by Andrea Vance
We went looking for some family ski fun, not too far from Greater Vancouver, and we found it and more at Sun Peaks Resort, located just 20 minutes outside of Kamloops.
Pulling into the village, you feel like you’ve come along a mountainside paradise nestled between two hills. It’s got a real old-world European alpine feel, and right away you feel at peace in the mountains.
WHAT TO DO
Sun Peaks has two mountains for skiing and boarding, with lots of lift and capacity to get you around. Most accommodations throughout the village are ski-in/ski-out, so you can park your car once, and walk or ski where you need to go.
Morrisey is on one side, and Todd Mountain on the other, connected by trails and a covered bridge, with skiable terrain second in Canada only to Whistler/Blackcomb combined. There’s something for everyone, from steeps and moguls, to glade runs and cruisers. In two days of skiing on the holidays, we never encountered a lineup more than 5 minutes long, and many times we had runs all to ourselves with fresh powder.
Tubing is right there at the bottom of the main ski hill, perfect for parents who want to have après at Bottoms Bar & Grill while the kids keep the fun going into the evening. The Village Platter lift and the Tube Time Carpet is open until 7pm with the lights on for lots of nighttime fun. The village is small and quiet, so the kids can have a lot of freedom to run around and play.
Bring your skates! There is an NHL-sized outdoor rink, just a 10 minute walk from the main village. Skate rentals are available, and you can join a game of drop-in hockey, or enjoy a family skate during one of the open ice times that go well into the evening, under the stars. Check with guest services to see if the rink is open, since it is weather dependent.
There are spectacular Nordic ski trails too, and you can switch on the fly since the Nordic Centre is located right at the base of the Morrisey Express chairlift! Check out the Umbrella Café – such a cool place to grab a beer or light lunch between mountains and activities.
In the summertime at Sun Peaks, the chairlifts switch up to accommodate mountain bikes and hikers. There are huge networks of hiking trails and sightseeing to view vast landscapes of wildflowers and lakes. Downhill biking trails create adventure for the thrill seekers, and the golf course at Sun Peaks provides hours of gorgeous scenic links.
WHERE TO STAY
We stayed at the Sun Peaks Grand Hotel, and there is no wonder why it’s highly recommended. The rooms have all just been renovated, and they are so cozy, with fluffy bedding and pillows and oversized lounge chairs. Even the most basic room has plenty of floor space for ski bags and suitcases, and a big bathroom for families. The lobby is cozy with a fireplace and great hangout spaces, and a couple of casual restaurants and bars to meet up in before or after skiing. The indoor/outdoor pool, sauna, and two huge hot tubs overlooking the ski hill made for some great afternoon fun, meeting other families.
There are plenty of small hotels and condo rentals right in the main village, where you can walk to everything within just a few minutes. In the summertime, there are RV and camping sites too. Accommodations are limited within the village, so plan ahead, especially during ski season. There are more being built with a community plan in place, and everything is being built with ski-in/ski-out possibilities.
WHERE TO EAT
Our standard room came with a small fridge, a coffee maker, and a great counter area, which allowed us to have good snacks and breakfast foods right in the room. That helped a lot with two kids who are hungry when they wake up, and snack-ish all day long. You can also opt for a room or rental with a kitchen, making mealtimes so easy with the whole family.
There are some food services on the slopes at the top of the Sunburst chair, but with most of the runs flowing down to the main village, there are lots of options for fuelling up. We had some great meals, all within a 2 minute walk from the Sun Peaks Grand Hotel. For lunch and après-ski, we loved the Cahilty Creek Kitchen & Taproom, slope side with ski racks right out front, and 16 taps of craft beer and ciders. Locally owned by the Dye family, and newly renovated, the food and atmosphere are great for all ages.
The breakfast buffet at Mantles Restaurant was a treat, especially for the kids with good quality and variety. Sushi at the Oya restaurant was very good, but the seating is very limited, so go early. Bottoms Bar & Grill was in a perfect spot to watch the kids in the evening, skiing and tubing down the Platter run by night lights, and Masa’s Bar & Grill in the main ski lodge had great poutine, caesar salad, and burgers for hungry skiers.
As with most ski resorts, eating out is not cheap. We found some affordable options, brought our own snacks and drinks, found drink specials, and asked for kids menus that helped keep the final bills more reasonable. There is a small grocery store in the village with a decent selection of food and supplies, but best to bring in what you need for your home cooked meals.
WHERE TO MEET UP WITH FRIENDS
One of things that struck us about Sun Peaks as we skied and explored the village, was the friendly and welcoming nature of everyone we encountered. From other skiers in the lift lines (as short and quick as they were), to the clerks at the stores and the servers at the restaurants. We never felt like we were “just another tourist”.
We were thrilled to have a visit and ski with the incomparable Nancy Greene, Sun Peaks’ Director of Skiing. Along with all her accolades and achievements, Nancy has also recently been inducted into the Canadian Tourism Hall of Fame, having been instrumental in building Whistler and Sun Peaks both into the great destinations they are today. Nancy offers visitors a chance to ski with her on many days throughout the season at 1pm at the top of the Sunburst Express chairlift. Check the signs at the bottom, or with guest services to confirm her schedule. You won’t be disappointed! At 75 years old, Nancy can still make amazing turns and is so good with the kids. She’s a true advocate for the sport, and for Sun Peaks Resort.
EVENTS TO ENJOY
Sun Peaks is home to many festivals and events throughout the whole year, and in every season. Coming up this spring are the Nancy Greene Festival, the Rail Jam, and the Nordic Festival, and in summer, look out for the Foam Fest, Spirit Festival, Alpine Blossom Festival, and Family Weeks. Find out more about these and more events happening in the area on the Sun Peaks website.
We were able to experience Sun Peaks as the ultimate winter destination. All the amenities and experiences, and none of the crowds and lineups, and we’re looking forward to returning in the summer to see its beauty beyond the snow!
Head to Sun Peaks Resort to learn more about this fabulous BC getaway spot.
For more on family travel, stay tuned for our March/April issue which will include our annual Family Travel & Adventure Guide, coming to a location near you!