By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com
My whirlwind odyssey to learn about the renaissance of British Columbia’s indigenous heritage takes me to Whistler-Blackcomb, the world-famous ski resort. The mountain resort, one of the largest in North America, is on First Nations land and is where a cultural center, a joint endeavor of the Lil’wat and the Squamash nations, has opened.
I hop the Skylynx shuttle bus, packed with skiers, that leaves from the Hyatt Regency Vancouver downtown (also close to the Bill Reid Gallery and the Fairmont Hotel) for a pleasant, scenic two-hour ride to Whistler Village Centre.
The skiing even this late in the season looks fantastic but I am here to continue my study of the indigenous heritage – past and present – that permeates this place. The spirit is very strong here in Whistler. While the skiers all head to the gondola, I find my way to a trail that leads to the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre.
The idea for a world-class cultural center originated with the Resort Municipality of Whistler in 1997, which met with the Lil’wat Nation to discuss its participation and presence in Whistler. Mindful of its historic collaboration and shared interest in land stewardship with the Squamish Nation, in 2001, the two nations signed a historic Protocol Agreement, the only one of its kind in Canada. The Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre opened in 2008. In 2020, a framework Agreement was signed between the Nations and the Resort Municipality of Whistler, providing for collaborations on economic development, tourism and promotion of cultural awareness.
The building is a beautiful space with floor-to-ceiling windows that look out to the woods. I join nine others for the center’s signature tour, “What We Treasure,” which are led by cultural ambassadors who share their own stories and first-hand cultural experiences. The tour begins with an excellent 15-minute orientation film.
Our guide is Dalilah, whose Lil’wat name is T’ac T’ac , or “sweet sweet” like sweetie or sweatheart. She is a 17-year old high school student interning on her spring break. She begins by singing in her native language, “We belong to the land, the land is our people, we belong to the land.” We view artifacts and hear stories that give us a sense of the past and present way of life of the Squamish and Lil’wat peoples.
As we go through the center, I am struck by how different the clothes, foods and therefore the traditions and daily habits are for these two peoples who live “where rivers and mountains meet.” It is starkly clear how culture and lifestyle is linked to the ecology and topography of their land and the materials and resources at hand. The Squamash are coastal, the Lil’wat live on the mountain. Culture is a manifestation of the ecosystem we inhabit – even and especially today.
It is these traditions and lessons of living in close harmony with nature (Mother Earth), to the point of spiritual devotion, that the indigenous people impart today, all the more relevant in light of the climate disasters of a planet out of sync with nature.
The displays are less historic artifacts and more contemporary examples of the traditional arts and crafts being revived; often these are not just re-creations of centuries-old design and form, but with modern twists.
We learn how their societies were so careful to live in harmony with their environment – their canoes are made from red cedar bark, but they only harvest a precise section of the tree – hugging the tree so that there are two hand-widths.
“We make sure to only take a piece of the tree so we don’t kill it. We are connected to the cedar through the things we make with it,” notes Joy Joseph-McCullough, a Squamish weaver.
There is an element of mythology, mysticism, handed down from the ancients, that continues to underpin their worldview, reflected in the urgency to save language, and the oral tradition, and resurrect traditional arts and crafts.
It is reflected in Joy McCullough-Joseph’s notes about the traditional Coast Salish Blanket she named “The Message.” “I twilled and twined on a Traditional Coast Salish Loom. I named my blanket, “The Message’ because the design for the blanket came to me in a dream. In my dream our Ancestors told me to weave in Mother Earth to remind us of our responsibility to the Earth. The second message is to honour and remember the sixteen families that amalgamated to form the Squamish Nation. The last message is to honour our Ancestors who were weavers.”
Another note reads “when you wear the blankets, you feel the protection of all who have been called to protect you… We feel the prayers offered by the weaver and our ancestors, when we wear the robes.”
You have to wait a year before you can weave cedar bark and it can three apprentices six months to weave a cedar mat, Dalilah tells us. “When we are sad, we don’t weave, otherwise it would transfer negative thoughts.”
We learn how mountain goat wool was used in Salish weaving, an ancient art form that dates back to the ice age. A mountain goat wool blanket in those times could mean the difference between surviving or succumbing to the elements. The inner wool of the mountain goat was gathered during spring molt, collected off of bushes from wool shed by the goat or from harvested animals. “It takes 5 to 10 years to collect enough for a blanket,” she tells us.
The wool was mixed with hair from a specially bred dog. Natural dyes were derived from plants, berries and clays. Intricate geometric designs reflected elements of nature and families held the rights to use those designs.
I am lucky to see a special photography exhibit on view: “Unceded – Photographic Journey into Belonging”. This temporary exhibit makes graphic the meaning of “unceded” – land that was considered stolen, taken by force, without a legal treaty. The photos show contemporary indigenous people in places like downtown Vancouver. But it is actually speaking more to the First Nations people, prodding them to see themselves in this modern world, but retaining their connection to their heritage. Unceded “doesn’t mean our people aren’t still there.”
“As urban cities, farmland, towns, and recreation parks built up around us, our Ancestors are still here, living in the blood of the people of this land. While pop culture, fashion trends and global connection are influencing how people move through society, people residing on and off reserve are living deeply in their culture, engaged socially and politically with the world around them, reviving ancient traditions, re-enforcing a stewardship that guides their climate and lands safely through the first 50 thousand years before contact.”
