I love mountain life. Seasonaires live in a bubble – more like a snow globe – sheltered from the world outside the resort. Friendships, relationships, and families grow beneath the glass, bonding mountaineers together and separating them from the outside world. I speak from my own experience working on a ski resort in France (though that didn’t last long – see my story here).
At Big White, however, I am an outsider. This past weekend I managed to wriggle my way past the glass into BC’s alpine atmosphere. I stayed with a friend who lives on the hill and, despite all odds, felt perfectly at home.
My footprints are still fresh in the snow: follow these five steps to flourish at Biggie.
#1. Soak up the Sights
After living in Kelowna for 4 months, you would think I would be used to such views – but the fresh mountain air, cascading clouds, and swooping skiers amazed me. I was removed from the busy sights, smells, and sounds of the city. I slept on a couch next to a wide window that offered panoramic alpine views. When the sun came out and the clouds dispersed, the sky peeled back to reveal the striking mountain range. No matter where I was on the resort, I couldn’t stop taking pictures.
#2. Hit the Slopes!
While this is the most obvious point, it is also the one I wasn’t able to partake in, due to a horrific spinal injury I procured last January snowboarding in Alps d’Huez (read my story here). Skiers and boarders weaved around me, ranging in age from 5 to 50. Big White claims to be ‘Canada’s Favourite Family Resort’. With 118 runs spread over 2,765 acres of skiable terrain accessed by 16 lifts, Big White is Canada’s largest ski-in-ski-out resort village.
If (like me) you can’t ski or snowboard, there are plenty of other activities at Biggie: from ice skating to dog sledding to horse-drawn carriages to sliding down jumps on your butt – in this much powder, you’re never too old for some childish fun.
#3. Kick Back at Sam’s
When the sun goes down—or anytime, really—seasonaires and skiers migrate to Snowshoe Sam’s. My friends and I got competitive over pool and life-size Jenga, listened to live music, and watched my favourite hockey team get murdered by the Canucks. Sam’s is Big White’s hangout spot, but with Richelle’s opening up, there may be some competition on the mountain. I find it strange that there isn’t a nightclub or two on the hill, but it gives my new friends an excuse to visit me in Kelowna. They also drive down for groceries, because food is ridiculously expensive on the hill – though the 25-70% staff discount helps a lot.
#4. Learn to Speak Aussie
In my three days at Big White, I met heaps of Aussies, Kiwis, Germans, and Canadians—the four nationalities that are most notorious for travelling everywhere. I don’t mean this negatively – I was estatic to be surrounded by travellers and accents again. After all, as you can read in my travel article published by World Nomads (click here), I believe Australia is exactly the same as Canada–only hot. (Aussies come here for the snow; we go there for the sun!) Being a part of a make-shift foreign family only made me more nostalgic to travel – and more reluctant to come home.
#5. Take a Dip
My nostalgia was hitting hard – I never finished my season in France, and although it was wonderful to get a taste of Biggie’s lifestyle, I knew I’d have to leave soon. I trekked off with a couple of the girls to relax in one of their co-worker’s balcony hot tub. The three of us talked, laughed, and gazed out at the black sky that cloaked the snow-covered pine trees in dusk.
Private spas perch on the wooden ledges of various hotels and condos around Big White. Whether you have to make friends or sneak in, it’s all worth it for a dip.
I’m not lucky enough to live and work at Big White, but I am blessed to have friends on the mountain. For now, I am completely content to call Kelowna home. I know I’ll be back to Biggie to experience more of the mountain life, make new foreign friends, and leave a few footprints.