Cross-border travel is getting easier, which makes a Canadian ski holiday sound extra appealing as the season approaches. Add in the growing popularity of national park visits – Banff National Park is home to all SkiBig3 resorts – and always appreciated terrain upgrades (SkiBig3 resorts are on a roll), and you’d be hard-pressed to find a reason not to visit this season. Banff Sunshine, Lake Louise Ski Resort and Mt. Norquay are calling, and you must go. Here’s why:
First Full Season for New Chair, Trails at Lake Louise…
Juniper Express Chair will open for its first full season of operations for winter 2022-23 (the lift opened in February 2022). Juniper Express Chair and its five dedicated blue trails provide the perfect area for beginner and low intermediate skiers to practice their skills and build their confidence, allowing them to experience big mountains in a safe, welcoming space. This area makes progressing from the learning area to the top of the mountain more accessible. It also improves access to Lake Louise’s Boulevard terrain park for freestyle ski and snowboard enthusiasts. Juniper Express Chair features triangular footrests on each chair, instead of the traditional t-style footrests. The tab footrests make resting easier for beginners and safer for children.
… And There’s More to Come
Juniper Express Chair is the first phase of a new two-chair route to reach Summit Base; another high-speed quad is planned for the top of Juniper to the bottom of Summit Quad. This future development will enhance access to the resort’s West Bowl, a world-class 480-acre free ride zone on the front side of Whitehorn Mountain. The area offers some of the most exciting and technical in-bounds terrain in Canada for intermediate to expert skiers and snowboarders.
West Bowl is Still New to Americans
Lake Louise’s West Bowl allows riders to explore more endless glades, steep trees, and powder pockets — 480 additional acres, to be precise. The terrain opened during the 2020-21 season (while the border was closed), so international guests experienced it for the first time last season. This vast natural terrain area within the Lake Louise ski boundary is located west of the ski resort’s base area, and features some of the best advanced-intermediate-to-expert terrain in Banff National Park. West Bowl is accessed via the new Summit Quad Chair, a four-minute ride up the ridge of Whitehorn Mountain, providing access to West Bowl terrain and the resort’s back bowls.
4-3-2-1: Four Resorts, Three Fairmont Properties and Two National Parks with One Pass
With the new addition of Marmot Basin to the Mountain Collective pass, it’s the perfect year to take a Canadian ski road trip and experience the fabled Canadian Rockies and four of Canada’s most popular ski resorts. Ski and snowboard at Banff Sunshine, Lake Louise Ski Resort, Mt. Norquay and Marmot Basin. To make it a true bucket list vacation, stay at three luxurious Fairmont properties during your ski-venture: the castle-like Fairmont Banff Springs, the iconic Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, and the 100-year-old (this year!) Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, with its luxury cedar chalets and signature cabins spread across 700 acres. These resorts are in two National Parks: Banff and Jasper National Parks. Both parks were declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1984 because of the breathtaking mountain landscapes rife with dramatic mountain peaks, glaciers, lakes, canyons and more that make them natural treasures on a global scale. Just one pass, the Mountain Collective, makes this ultimate Canadian ski road trip possible. Score two days each at these dream destinations. Details here.
WHERE TO EAT, DRINK, AND SLEEP
Beloved Lunch Stop Makes a Clever Comeback
Closed for operations during the pandemic, Mt. Norquay’s iconic Cliffhouse Bistro is expected to open for grab-and-go food service in winter 2022-’23. Located at 2,100 m (6,900 ft) at the top of the resort’s scenic chairlift, Cliffhouse Bistro has been Banff’s best lunch spot since the 1950s.
On-Mountain Restaurants at Lake Louise Re-Open
The pandemic forced many of Lake Louise Ski Resort’s beloved on-mountain restaurants to remain closed over the past two seasons. Those favorites, including Kama Yama Sushi, Temple Cantina, and Whitehorn Bistro, are anticipated to re-open for the 2022-23 season.
Banff’s Newest Dining and Drinks Darlings
Bluebird: (opening September 2022) – After a bluebird day on the hill, unwind at Bluebird, Banff’s newest eatery located on two levels of a historic Banff building. The mid-century chalet setting is only topped by the restaurant’s fun, cocktail-fueled dinner-party vibe. Tuck into wood-fired meats and fish and fire-roasted vegetables cooked on the hearth in the open concept kitchen. Sidle up to one of two bars or camp out in the cozy lounge to sip familiar classic cocktails with a tropical vibe.
Lupo: (opened in March 2022) – Featuring one of the best mountain-view rooftop patios in downtown Banff, Lupo recently opened to much acclaim. The market-inspired open kitchen churns out authentic Italian fare, including wood-fired pizzas and house-made pastas like lobster ravioli, bucatini carbonara, ricotta dumplings and more. Family-style main dishes and an extensive wine list — more than 150 bottles of vino Italiano — makes it a memorable spot to toast a perfect day on the hill with family and friends.
Lodging Updates and Upgrades
Peaks Hotel & Suites Banff: Owned by Banff Park Lodge, this modern boutique hotel opened in 2021 and is now ranked #1 Hotel in Banff on TripAdvisor. Located in the heart of downtown Banff, the 71-room hotel boasts mountain views paired with luxurious accommodations and amenities, including heated underground parking, a hotel “living room” with a stone fireplace, and access to its sister hotel’s indoor pool, plunge pool, hot tub, steam room and fitness room.