I have a delightful lunch at Thunderbird Café, and survey a marvelous gift shop at the center before heading off to do a bit of sightseeing on Whistler’s famous Peak 2 Peak Gondola.
Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre, 4584 Blackcomb Way, Whistler, 1 866 441 SLCC (7522),https://slcc.ca/.
Peak 2 Peak Gondola
Considering how vast Whistler-Blackcomb is, it is actually surprisingly easy to get around (once I figure it out).
I take the Blackcomb Gondola from the base of Blackcomb Mountain for the ride to the top of Blackcomb Mountain. From here it is a short walk – skirting the skiers and snowboarders – to the Peak 2 Peak Gondola which links Blackcomb Mountain to Whistler Mountain. I’m feeling jealous of the skiers but I am sightseeing today and this is an absolutely gorgeous ride. A man I ride up the Blackcomb Gondola with tells me to look for special sightseeing gondolas that have a plexiglass bottom you can look through – we sightseers stand on a separate line so we get first dibs when the car comes around.
After opening on December 12, 2008, the massive gondola revolutionized the way skiers, riders and hikers experienced the mountains. The Peak 2 Peak Gondola, as part of the world’s longest continuous lift system, isn’t just to move skiers, it also gives summer guests access to Whistler Blackcomb’s high alpine for sightseeing, hiking and mountain-top dining.
The Peak 2 Peak Gondola travels a span of 2.73 miles giving sightseers and hikers a serene aerial flight showcasing flora and fauna (even black bears in their protected habitats), Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains; the Coast Mountain Range’s many glaciers and peaks; and Whistler Village, surrounded by lakes.
It is notable that Whistler Blackcomb (now part of Vail Resorts, which means the resort is part of the Epic Pass) is consistently ranked one of the top ski resorts in North America. With more than 8,100 acres of terrain, variety is an understatement: there are steeps, deeps, chutes, bowls, glades, long cruisers, and high alpine and gentle rollers. And the numbers speak for themselves: one vertical mile drop; two side-by-side mountains connected by a pedestrian village, more than 200 trails, three glaciers, 37 lifts, and 16 alpine bowls – all of it top quality.
Even this late in the season, the snow looks great and the trails look gorgeous– plenty of easy, intermediate runs!
Riding the Peak 2 Peak Gondola is such fun and the view so beautiful, that I actually ride it back and forth and back again for an hour before downloading via Whistler Village Gondola into Skiers Plaza in Whistler Village. (Whistler Blackcomb, https://www.whistlerblackcomb.com/)
Audain Art Museum
Back down in the charming village, I pass lovely shops and eateries on my way to the Audain Art Museum. Outside is the invitation to see the “Masters of Print: Rembrandt and Beyond”- a clue that this is a world-class museum. I did not expect to see Rembrandt prints at Whistler. Nor did I expect to see what is arguably the world’s finest collection of First Nations masks, dating from the mid 1800s.
Sure enough, the Audain Art Museum delivers on its promise of a transformative experience for appreciating the art of British Columbia as well as exhibitions from around Canada and around the world. It’s in this part of the world but very much of the world. It is as local as local can be but brings the reaches of the globe into this small section of it.
The Audain Art Museum’s Permanent Collection of some 200 works – nearly all of it from the collection of Michael Audain and his wife, Yoshiko Karasawa, or purchased with their funding – is a visual journey through the history of art from coastal British Columbia.
Most astonishing is the room housing Audain’s collection of Northwest Coast First Nations masks. They are extraordinary because you see the individualism of the artist as well as the subject (many seem to be representations of actual people rather than mythic figures) and different techniques. I wonder if this reflects changes over time (spanning the mid 1800s to the present), regional differences and styles or perhaps just the artist’s own creativity.
A truly monumental piece, an exquisitely carved red cedar “Dance Screen” (2010-2013) by Haida Chief 7idansuu (James Hart) who was a friend and collaborator of Bill Reid, takes up an entire wall of this room.
The next room has a huge collection of a beloved British Columbia artist, Emily Carr. You see her in her Impressionist phase, when she studied in France in 1911; how she incorporated First Nations elements into her landscapes when she returned in 1912. There are also post-war modernists including E.J. Hughes, Gordon Smith and Jack Shadbolt as well as works by internationally renowned, contemporary British Columbia artists including Jeff Wall, Dana Claxton, Marianne Nicolson, Rodney Graham and Stan Douglas.
I’m told that Audain had never even been to Whistler before, but his friend, who designed Whistler Village in the 1980s, encouraged him that he could build a museum in Whistler which would connect to nature, where people could quietly contemplate art. They worked with award-winning architects John and Patricia Patkau. The museum opened in 2016. (Open Thursday to Monday 11am – 6pm).
The website includes this statement: “Audain Art Museum is grateful to be on the shared, unceded territory of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) Nation and Lil̓wat7úl (Lil’wat) Nation.”
