Ski: Why Canada is the place for snow-starved Brits

Canada is preparing for an influx of skiers who have lost confidence in European ski resorts after last season’s poor snow conditions.

Ski conditions are more reliable in the high mountain runs of the Candian Rockies, and with new hotels and facilities and more non-ski activities on offer, the top Canadian resorts are getting better every year.

Many operators are expanding their Canada programmes, and the 2007/08 season is hotly anticipated.

According to the Canadian Tourism Commission, 70,000 Britons skied or snowboarded in Canada between January and April 2006 and the figure increased by almost 10% this year. March showed a 12% increase on last year.

These increases are set to continue this winter, according to managing director Maggie Davison. “Some of our resorts have already had their first snowfall and we are looking forward to a great season.

“We had some of the best snow conditions last year and if you add the increased capacity and the buzz building up for the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Vancouver, we can confidently say you haven’t skied until you’ve skied in Canada.”

Significantly increased flight capacity means access to Canada is improving too. Air Canada has upped its non-stop winter flights from Heathrow to Edmonton from three to seven a week, while Canadian Affair has a new non-stop weekly service from Gatwick to Montreal.

Inghams has introduced scheduled flights with British Airways to Calgary twice a week and expanded capacity on its four charters into the city, which serves Banff, Lake Louise, Jasper, Fernie, Panorama and Kimberley.

Crystal Ski has doubled its capacity with seats on five flights to Calgary (up from two), and more seats available on the Vancouver route.

Inghams senior product manager Ian Britain added: “After a rocky start to the season in many parts of the Alps last winter, and a favourable exchange rate, sales to Canadian resorts this season are booming.”


Selling tips

Easy access: The ski slopes of Quebec are only six hours from the UK and those in the Canadian Rockies are only eight to 10 hours away.

Affordable prices: The on-ground costs are often less than European resorts and low-cost scheduled and charter flights are available to ski gateway cities.

Excellent snow: The season runs from mid-November to mid-April, with almost guaranteed snow. All major resorts have snow-making facilities and excellent grooming equipment.

Good facilities: Most resorts have short queues for ski lifts, large ski areas providing safe skiing and boarding, fast lifts and regularly upgraded facilities. Canada is famous for its powder and champagne powder snow and popular for heliskiing and snowboarding.

Non-ski activities: Canada offers a range of winter activities for non-skiers or boarders: ice-fishing, snow shoeing and dog sledding to name a few. Many hotels have spa facilities, hot tubs and shopping for those who would rather de-stress than ski or board.


Sample packages

Inghams has seven nights at Stanford Resort, Fernie, from £444 per person based on four sharing, including return flights and transfers in January 2008. 

Virgin Holidays has seven nights at the Rimrock Resort Hotel, Banff, from £959 per adult twin-share in a superior room including return flights and transfers. Valid for travel between December 1 and 12.

Travelpack has seven nights at the Banff Inn, Banff, from £413 per adult twin-share, including return flights and transfers for travel between December 1 and 14.


Find out more

See for general ski information. Agents who want to learn more about Canadian ski product can sign up to the Canada Specialist Programme – there’s a dedicated winter module once you’re past the first stage.

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