The Dorothy Motel: Banff’s first boutique motel opened in March 2021. Offering “accommodations made simple,” the motel pays homage to famous and pioneering women in Banff Lake Louise’s history who embodied a spirit of strength and adventure. Along with clean, modern rooms, the amenities at this pet-friendly property include exterior room entrances, mobile check in/check out and key access, mini fridges and microwaves, and an outdoor courtyard perfect for socializing.
Banff Aspen: The property unveiled a fresh new look in spring 2022, featuring natural wood highlights, modern artwork, bold monochrome style and subtle Canadian Rocky Mountain touches. Fuel up with a full Canadian Rockies continental breakfast before hitting the slopes. Additional amenities include a large outdoor hot tub, sauna/steam room, ski workbench, WiFi and more. Fuel up at Whitebark Café – favored by locals – before hitting the slopes
The Juniper: For a unique, out-of-town experience, book a room at The Juniper, a 52-room boutique hotel at the base of Mt. Norquay with sweeping views of the Bow Valley. The award-winning Juniper Bistro serves up tasty fare sourced from regional farmers and suppliers.
Buffalo Mountain Lodge: Perched atop Tunnel Mountain, this peaceful mountain retreat is a hidden gem with cabin-style rooms replete with wood burning fireplaces. Nosh on mountain-themed tapas, game meats, shareables and house-made pastas at the beautiful new restaurant, The Prow.
PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE
Sunshine Village Ski Area is developing a new Long-Range Plan to enhance the resort, while focusing on guest experience, education and environmental sustainability. For a full report on facility and resort upgrades, please see the long range plan and detail impact assessment. Highlights include:
New Wolverine Day Lodge: Expected to open by winter 2026-27. Located at the top of the existing Wolverine and Jackrabbit chairlifts. The development includes the construction of up to 1,848 square meters of commercial space. The project also includes a short (330 m) ski way to reduce congestion to the northeast. The Wolverine Day Lodge site enhances skier distribution across the resort and serves protected below treeline and easy ski terrain, while also offering day lodge services to this area featuring two lifts (Jackrabbit and Wolverine). No services exist there currently.
Goat’s Eye II chairlift and glades, and the addition of chair capacity and chair parking rail extension on the existing TeePee Town LX chairlift: Construction of a detachable high-speed four- or six-person chairlift with an uphill design capacity of 2,600 people per hour (on Goat’s Eye) expected to open by winter 2026-27. Increasing chairs on TeePee Town lift (addition of 24 chairs) will take uphill capacity from 1,200 people per hour to 1,800 people per hour – a big improvement to the visitor experience.
WHY VISIT THIS SEASON?
World Cup Racing Returns
World Cup racing returns to Lake Louise Nov. 25 -Dec. 4, 2022. Lake Louise is the first stop on the World Cup tour, one of just a few stops in North America on the circuit, and the only one in a National Park. Besides the up-close athlete sightings, you’ll discover uncrowded slopes at SkiBig3 (no Canadian holidays this week), lower lodging prices in Banff, traditionally strong early season snowfall, winter festivities and special events surrounding the races. The men race Nov. 25 – 27; the women race Dec. 2 – 4. Of note: Last season, World Cup fans enjoyed a surprise; so much snowfall the first of two men’s World Cup downhills had to be cancelled. Guests happily took to the slopes to enjoy the fresh powder and resumed race-watching the following day.
Book With Confidence
Understanding flexibility is crucial right now, SkiBig3 offers a No Questions Asked Cancellation Policy, allowing for free itinerary changes and full cancellation refund on ski & stay packages up to 14 days from travel.
Getting Here is Easy
Located a short flight from any American city (a little over two hours from Denver; three hours or less from Los Angeles or San Francisco; and a little over four hours from Dallas, all of which are direct flights), a SkiBig3 trip is the easiest and most memorable international ski destination option. Mt. Norquay and Sunshine Village ski areas are located closest to the town of Banff, situated approximately 90 minutes away from Calgary International Airport. And Lake Louise Ski Resort is located just over two hours from Calgary International Airport.
International Travel Requirements for Canada
As of Aug. 9, 2021, American citizens and permanent residents of the U.S. who are fully vaccinated can enter Canada for discretionary travel. Pre-entry covid tests are not required for fully vaccinated travelers entering Canada by land, air or water. Foreign nationals, ages 12 and above, coming to Canada are required to be vaccinated, unless they meet one of the criteria for exemption. As part of this process all international visitors will need the ArriveCAN Ap which provides approved vaccine verification. Travelers may be selected for random testing upon entry to Canada. If fully vaccinated, no quarantine is required while awaiting test results. Masks are still required within Canadian airports. Visit the Health & Safety Protocols page for the latest details and policy updates.
If you’re thinking about a ski trip to Canada this winter, our reservations team will be happy to help you book anytime. Give them a call at 1-844-754-2443 or go online to access some exceptional Ski & Stay Package deals.