I have a rushed dinner at Caramba! Restaurant (#12 4314 Main Street (Town Plaza), Whistler, BC V0N 1B0 Phone: 604.938.1879 www.carambarestaurant.com/), a fun, casual place before I get back on the Skylynx shuttle for the 7 pm departure back to Vancouver (get there early because the bus fills up), arriving back to downtown Vancouver at 9:30 pm.
Indigenous Tourism BC offers travel ideas, things to do, places to go, places to stay, and suggested itineraries and a trip planning app (https://www.indigenousbc.com/)
No question about it: Vail Resorts has stormed the entire East Coast ski market, just this season adding 17 resorts in one fell swoop with its acquisition of Peak Resorts, including such iconic destinations as Mount Snow in Vermont and Hunter Mountain in New York to a list that already included Stowe and Okemo Mountain in Vermont (and Okemo’s sister resorts, Mount Sunapee in New Hampshire and Crested Butte in Colorado), Now add in Attitash Mountain Resort, Wildcat Mountain and Crotched Mountain in New Hampshire and Liberty Mountain Resort, Roundtop Mountain Resort, Whitetail Resort, Jack Frost and Big Boulder in Pennsylvania plus seven more in the Midwest, all of which are included on this season’s Epic Pass.
Epic Pass already provides access to some of the biggest names in skiing – Vail, Breckenridge, Beaver Creek, Keystone in Colorado, and Northstar, Heavenly and Kirkwood, in Lake Tahoe, Calif., Park City, Utah, Whistler BC– as well as its partnerships with resorts in the Alps and Japan, even Perisher in Australia when it is summer in North America. The Epic Pass offers unlimited, unrestricted access to all of Vail Resorts’ owned and operated mountain resorts plus additional access to partner resorts around the world including Telluride, Sun Valley, Snowbasin, Resorts of the Canadian Rockies, Hakuba Valley Japan, Verbier, Courchevel. (For more information: www.epicpass.com)
What is more, innovations in Epic Pass allow for more flexibility.
New Epic Day Pass Makes Skiing and Riding More Accessible and Affordable: New for the
2019-20 season, Vail Resorts launched the Epic Day Pass, which provides all skiers
and riders with the value and flexibility traditionally available only to
season pass holders. The Epic Day Pass is a first-of-its-kind customizable pass
for skiers and riders who may not need the unlimited access offered by
traditional season passes, with discounts up to 50% off of lift ticket window
prices and as low as $109 for one day of skiing at any of our North American
resorts. Guests can lower their cost per day by adding more days and selecting
the number of days they plan to ski or ride – from one day to seven days – and
whether or not to add holiday access.
A Digital Mountain Assistant at Your Fingertips. Last season Vail
Resorts introduced Emma, the Epic Mountain Assistant, to help guide guests
visiting select Vail Resorts destinations. Using artificial intelligence and
natural language processing, Emma has the ability to answer a wide range of
guests’ questions in real time through SMS text. She transforms the guest
experience by offering on-demand information on everything from grooming, lift
line wait times, and parking, to recommendations on rentals, lessons, and
dining options. Through machine learning and data analysis, Emma will be even
smarter for the 2019-20 season. She’s available at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge,
Keystone, Park City, Whistler Blackcomb, Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood. More
information can be found at www.EmmaIsEpic.com, or text 77477.
2017, Vail Resorts launched Commitment to Zero, the company’s
industry-leading sustainability goal. The company pledged to achieve a zero net
operating footprint by 2030 across all of its resorts through (1) zero
net emissions by 2030 with 50 percent progress toward this goal by 2025, (2)
zero waste to landfill by 2030 and increasing waste diversion to 50 percent by
the end of 2020, and (3) zero net operating impact to forests and habitat.
new developments at Vail Resorts:
upgrades at Vail Mountain that will allow for more diverse terrain to be
open earlier. This is the largest snowmaking expansion project in Vail
upgrades at Beaver Creek, which will ensure more reliable early-season
terrain in a key learning area of the upper mountain, with the goal of
top-to-bottom skiing on opening day. Additionally, a newly remodeled
village will welcome families for one-of-a-kind events and experiences
throughout the season.
of the Peak 8 base area at Breckenridge, which entails new escalators that will
connect the street and plaza levels; a new skier services headquarters
(pass/ticket sales, ski school, retail/rental, etc.), as well as an ice rink,
coffee shop and new town transit stop. And there’s more to come with a
four-star hotel under development. Also, Gravity Haus Breckenridge will
open this winter, replacing the Village Hotel at the base of Breckenridge’s
Peak 9. The appeals to outdoor enthusiasts through ongoing programming and
amenities that include Dryland Fitness, a sports recovery center,
four lanes of duckpin bowling, and a co-working space.
upgrades at Keystone Resort that will position the resort to be one of the
first in the country to open this season! Alongside neighboring Breckenridge,
the two Summit County resorts will offers guests one of the longest ski seasons
in the country, with skiing and riding operations planned to kick off at
Keystone in October and run through Memorial Day at Breck, as weather and
Teocalli Lift at Crested Butte, a fixed-grip quad lift, replacing a
fixed-grip double. The upper terminal will also be slightly realigned closer to
the top of the Red Lady Express Lift, improving egress to Uley’s Cabin and the
addition, Telluride has a
partnership arrangement to be on Vail’s Epic Pass, whereby those with a full
Epic Pass can get up to seven days, and those with a basic pass can ski four
days. Getting to Telluride from New York is easier with a new Saturday flight
on American from LaGuardia (Dec. 21-April 4) in addition to daily nonstops from
Newark on United (Dec
19-Jan 5, Feb 15-Apr 2).
