Big White ski resort, in British Columbia, is well known for its odd-shaped “snow ghosts.” // (c) 2013 Greg Olsen
A breeze is blowing as I near the summit of Big White Ski Resort in Kelowna, British Columbia (B.C.), on the aptly named Snow Ghost Express Chairlift. From my position about 50 feet above the ski run, I can easily make out the shapes of dozens of snow ghosts — frigid, spectral creations of snow and ice found only on certain mountains in the Canadian Rockies. In a moment, I will exit the chairlift and wend my way down the mountain, weaving around of these massive snow formations. The only thing that can make this day better is the spa visit I have planned for later this evening.
The Canadian Rockies are home to some of the world’s best skiing, along with amazing spa resorts, and Canadian ski-spa holidays have become increasingly popular in recent years. Here are four of B.C.’s best ski-spa destinations and resorts to recommend to clients who are looking for an incredible ski experience combined with first-class pampering off the slopes.
Big White is the second-largest ski resort in British Columbia and is home to Canada’s largest night skiing area. A well-designed resort, it is famous for its snow ghosts and for the large number of ski-in/ski-out accommodations. The Beyond Wrapture Day Spa, located at Chateau Big White, is one of the best in the area. The spa is most famous for its grape-based Vino-therapies — a natural complement to the viticulture in this region of Canada.
Fernie Alpine Resort lays claim to the highest snowfall of any resort in the Canadian Rockies, with up to 37 feet annually. The ski hill features 142 named runs on 2,500 skiable acres of terrain, but it’s the powder skiing that makes this destination legendary. Island Lake Catskiing provides one of the best luxury backcountry catski (using a Snowcat to get access to backcountry ski areas) experiences in the world, combined with luxury accommodations and an onsite spa with five treatment rooms, relaxation rooms, a couples’ wellness room, a Japanese soaking tub, a hot tub and a cool spring shower.
Silver Star Mountain Resort is located just outside the city of Vernon. With an average annual snowfall of 23 feet and a total of 115 marked runs, the downhill and cross-country skiing are excellent. What really sets the area apart as a ski-spa destination is the Sparkling Hill Resort. Owned by Gernot Langes-Swarovski, former head of the Swarovski crystal company, the resort incorporates 3.5 million Swarovski crystals into a stunning architectural masterpiece. The onsite KurSpa embraces a European approach to health and wellness. There are seven unique aromatherapy saunas and steam rooms, experience showers, an indoor pool with underwater music and a starry Swarovski crystal sky, a hot pool, an outdoor infinity pool, a fitness studio and relaxation rooms. The resort has packages that pair skiing and heli-skiing with spa treatments.
Host site for the alpine skiing events of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, Whistler-Blackcomb is one of the largest and most accessible ski resorts in North America. A highlight of the ski area is the 2.7-mile peak-to-peak gondola that connects the peaks of Whistler and Blackcomb. There are many amazing resorts and spa facilities in Whistler Village, but one of the best is the Four Seasons Resort Whistler. The Spa at Four Seasons Whistler is the largest in the area and one of the most luxurious. It features 14 treatment rooms and customized treatments using local products such as Pacific Coast seaweed and B.C. glacial clays.