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Skiing Western CanadaJanuary 2, 2009 By: Michael Browne Travel Agent
Great slopes and accommodations dot the mountains of this region
For vacationers looking to spend some time on the slopes, Western Canada offers the ideal location. The glacier-clad Canadian Rockies region alone has six top winter resorts, plus most of Canada’s snowcat, helicopter and backcountry skiing operations. Incorporating the Rockies, the Purcells, the Columbia and the Monashee Mountains, this region is blanketed season-long by deep, dry powder.
Panorama Mountain Village
In British Columbia, Panorama Ski Resort, which is framed by the Canadian Rockies and the Purcell Mountains, is known for its immense mountain and true slope-side lodging.
Panorama also has the best mountainside village in the Canadian Rockies: a pedestrian village with a variety of restaurants and post-ski options, including the giant Panorama Springs Hot Pools. The village is built for walking and has all the trappings of a high-quality destination resort: walk-to-lift accommodations, high-speed quad chairlifts and a relatively easy international gateway airport—Calgary International Airport (YYC) is the principal gateway serving all major carriers and ground transportation options (three-hour drive southwest from Calgary). Motorcoach transportation from the airport is available upon request, if booked 30 days prior to arrival. To book, call Panorama’s Transportation Coordinator at 250-341-4193.
Panorama Mountain Village is currently offering a special two-vacations-for-one deal: Book your clients for at least two nights from February 11 to 22 or March 23 to April 3, and they can receive a free three-night stay at another date. Details can be found at www.panoramaresort.com/accommodation/deals_packages/winter_packages/2_for_1.htm. Travel agents can call 800-663-2929 for more information.
Another option for skiers headed to British Columbia is Whistler/Blackcomb, in the Coast Mountain Range north of Vancouver. Two mountains, Whistler and Blackcomb, rise up a mile out of the valley (5,280 feet) and access more than 7,000 acres of prime mountain terrain—including 12 alpine bowls, three glaciers and more than 200 marked trails. Some of the lengthier trails on Whistler Mountain include the Dave Murray Downhill, one of the world’s premier downhill racecourses; and Franz’s, named for Franz Wilhelmsen, one of the founders of the Garibaldi Lift Company, who originally developed the trails in Whistler. Over on Blackcomb, Couloir Extreme and Blackcomb Glacier are two of the more renowned runs, both originating in the high alpine region of the mountain. Whistler and Blackcomb competed with each other for two decades before merging in the spring of 1997.
Whistler Mountain hosts World Cup ski and snowboard races at the beginning of the season, while Blackcomb is the site of the World Cup freestyle competition in early January. (One of the novelties of summer is to watch freestyle skiers practice their routines at the foot of Blackcomb in a specially designed outdoor swimming pool). Both mountains share a common statistic: an average annual snowfall of 30 feet.
Clients can choose to stay in a number of locations around Whistler, including the Mountainside Lodge in Whistler Village, just 60 seconds from the slopes. This European-style pedestrian village is graced with an abundance of fine restaurants and unique shops. The Lodge offers a collection of intimate studio, spacious one-bedroom and lofted suites that feature fully appointed kitchens, gas fireplaces and jetted hot tubs.
The Crystal Lodge is also in the heart of Whistler Village. Its central location allows clients easy access to all that Whistler has to offer, including three restaurants, a lounge, two coffee shops and several retail stores right in the building. It is just steps from the base of Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains, and from the Telus Conference Centre.
The Crystal Lodge has a large variety of accommodation choices to meet the needs of each individual, group or family, from its comfortable traditional hotel rooms (choice of King or Double/Double) to its newly renovated Deluxe Rooms (choice of King or Queen/Queen). For more luxury, guests can choose a Loft Room, Junior Suite or one luxurious Two- or Three-Bedroom Suite. Many rooms include a fireplace, full kitchen and balcony. The hotel also offers dog-friendly rooms.
Travel agents can use the GDS for bookings; contact General Manager Bryan Pilbeam at 604-932-2221, or [email protected].
The living area of the two-bedroom Loft Suite at Adara Hotel
For high-end clients, the Adara Hotel is Whistler’s first and only member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Steps away from the village’s best restaurants and nightlife, the designer boutique hotel allows clients to choose from four distinctive room configurations, featuring spa-like bathrooms, luxurious beds, “floating” fireplaces and artful design details—Superior King/Queen; Deluxe One-Bedroom Suite; One-Bedroom Loft Suite; and Two-Bedroom Loft Suite. All rooms offer stunning views of either the mountains or the village. Adara has a variety of bed-and-breakfast packages available, and commissions are 10 percent for agents.