new Over and Out Lift,
a fixed grip quad lift will transport guests from the bottom of the Tombstone
Express Lift to the top of Sunrise Lift on the front side of the mountain. As
the name suggests, this lift will provide a quicker, more direct route for
skiers and riders to access Canyons Village from the center of the resort. Steps
from the Tombstone Lift, the new on-mountain dining restaurant,
Tombstone BBQ, will replace the moveable food truck with a permanent
structure that includes seating for up to 50 guests, a beer bar and a full
kitchen to allow for the use of reusable serve ware.
is the only ski resort in North America to span across two states, allowing
skiers and riders to experience the best of both California and Nevada terrain,
all on one mountain. For guests who like to take enviable Instagram pictures,
they can do so next to on-mountain “Welcome to California” and “Welcome to
Nevada” signs, all while capturing the beauty of Lake Tahoe in the backdrop.
Meanwhile, off-mountain, you get to frolic in the yin-yang of Nevada casinos
and nightlife and the laid-back wholesomeness of California.
Northstar is partnering
with internationally acclaimed restaurateur, Michael Mina, to unveil the newBourbon
Pub Northstar, opening in winter 2019. Bourbon Pub Northstar will offer
upscale pub food to the après ski crowd with starters such as truffle tater
tots, mesquite grilled steaks, and fennel stuffed salmon.
37 miles of groomed trails at Kirkwood’s Cross Country and Snowshoe
Center on skis, snowshoes…and now fat bikes! Diverse terrain and modes
of exploring are available for all ability levels making Kirkwood’s Cross
Country and Snowshoe Center a perfect spot for winter family adventures that
can include everyone – even the dog.
Roundhouse Umbrella Bar and new 60-seat patio offers a chance
to raise a glass among the clouds at the front of the Roundhouse Lodge
out the Cloudraker Suspension Bridge, the highest suspension bridge in North
the top of Whistler Mountain, 7,160 feet above sea level. Spanning 426.5 feet
from the Peak to West Ridge, the Cloudraker Suspension Bridge brings
sightseers, hikers and mountain bikers to the Peak for an unparalleled view of
the Whistler Valley and Black Tusk, in Garibaldi Provincial Park.
Heli-Skiing is the pinnacle of Whistler’s skiing experience. For guests
looking to take their experience to the next level, Whistler Heli-Skiing has
what it takes to go the extra distance. With exclusive rights to 432,000 acres
of big mountain terrain that includes 173 glaciers and 475 trails, Whistler
Heli-Skiing offers a variety of packages for everyone, from strong intermediates
to seasoned experts. Whistler Blackcomb
offers some of best snow in North America. Last year, Vail invested $66 million
in upgrading lifts. A new activity is Vallea
Lumina, a nighttime interactive walk in the rainforest, which had been
offered only in summer, being offered in winter for the first time (www.whistlerblackcomb.com).
Improvements to Okemo’s on-mountain lodges, The
Sugar House Lodge and Summit Lodge will be completed in time for the
2019-20 season. Both lodges will receive upgrades including new
culinary concepts and menus, as well as a new interior look and feel.
is one of Vermont’s most celebrated locations for foodies – from farm
fresh meats, cheeses, produce, heirloom grains and local craftsmanship. Stowe’s
creative and eclectic collection of spots to eat span many cultures and dining
experiences, from breweries and restaurants like the new Von Trapp Bier
Hall, to on-mountain fine dining at the Cliff House, Stowe’s attention to
quality is exceptional.
for 2019-20 season, Mount Sunapee is launching EpicMix. Skiers and
riders can download the free EpicMix app to access a variety of features from
their mobile phones to check snow conditions, view webcams and trail maps, earn
pins and track their Ski & Snowboard School progress. After a great day on
the mountain, you can even share your achievements on Facebook and Twitter.
In addition operating 37 world-class mountain resorts and urban ski
areas Vail Resorts owns and/or manages a collection of casually elegant hotels
under the RockResorts brand, as well as the Grand Teton Lodge Company in Jackson
Time is running out to purchase Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass and for the first time, because of Vail’s acquisition of Stowe Mountain in Vermont – its first Eastern resort – it makes epic sense for Northeastern skiers. The deadline to purchase is November 19.
Considered one of the best values among ski passes, Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass gives you full unlimited, unrestricted access to 15 resorts in three countries (just three weekend visits to Stowe pays for the Epic Pass) plus limited access to 30 European ski resorts.
New for the 2017-2018 season, the Epic Pass also provides unlimited, unrestricted access to its newest acquisitions, Whistler Blackcomb in Canada (the largest ski resort in North America) and Stowe Mountain in Vermont, as well as at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin in Colorado; Park City in Utah (the largest ski resort in the US); Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood in Lake Tahoe; Afton Alps near Minneapolis, Mt. Brighton near Detroit, Wilmot Mountain near Chicago, and the 2018 Perisher season in Australia. Also, Epic Pass holders again enjoy limited access to 30 European ski resorts including Verbier and Les 4 Vallées in Switzerland, Les 3 Vallées in France; Arlberg in Austria; and Skirama Dolomiti Adamello Brenta in Italy.
