in the village accommodations, from hotels to private home rental, there are plenty of activities to wear everybody out.
When you're done skiing for the day, slap on some skates for a quick game of shinny on the frozen pond or learn to ice climb at the ice climbing wall. Maybe a loop on the fat tire biking trail is in order or for some high-octane action, go on a snowmobile tour. For the ultimate adventure, look into heli-skiing to make tracks in the thickest powder possible.
For quieter times, maybe hop on a horse-drawn sleigh. Or, how about a ride in the snowcat to a romantic dinner in a secluded hut near the mountain peak? If you've still got energy, check out pubs like the Final Run or 1609.
Adult downhill training camps
SilverStar's team of coaches will improve everyone's skills. The kids can learn to make pizza pies while adults kick up their ability at adults-only camps. Adults are invited to refine their black diamond prowess in performance clinics or live out that Crazy Canuck fantasy at the Over the Hill Downhill Training Camp. Attend the January training camp and learn what it takes to be a downhill racer. Just like the real races, you'll be coached by the finest, do qualifying runs, compete on closed courses and stand on the podium, because you just won a downhill race! How cool is that?
Main street is the hub of the action where you purchase your tickets, rent gear and plan your apres ski coffee, lunch, supper and par-tay. Thirty metres from the end of the street you can slap on the boards and head for the lifts. Accommodations are all a walk or ski away with nine hotels and lodges as well as a variety of rental chalets and condos to suit almost every budget.
Vernon minutes away
If you choose to take a day off the slopes, head to Vernon only 30-minutes from the resort. Happening places include the Marten Brewing Pub, the Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery and the craziest doughnuts youve ever sunk your teeth into at Ratio Coffee. Or, take a tour and tasting at more than 170 wineries, because the Okanagan has more than 80 per cent of the total vineyard acreage in B.C.
SilverStar Mountain Resort is less than a 30-minute drive from Vernon, B.C. Fly into Kelowna International Airport, just 55 minutes to the resort. Rental cars and shuttles to SilverStar are available at the airport.
If You Go