THINK of skiing in Canada and several big name resorts are likely to spring to mind.
The likes of Whistler, Banff and Lake Louise have been established in the UK market for at least 20 years and continue to attract the majority of skiers, which is hardly surprising given that they are relatively easy to get to and offer world-class facilities and skiing.
However, Canada has many more lesser-known resorts which are being featured by a growing number of UK tour operators who have recognised that biggest is not always best for their clients.
While it’s the repeat visitor who will most likely try to seek out these lesser-known ski areas, many novice skiers should also be steered towards resorts they’ve probably never heard of before.
Frontier Ski marketing manager Dave Ashmore said: “The big name resorts are certainly big, but beginners don’t need a big ski area and families might prefer a resort where they can all ski together,” he said.
“Canada has a million and one resorts,” said Neilson managing director Peter Tyler. “It’s a question of finding the one that suits.”
We couldn’t agree more, so where should you send your clients this winter? Look no further than our handy list:
Whistler, British Columbia
Suits: everyone, which is what you’d expect from North America’s largest ski area. It boasts 200 marked runs, so there’s something to suit all abilities, plus 10 powder bowls.
Don’t miss: if you’re going to try heli-skiing, this is the place to do it. Also, check out the totally cool new Adara Hotel near the gondolas – even if it’s just for a spot of après ski.
Sample package: Ski Independence offers 10 nights’ bed and breakfast at the five-star Fairmont Chateau, Whistler from £1,455 per person, including flights and one free day’s skiing, departing January 15.
On the web:Whistlerblackcomb.com
Big White, British Columbia
Suits: families, the resort is compact by European standards with most activities and accommodation located in one area; many apartments are slope-side. There’s a good ski school and a kindergarten, and lots of runs suited to beginners and intermediates.
Don’t miss: a new six-person ski lift will cut the time it takes to get up the mountain this year.
Sample package:Frontier Ski offers seven nights for a family of four in a one-bedroom condo from £1,077 per adult and £491.50 per child, including flights and lift passes, departing on January 15.
On the web:Bigwhite.com
Mount Tremblant, Quebec
Suits: almost every level of skier, though there’s nothing too extreme here. As this is in a French-speaking area it offers a more continental flavour than other Canadian resorts and appeals to the increasing number of skiers who want a mix of sport and culture.
Don’t miss: A sightseeing trip to Montreal, which can be easily tagged on to the beginning or end of a ski trip.
Sample package: Crystal offers seven nights’ self-catering in The Grand Lodge from £415 per person, based on four sharing, including flights and transfers, departing on January 10.
On the web:Tremblant.ca
Suits: With a green run off every lift in the three major ski areas (Lake Louise, Sunshine and Mount Norquay), it’s great for novice and intermediate skiers. Sunshine is best for more advanced skiers.
Don’t miss:Sunshine Village, which is covered by the free shuttle bus and Tri-Area lift pass, has a new terrain park and a new halfpipe.
Sample package: Virgin Snow has seven nights’ bed and breakfast at Brewsters Mountain Lodge in Banff from £735 per person, based on two sharing and including flights and car hire departing on January 13.
On the web:Banfflakelouise.com
Quebec City resorts
Suits: After a bit of culture? Quebec City is the base for three small resorts all within an hour’s drive: Stoneham, Mont St Anne and Le Massif, all are linked by one lift pass. The city has superb restaurants and is home to the famous Chateau Frontenac, a Fairmont hotel.
Don’t miss:Mont St Anne is the biggest of the three and Stoneham is the closest, but Le Massif is the most unusual – it’s in an a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve for a start. It’s also got the biggest vertical drop east of the Rockies – 770 metres – and the top station has great views over the St Lawrence River.
Sample package:Frontier offers seven nights at the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City from £1,023 this January including flights and car hire.
On the web:Skiquebec.qc.ca
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