Season pass holders save more than 40 percent compared to lift ticket window prices.
2017-2018 Ski and Snowboard Season Pass Options
Epic Pass™: Ski unlimited and unrestricted from opening day to closing day for only $899. The Epic Pass pays for itself in just over four days of skiing or snowboarding. Enjoy full access to Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin in Colorado; Park City in Utah; Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood at Lake Tahoe; Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont; Afton Alps in Minnesota; Mt. Brighton in Michigan; Wilmot Mountain in Wisconsin; Whistler Blackcomb in Canada; and Perisher in Australia for the 2018 season. The Epic Pass grants limited access to Les 3 Vallées, Paradiski and Tignes-Val D’Isere in France; 4 Vallées in Switzerland; Arlberg in Austria and Skirama Dolomiti in Italy. A child pass (ages five to 12) is $469.
Epic Local Pass™: For $679, receive unlimited and unrestricted skiing or riding at Breckenridge, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin, Wilmot, Afton Alps and Mt. Brighton with limited restrictions at Park City, Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood, plus a total of 10 days at Vail, Beaver Creek, Stowe, and Whistler Blackcomb with holiday restrictions. The Epic Local Pass pays for itself in just over three days. A child pass (ages five to 12) is $359.
Epic 4-Day™: A convenient option for a short ski trip. The pass pays for itself in just over two days andincludes a total of four unrestricted days valid at Whistler Blackcomb, Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Park City, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, Stowe and Arapahoe Basin, plus four additional free days at Afton Alps, Mt. Brighton or Wilmot Mountain. The Epic 4-Day Pass is $459 for adults and $249 for children (ages five to 12).
The deadline to purchase a 2017-2018 season pass is Sunday, Nov. 19. For additional information on season pass options and to purchase, visit EpicPass.com.
EpicMix Time Insights
New for 2017-18, Vail Resorts has launched EpicMix Time Insights, a website designed to help guests make the most of planning their ski day at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Park City by providing full visibility into lift line wait times. Vail Resorts is the first in the mountain resort industry to provide guests full transparency on historic lift line wait times, setting a new guest service standard for the industry. Guests can select a specific resort and date from last season to access resort trail maps that display individual lift line wait times for every lift collected by the EpicMix Time app during the 2016-17 season, sliding across the day in 15-minute increments from the time the lifts open until they close. Insights also highlights new lift upgrades for the 2017-18 winter season and provides mountain tips on how to best navigate each resort. Insights offers guests full visibility on actual lift line data from last ski season so they can maximize their day on the mountain during their next trip. To explore Insights, visit Time.EpicMix.com
Here are highlights of what is new for the 2017-18 season at Vail Resorts:
Stowe Mountain, Vermont
Stowe Adventure Center opens at Stowe Mountain. This $30 million, state-of-the art facility literally sets a new standard in the industry for kids and family amenities. Located at Spruce Peak, Stowe’s Adventure Center is home to all the children’s programs. From beautiful daycare facilities to ski and ride programs for kids 3 and up, the new Adventure Center has significantly advanced and expanded luxurious family amenities and services at the resort. The building also includes new shops, an Indoor Climbing Center (called Stowe Rocks) and family-friendly dining in The Canteen restaurant
Outdoor Ice Skating Rink. Also new for Stowe is the Spruce Peak outdoor Ice Skating rink, Ice skating is complimentary and open to the public daily from 11am to 9pm. Skate rentals are available.
New Spruce Peak Village Center Includes: Vermont crepe restaurant, Skinny Pancake, gourmet food and beverage markets, an artisan coffee shop and retail shopping. Spruce Peak is also home to the relatively new Stowe Mountain Lodge, one of the most awarded new ski-in ski-out luxury hotels & spas in the world.
Whistler Blackcomb, British Colombia
New this season is the WhistlerPeak Suspension Bridge and West Ridge Viewpoint. The Whistler Peak Suspension Bridge spans 426.5 ft from Whistler Peak to the West Ridge Viewpoint, a multi-tiered viewing platform with 360° views, offering guests a thrilling new way to experience this iconic spot. The cantilevered walkway extends 40.7 ft out from the West Ridge and an exhilarating 164 ft. above Whistler Bowl.
Signature Experiences t Whistler Blackcomb include Ski With An Olympian. Ski with an Olympian is Snow School’s most exclusive program and allows guests to experience a full day private lesson with an Olympian, so you can follow in their tracks, copy their technique and hear neat stories.
Fresh Tracks Mountain-Top Breakfast, presented by The Globe and Mail, lets you board the Whistler Village Gondola at 7:15 am and head up to the Roundhouse Lodge for the ultimate mountain-sized breakfast buffet. Then, as an added bonus, you get to ski fresh powder or perfectly groomed corduroy on the upper mountain before the rest of world is even out of bed. This unique experience is not limited to skiers and boarders; sightseers can get an early jump on the day by enjoying a Fresh Tracks mountain top breakfast before setting out on the PEAK 2 PEAK.
