SO YOU DON’T SKI!
No problem. There are so many more options non-skiers can enjoy at winter resorts.
DON’T BE LEFT OUT, you have clout. Skiers in your life may already be well aware that even in Canada, only a small percentage of the population has a penchant for skiing, so no sheepish explanations are necessary. Go along on any mountain-bound trip to please the skiers as well as yourself.
In what way, you might ask? Perhaps your personalized plan should first identify why it is you don’t or won’t ski. Maybe you never had the opportunity to try it, so here’s your chance to take lessons. Just as often, however, barriers to downhill skiing and snowboarding involve fear, doubt, dislike of windy cold temperatures or simply no interest in running the risk of slipping, sliding and tumbling. Be assured that you’re in a pretty big club.
While action-packed hillsides always give the impression everyone else in the world can ski, industry data actually indicates that approximately seven per cent of Canadians are downhill skiers, around four per cent cross-country ski, and four per cent are snowboarders. So it’s no wonder winter resorts have fashioned themselves to offer so much more than snow sports.
Frosty-air sports are credited, of course, for that glow of well-being among active participants, a fulfillment boosted by the attentive services and multiple activities, dining choices, and entertainment in resort hotels and trendy villages. Official websites provide details and guide non-skiers to pages such as Winter Activities, Beyond Skiing, or While You Are Here.
B.C.’S COAST MOUNTAINS
Known for such majestic resorts as Fernie, Big White, Grouse Mountain and Panorama Mountain Village, this west coast winter wonderland also delivers Whistler Blackcomb, a thrilling must-do on your ski-trip list. Non-skiers are encouraged at whistlerblackcomb.com to spend time fully discovering Whistler Village’s restaurants, boutiques and lounges and bars. Afterwards, if you want more of an adrenalin rush, sign up for a helicopter tour or for winter zip lining. Then add absolute replenishment by heading straight to the Scandinave Spa to revitalize your skin, relax those muscles and calm your mind. Or check into Nita Lake Lodge’s (nitalakelodge.com) new Sleep Therapy package, which uses chakra and sound healing techniques to realign your body’s rhythms and restore balance.
ALBERTA’S ROCKY MOUNTAINS
Wonderment is endless here and the mountains are especially bewildering at the
Marmot Basin in Jasper, in the Sunshine Village of Banff, and at the Lake Louise Ski Resort. The website, skilouise.com, entices you with guided tours for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. For an unforgettable experience deep within the silent, snowy Rockies, hop on board the winter sightseeing gondola, a 14-minute, fully enclosed aerial lift that takes you through valleys of soaring white peaks, over mammoth icy glaciers, and almost disappears into the stark imposing rock face as far as the eye can see. The gondola is known to return to basecamp with utterly speechless participants.
ONTARIO’S NIAGARA ESCARPMENT
True ski buffs never let the lack of a real mountain get in the way of their sport and in southern Ontario they’ve keenly cultivated dozens of choices on the Niagara Escarpment and the Oak Ridges Moraine. All snow sports are alive and well for instance at Dagmar, Glen Eden, Hockley Valley, Hidden Valley, Mount St. Louis Moonstone, and winter vacations are particularly memorable at the Blue Mountain Resort. When browsing bluemountain.ca, non-skiers might contemplate ice skating, downhill tubing or the thrill of a slope-side rollercoaster. Afterwards, if you add any measure of hydrotherapy in the spa, do expect your mood to mellow for the rest of the day.
As luck would have it, la belle province contains one of the oldest mountain ranges on Earth. Rising to 1,166 metres, the Laurentians date back no less than a half-billion years, ample time, one might say, to perfect the services for any skier who frequents Mont-tremblant, Saint-sauveur, Montsainte-anne, Le Relais, Le Massif de Charlevoix or the Stoneham Mountain Resort. On the ski-stoneham.com site, picture yourself all aglow from skating, snowmobiling, spa treatments, or—armed with a pair of (rented) snowshoes and a Gps-equipped mobile device—from the thrill of finding all of Stoneham’s geocaching treasure.
VERMONT’S GREEN MOUNTAINS
The sky-high peaks of eastern North America continue well south of the Canadian border and Vermont, like Québec, has cultivated all of its snow-sport opportunities. The Green Mountains (of the Appalachians) are home to such resorts as Killington, Sugarbush, Jay Peak and the ever-popular Stowe Mountain Resort. Browse through those websites for inviting ideas. At stowe.com, for example, envision snowshoeing, skating, indoor rock climbing, and cross-country skiing. Or, rejuvenate in a different way with tickets to a stage show, day or night, at the Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center.
COLORADO’S ROCKY MOUNTAINS
Spanning 4,800 kilometres from far north in British Columbia to the edge of New Mexico, this stop promises an elating Rocky Mountain high. Travel to Vail, Breckenridge, Keystone, Copper Mountain, Beaver Creek, Telluride or to the heart of Aspen Mountain in the village of Snowmass. On aspensnow mass.com, picture yourself on ecoresponsible tours for photography or learning about the wilds of nature, followed, undoubtedly, by the wilder Aspen après-ski scene where indulgence is just the starting point. Champagne, for instance, is never popped later than at lunchtime and, if that sounds too classy to be wild, keep an eye out for how champagne is dispensed high on the mountainside by the arrival of a snowcat pulling a pop-up mobile bar.
LEFT: Snowshoeing with Aspen Center for Environmental Studies. ACES BOTTOM: Relaxing at the Scandinave Spa in Whistler. Scandinave Spa, Whistler
ABOVE: Thrill-seekers love the Ridge Runner Mountain Coaster at the Blue Mountain Resort in Ontario. Marc Landry BELOW: Relax at Nita Lake Lodge, Whistler’s only lakeside property and a leading destination for wellness. Nita Lake Lodge BOTTOM: Enjoy a gondola ride at Lake Louise. Lake Louise Ski Resort