Snow Report: Western Canada gets the snow – again
Sunday 27 January 2013
The rise in popularity of western Canadian resorts among British skiers has slowed a little recently. The strength of the Canadian dollar means it no longer offers much of a saving on its US equivalent, and rising transatlantic airfares have added to the perception that there is less value to be had. However, for the second year in a row, Alberta and British Columbia have reported abundant powder snow, while south of the border in Colorado, the snow has so far arrived by the inch rather than the foot, again repeating the pattern of last winter.
In an effort to boost British interest, some Canadian resorts have been launching all-inclusive deals similar to those popular in the Alps. For example, Inghams (01483 791114; inghams.co.uk) can provide seven nights in the three-star Great Divide Lodge, Lake Louise, including scheduled flights from London, transfers, lift passes, rentals, daily cooked breakfasts and three-course dinners with wine or beer included for £1,454 per person, departing on 23 February.
You can also find an affordable side of Canadian skiing by looking beyond big names such as Banff and Whistler, and considering the dozen or so slightly smaller areas offered by UK operators. You may not have heard of them but, thanks to investment over the past decade, they are now complete ski destinations in their own right.
Kimberley (001 403 533 3611; skikimberley.com), for example, which is also available through Inghams, offers great accommodation thanks to the construction of the Trickle Creek Lodge, an apartment complex with spa and restaurants, located at the base of the slopes. A fast quad chairlift whisks you to the top of the pistes in a few minutes. I've never been to a resort where getting on the piste is so effortless. The nursery slopes are next to the base of that chairlift; there's a good terrain park halfway down the slopes, and from the top of the chair you have myriad options – from long, smooth cruisers back down, to steep and deep off‑piste tree skiing. (Just turn right.)
The old town of Kimberley, a few miles beneath the ski area, is a wonderful après-ski option – a pleasant contrast to the bland modern creations for which many North American ski areas are known. In what was originally a mining town inhabited by Bavarian immigrants, you'll find the bizarre sound of recorded oompah band music playing from cafés selling frankfurters and Viennese schnitzel in the shadow of Canada's largest cuckoo clock. But rather than slowly dying, this quirky character has attracted new money – and some great restaurants.
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