Whistler Heli-Skiing is the pinnacle of Whistler’s skiing experience. With exclusive rights to 432,000 acres of big mountain terrain that includes 173 glaciers and 475 runs, Whistler Heli-Skiing offers a variety of packages for everyone, from strong intermediates to seasoned experts. All heli-adventures are lead by a professional, certified heli-ski guide and include the use of avalanche transceiver, on mountain lunch and return ground transportation from Whistler Village. The Guide will choose the best ski area for the day and will ski or board with the group.
Park City Utah
With acquisition and connection with Canyons, Park City is now the largest ski resort in the United States, and one of the easiest to reach, just about 45 minutes from Salt Lake City airport (so you can actually fly from New York and be on the slopes by noon).
$15 Million Grand Summit Hotel Renovation: Now a RockResorts Property: The Grand Summit Hotel, located in Canyons Village, opened for the season after an extensive $15 million renovation and has been branded as a RockResorts property. The renovation included a complete overhaul of all 212 suites, including new interior finishes, furnishings, soft goods, appliances, artwork and technology. The property’s communal spaces were also incorporated into the renovation, including the lobby and front desk, full remodel of the on-site spa, café and general store, and refresh of the meeting spaces. More information here.
New Signature Experience: Silver to Slopes Historic Mining Tour: New this season, Park City Mountain will debut the Silver to Slopes Historic Mining Tour. On this complimentary, guided ski tour, guests will explore the mountain with an expert guide and uncover the historic mining buildings and hidden relics scattered across the resort. They’ll learn how Park City Mountain evolved from a silver mining camp to an internationally recognized winter sports destination and hear the stories behind the authentic mining structures seen on the mountain. Tours are recommended for intermediate level skiers/riders and above and depart daily from the Park City Resort Mountain Village at 10 a.m. and at the Trail Map near the top of Bonanza lift at 1 p.m. After the tour, participants will receive a signature pin to commemorate their visit to Park City Mountain.
Special Events: Park City Mountain is making the holidays even more special for guests by hosting unforgettable holiday events this Christmas, New Years and Spring Break. The Holiday Season kicks off on Saturday, Dec. 16 with Park City Mountain’s annual Snowfest Celebration, a 16-day festival including morning and après musical acts, village entertainers, annual torchlight parade, fireworks and a special visit from Santa on Town Lift. Park City Mountain’s annual Spring Grüv Celebration will return just in time for Spring Break this March with 16 days of free concerts and the famous Pond Skimming Contest. Beyond the holidays, Park City Mountain hosts free concerts, family activities and events all season long at both base areas including free s’mores on Saturdays and Sundays and an hour to meet the avalanche dogs on Fridays and Saturdays.
New Event: Seven Summits Challenge: Can you hit seven summits and cover 7,300 acres of terrain in one day? Brand new this season, Park City Mountain will host the inaugural Seven Summits Challenge on Saturday, Feb. 24. Participants will conquer a pre-set course that takes them on a journey across Park City Mountain’s seven peaks and 7,300 acres in one day. It’s the ultimate adventure at the largest ski resort in the United States. More details, including a course description, will be announced in January.
New Beginner Ski and Snowboard Area at the Park City Mountain Village: This summer, Park City Mountain installed a new, enclosed surface lift and a new designated beginner trail to serve entry-level skiers and snowboarders at the Park City Mountain Village. The new area will provide a comfortable and spacious learning area for those just starting to ski or ride.
Ski and Snowboard School: Your Personal Guide to 7,300 Acres of Terrain. Park City Mountain’s signature Peak-to-Peak Guided Mountain Tour pairs you up with an expert guide who will take you peak to peak uncovering the best runs and conditions on the mountain. And if you’re skiing with the whole family, a Private Family Lesson is a great way to learn and transform your day on the slopes into a real family adventure.
Heavenly Lake Tahoe & Kirkwood
The new Red Cliffs Family Lodge features family activities every weekend. Enjoy family movie night each Friday with popcorn, snacks, hot cocoa, beer, wine, s’mores. Themed nights throughout the season, events and parties such as family feud night, ski trivia night and holiday themed evenings. The Red Cliffs Family lodge also has board games, corn hole, foosball, air hockey, giant jenga and checkers.
Women’s Clinics and Camps for all ages and skill levels. This experience is about escaping, having fun, developing friendships, seeking adventure and doing something just for you. Throughout the day you tackle a variety of terrain and snow conditions while working on the terrain selection, tactical approach and off-piste skiing and riding technique.
New GoPro Ski and Ride School is an instructed lesson where you learn how to use a GoPro camera to capture first-person footage of Heavenly’s secret stashes and powder pockets. You get to keep your memory card full of the day’s footage and can purchase a GoPro at discount in the Heavenly Sports stores.
Expedition: Kirkwood combines Kirkwood Mountain Resort’s legendary terrain and secret powder pockets with qualified guides and expert coaches. Elevating safety and avalanche education will allow you to hone in on your skills while navigating Kirkwood’s signature chutes, cornices, and bowls led by our team.
