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The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Destination Canada & Alaska -

THE good news for Aus­tralian snow seek­ers head­ing to Canada this sea­son is daily non­stop Syd­ney-Van­cou­ver flights are be­ing in­tro­duced on De­cem­ber 14. The move by Air Canada will cut three hours off the jour­ney, which pre­vi­ously en­tailed a stop in Honolulu. It will also avoid the has­sle of go­ing through US Cus­toms, not an easy ex­pe­ri­ence in th­ese days of con­stant ter­ror alert. An­other plus is that from Fe­bru­ary 1, Air Canada plans to use its new 777s, which fea­ture lie-flat beds in ex­ec­u­tive first (busi­ness) class. In June, Air New Zealand brought in di­rect Auck­landVan­cou­ver flights year-round (three times a week in peak pe­ri­ods), a move air­line of­fi­cials said was in re­sponse to strong con­sumer de­mand. There’s still time to cap­i­talise on early bird dis­counts at Canada’s snow re­sorts. Here’s a run-down of just a few of the deals flood­ing the mar­ket:

The big news on Whistler Black­comb is there are plans to link the two moun­tains by a gon­dola for the 2008 sea­son, set­ting world records for length and height. For this year, Travel Plan has seven nights’ stu­dio ac­com­mo­da­tion in Whistler, six-day lift pass, trans­fers and taxes from $3398 a per­son ex Syd­ney based on Fe­bru­ary 1 de­par­ture.

Banff-Lake Louise-Sun­shine, 90 min­utes from Cal­gary, of­fers three ar­eas on one lift pass along with some awe­some scenery. The Snow Travel Com­pany of­fers seven nights at the Inns of Banff and lift pass from $2299 ex Syd­ney for early Fe­bru­ary de­par­tures (taxes ex­tra). Must be booked by July 29.

Sun Peaks, Bri­tish Columbia’s sec­ond largest win­ter re­sort (af­ter Whistler), gets my prize for the pret­ti­est vil­lage in this part of the world: think Hansel-and-Gre­tel cute. Travel Plan has seven nights’ stu­dio ac­com­mo­da­tion, lift pass, trans­fers and taxes from $3217 ex Syd­ney.

Sil­ver Star, with its Vic­to­rian ar­chi­tec­ture based on a 19th-cen­tury min­ing town, is an­other con­tender for the cutest vil­lage prize. Alpine World has seven nights here from $3018 a per­son, in­clud­ing taxes, lift pass and flights ex Syd­ney. Stay 10 nights and get two free nights.

Big White, like Sun Peaks and Sil­ver Star, sits in the Okana­gan Val­ley wine coun­try and is a 45-minute drive from Kelowna air­port, a 30-minute flight from Van­cou­ver. Ski Max Qan­tas has a seven-night Big White deal from $2609 a per­son plus taxes, which in­cludes Syd­ney-Kelowna flights, trans­fers, ski in, ski out ac­com­mo­da­tion and lift pass.

The same com­pany of­fers seven nights at Kick­ing Horse stay­ing at Moun­taineer Lodge in a ho­tel-style room from $3290, with flights to Cal­gary and lift pass. Travel Max also has seven nights at Fernie from $3069 a per­son stay­ing at the fam­ily friendly Wolf’s Den Moun­tain Lodge, 50m from the base of the lifts, with lift pass and flights ex Syd­ney. All th­ese Travel Max deals must be booked and paid for by Au­gust 31 and are based on early Fe­bru­ary de­par­tures. Barry Oliver

Check­list

Travel Plan: 1300 130 754; www.trav­elplan.com.au. The Snow Travel Com­pany: 1300 660 690; www.snow­travel.com.au. Travel Max Qan­tas: 1300 136 997; www.ski­max.com.au. Alpine World: 1300 138 311; www.alpineworld.com.au.

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