The promise of a winter wonderland paired with a host of après ski delights had our crew excited to get to our destination, Big White Ski Resort, just a short drive from the Kelowna Ale Trail.
With hardly any snow in the valley, this season heading up to Big White Ski Resort from Kelowna for skiing seemed surreal. The closer we neared the ski region, the more the white magic appeared along the roadside and its depth increased as we climbed. Inside the car, the three skiers became giddy and as if on cue, the clouds released big fluffy snowflakes.
We checked into our base camp for this expedition, the well-positioned Inn at Big White. Our vehicle was safely tucked away in its warm parking garage from which we could easily explore the village and skiing. Staff are welcoming and accommodating. The room was comfy with a queen bed and murphy bed, private bath, fireplace and television for your entertainment. It has a small kitchenette equipped with a coffee maker, kettle, microwave, hot plate, mini-fridge and dishes so there’s a choice to take some meals in which we did at breakfast. To ease those ski muscles, the Inn has a pool and hot tub.
Amenities and Activities
There’s much to discover on the hill starting, of course, with the many outdoor amenities. In addition to skiing and snowboarding, there’s cross-country and snowshoe trails, tubing, ice climbing, skating, fat biking, horse-drawn sleigh and dog sled rides, and snowmobiling. There are even Mini-Z miniature snowmobiles for kids.
On the hill, you’ll find full spa services; fitness facilities; health and medical clinics; sports equipment shops and repairs; ski schools and rentals; a resort shuttle; and sitters for babies, pets and homes. There’s a grocery and liquor store where you’ll find a selection of craft beers.
Let’s get to the après!
Complementing these activities are restaurants and bars with local BC craft beers increasingly showing up on the taps for après ski beverages. At Big White, the craft beer scene goes one better with Canada’s highest elevation brewery – Elevation 57 Brewing Company – situated on site at Sessions Taphouse & Grill.
We wrangled assistant brewer Jeff MacLean for a tour of the brewing facility located on the lower level. We were given tastes of Booter Blonde Ale, Hazy Pale Ale, Involuntary Dismount IPA, and Smoked Porter, and found the beer to our liking. I later learned that the head brewer is Brandon Amond who brewed beer at Kettle River Brewing Co, which is one of my Kelowna favourites.
Sessions Taphouse has a gaming centre including Trapped Escape Rooms that you can rent complete with riddles, puzzles and clues to test your problem-solving skills to escape.
Of course, if you stay in town there’s a shuttle to and from Big White and you’ll want to add on to your stay to explore the many craft breweries on the Kelowna Ale Trail and a few new additions to the town. Tree Brewing is one of the originals and in its vicinity, discover Vice & Virtue Brewing Co, Red Bird Brewing Inc. Still in the downtown quadrant, there’s BNA Brewing Co. where you can bowl along with the brews, and the trendy Tree Brewing Beer Institute, offspring of Tree Brewing. If you’d like access to a host of options under one roof, there’s CRAFT Beer Market on Bernard Avenue.
If you head south across Bennett Bridge, Kind Brewing is found along Main Street, West Kelowna.
More Craft Beer
The appetite for well-crafted brews keeps building and so, too, are new breweries popping up to satisfy that craving. Under construction is Rustic Reel Brewing at 760 Vaughan Avenue. Jennifer Widmer, Tourism Kelowna, reports there are others in “various stages of life; many just getting licensing” including four in Kelowna, one in West Kelowna, and another in Lake Country.
Wherever your snowy adventures lead you in Kelowna, it’s safe to say après ski ales is a delicious part of your discoveries.