Specialty Experiences, Instruction and Guiding. Northstar California’s new Platinum program allows skiers and snowboarders with Platinum Season or Day Passes gain access to the exclusive run offered on Saturdays, experiencing the best conditions throughout the day Platinum Season and Day Passes are perfect for skiers and snowboarders seeking solitude by unlocking private gates at the front of each lift line. Other experiences in the Platinum family include Platinum Lockers, featuring private boot warmers and house-made sweets, and Platinum tōst, a European-style lunch paired with Veuve Clicquot off East Ridge Run.
Northstar Traditions Every afternoon skiers and snowboarders gather off of East Ridge Run for a complimentary glass of champagne or sparkling cider and tōst to the mountains, Lake Tahoe, and friends and family. After ski school gets out each day, S’mores Ambassadors descend upon the Village carrying silver platters covered in ooey-gooey chocolate, graham cracker and marshmallow treats.
Set at Zephyr Lodge, the Mountain Table Dinner Series marries food and wine for a private dinner culminating with a surprise transportation twist. This winter’s series features SIMI, Prisoner, Charles Krug and Rodney Strong Vineyards.
New: First Tracks, where Adventure Guiding and Learning Center mountain guides take two intimate groups on a tour of the mountain before lifts open to the public. This shamelessly indulgent experience gives private access to freshly groomed runs and sparkling powder across the entire mountain. Convenient and inviting, the Adventure Guiding and Learning Center welcomes guests into the lounge with fresh espresso and custom equipment fitting, prior to meeting a hand-picked mountain guide. Northstar mountain guides and instructors provide what you need – including tours to the most serene locations on the mountain. After a full day of skiing Northstar like a local, visitors return to the Village for a well-earned champagne toast. Next door at the exclusive Burton Snowboard Academy, snowboarders of all levels enter a realm of terrain-based learning. Leather-seated couches and a fireplace surrounded by top-of-the-line Burton equipment make for a cozy setting to lace up boots. On-mountain, little tykes learn the essentials in the Ripperoo Riglet Park, while more mature boarders progress on the trail, in one of the five nationally-renowned progression parks or off-piste. For breaks, the private Burton Academy Lounge at Mid-Mountain offers one-on-one time with Burton-certified instructors, hot cocoa and fire pits.
New:Six-Passenger Northwoods Express Lift (#11) marks the 10th lift replacement in the last 11 years at Vail. Northwoods Express is a primary lift on the front side of Vail Mountain, serving intermediate and advanced terrain. The new lift reduces wait times and increases capacity by 25%. The increase also improves the flow of skiers and snowboarders to the legendary Back Bowls and Blue Sky Basin throughout the day, as well as creates a better flow of traffic exiting Blue Sky Basin and moving across the mountain at the end of the day.
The Arrabelle at Vail Square, A RockResort, celebrates 10 years in January 2018. A celebration of the anniversary will take place in December and special activities will be held in Vail Square including musicians and ice sculptures during the winter season.
New: Beaver Creek’s Red Buffalo Park Adventure 200-acre family learning area accessed by a new high-speed lift. Located at the mountain’s highest elevation, 11,440 feet, Red Buffalo Park provides 13 trails designated as a family adventure zone and features family-friendly amenities such as snow sculptures through the park, Kids Adventure Zones and a dedicated Ski School Skills Zone. Guests enrolled in Beaver Creek Ski School will have exclusive access to the Cookie Cabin, a mountaintop refuge serving up Beaver Creek’s famed, fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies all-day long. At the heart of the experience, the new Red Buffalo Express Lift (#5), a high-speed quad, allows for easier access to the dedicated beginner terrain while decreasing lift lines and providing a shorter, 4.3-minute ride to the top of the mountain.
White Carpet Club is an exclusive, private retreat within the heart of Beaver Creek Village which you can join for the duration of your visit. Located steps from the escalator leading to Centennial Express Lift, the White Carpet Club hosts spacious lockers for storing apparel and accessories; boot dryers; a continental service offering coffees, teas, cocoa, and decadent morsels; private restroom facilities and an intimate lounge adorned with soft, cozy seating. The dedicated on-site concierge offers instant assistance with lift ticket and pass purchases, as well as dinner and activity guidance and reservations. Priority access to SaddleRidge Restaurant – renowned for ski-in fine dining during lunch and dinner – is also a distinct benefit. Other benefits include preferred parking and slope side equipment-check.
Beaver Creek’s First Tracks experience invites guests to cherish unrivaled scenic beauty at sunrise, delight over premier access to flawless snow surface conditions, and savor a five-star gourmet breakfast on the mountain at the exclusive Allie’s Cabin. Guests board the Centennial Express Lift at 7:30 a.m., enjoy a private, guided tour of the mountain’s flawlessly curated slopes and relax over breakfast – all before the resort opens for the day. (Reserve First Tracks by dialing +1-866.250.1679 or +1.970.754.5310.)
Allie’s CabinWine Dinners and Family Dinners via Open Sleigh. Allie’s Cabin, a fine dining retreat atop a peaceful aspen grove on Beaver Creek Mountain, features Wine Dinners with a celebrated group of wineries, accompanied by a stunning fireworks display over Beaver Creek Village. On select Thursday evenings December through March, guests arrive via open-air sleigh for a gourmet culinary experience in the cozy cabin. While savoring exquisite food and wine pairings, guests enjoy a warm fireplace and sweeping views of the Beaver Creek Village, illuminated by Thursday Night Lights Fireworks. Classic contemporary regional fare has been crafted to offer the perfect pairing for the featured wines of the evening. New this winter and offered during select weekends, Allie’s Cabin Family Dinners welcome guests to savor gourmet fare which caters exclusively to children and families.
Artisan Chocolates found pnly at Beaver Creek Candy Cabin Located at the top of Strawberry Park Express and Upper Beaver Creek Mountain Express lifts, myriad palate-pleasing sweets are created locally by fifth-generation chocolatier, Michael Mootz, presented in a custom Beaver Creek gold box; individual chocolate snowflakes, snowmen or ski boots.
The Falcon SuperChair is being upgraded from a quad to a high-speed, six-passenger lift, offering an easier and faster ride up Peak 10. Breck’s Ten Mile Station is going a little “Willy Wonka” this winter season, adding an old fashioned sweet shop. It’s sure to guarantee you a sugar high as you ascend the Imperial Express, North America’s highest chairlift! The resort’s newest restaurant, Pioneer Crossing (opened December 2016), is also sweetening up its menu, adding sweet and savory crepes to its breakfast lineup this winter. Located just steps from the top of the Independence SuperChair on Peak 7 – one of the resort’s five iconic peaks on the north side of the mountain – the slope-side restaurant offers panoramic views of the mountain and Summit County. Also on the menu, a variety of house made options like fresh made salads to order, signature dishes like Pioneer Lamb Pie and a Mediterranean inspired station.
The Dew Tour returns to Breck for its 10th year, December 14-17, 2017 (presented by Mountain Dew® and TEN: The Enthusiast Network), as an Olympic qualifying event for the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea. The four-day event kicks off the competition season, featuring individual superpipe and slopestyle competitions with the best skiers and snowboarders in the world, along with live concerts, the interactive Dew Tour Experience and in-town events. The Team Challenge is also back for another year and features invited teams of riders representing the biggest brands competing on a unique three-course layout.
Spring Fever! Breck will be one of the last major resorts still open when the biggest spring skiing party in the Rocky Mountains returns March 17 through April 22, 2018. Breckenridge’s elevation – 9,600 feet in town – makes the snow last longer and the bluebird spring days even sweeter. To celebrate, Spring Fever brings a month-long lineup of activities for families, beer drinkers, music lovers, mountaineers and more. www.BreckSpringFever.com
Breck Into Epic Above Tree-Line Terrain and Bowls From Blues and Blacks to Double Diamonds, Breck’s 11 bowls truly offer some of the best above tree-line skiing and snowboarding in North America. Hop off the Imperial Express, North America’s highest chairlift, and it’s like being transported to a winter vacation in the Alps. On a clear day Peak 8’s treeless, powdery slopes offer views for miles, and a bird’s eye look at historic Breckenridge. For a snow-sensory overload drop in on E.S.P. on powder days. Sign up for a Breck Guide for the day, for the inside scoop on hidden powder stashes and top terrain.
Visitors will find The Montezuma Express Lift, a primary lift on Dercum Mountain serving popular intermediate and beginner ski terrain, has been replaced with a high-speed six-passenger chair that increases efficiency and capacity by up to 25 percent, while improving skier and snowboarder circulation on the mountain.
Kids Still Ski Free. Every day, all season long, kids 12 and younger ski for free at Keystone with no blackout dates when family’s book two or more nights in one of Keystone’s numerous accommodation options, which span from affordable hotel rooms to family-sized condominiums. (Keystone is one of the only Colorado ski resorts offering nighttime skiing; it also provides access on its ticket to ski Arapahoe Basin.)
Kidtopia: Free Family Programming Offered Every Day of the Season. The Kidtopia lineup includes activities such as the village parade and fireworks, snowball launches, ice cream parties and meeting Keystone’s Ski Patrol rescue dogs. All Kidtopia programs are free.
New for 2017-2018, the Kidtopia Signature Event Series will feature three distinct events throughout the winter to complement the family experience at Keystone. The Kidtopia Spectacular, Dec. 15-24, marks the first signature event of the winter and kicks off the holiday season with a bounce house party, a mountaintop celebration and lighting ceremony of the world’s largest snow fort, and an evening with Santa Claus himself. The first-ever Kidtopia Culinary Festival debuts for the 2017-2018 winter, Feb. 9-17, with a savory lineup tailored to the youngest of foodies with cooking demonstrations, chocolate fountains, bakery tours, dessert specials and a celebrity chef event. The Kidtopia Music Experience, March 2-10, is the last of the signature event series and kicks-off the spring skiing and snowboarding season with music-themed fun including rock ‘n’ roll themed parties and the Snow Pants Dance Party, featuring live outdoor music performances from popular kid-friendly acts.
The Inn at Keystone is being rebranded to Hyatt Place Keystone following a significant renovation of the property. The rebranding marks the first significant hotel brand in Keystone as well as the first Hyatt select service hotel to be announced for the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Guests of the hotel will also be able to enjoy a new fitness center, an alternative grab-and-go dining option and new outdoor communal spaces.