Après ski scene: Loren Christie explores the Panorama Mountain Resort
Loren Christie, Canada AM travel expert
Published Friday, February 1, 2013 7:37AM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, February 5, 2013 2:59PM EST
If a ski vacation is in your near future, you certainly don't need to leave the country to enjoy fresh tracks, deep powder, an incredible après ski scene or some truly amazing ski resorts. I recently had the chance to travel along British Columbia's Powder Highway and check out an incredible destination called Panorama Mountain Resort. With 2800 acres of terrain, 4,000 vertical feet, more than 120 trails, two bowls and two terrain parks, Panorama is truly a winter wonderland.
Located close to the summer resort town of Invermere, Panorama is a former IntraWest Development. The current ownership group has done an outstanding job transforming Panorama and its Mountain Village into a true family destination. Theme nights, festivals, the largest slope side hot pools in Canada, a new tubing park, and an amazing ski school program are just some of the offerings. I had the opportunity to take a lesson and test drive the ski school's new flaik GPS system. Normally reserved for PanoKids groups and private kids' lessons, this tracking technology will be expanded to adult group activities in the future. It's being used in more and more resorts, allowing you to track your children's progress on the slopes year over year in different ski destinations.
For me the highlight was the helicopter ride to the summit for sunset followed by a fondue dinner (cheese, meat and chocolate) in Ray's charming alpine cabin. Of course, we had to work off our dinner so why not just ski down the mountain in the pitch black? Armed with headlamps and glow sticks we skied the entire six kilometres from the top to the village. It was one of those moments, you never forget. That awesome combination of exhilarating, slightly terrifying and absolutely beautiful.
The helicopter portion of the fondue experience is a six minute ride to the summit. The chopper I took is a flat $480. It can take a maximum of eight people so potentially the cost could be $60 plus tax per person. They do have different helicopters with different price points. The fondues start at $40 per person plus tax. Everyone gets a guide to take them down the mountain. Thank goodness!
RK Heliski www.rkheliski <http://www.rkheliski> has been serving the Purcell Backcountry for more than 40 years. If you want to try a full heliskiing experience, they do that too. They are somewhat unique in their offering of a one day three ($775) or five ($905) run experience, which is a great option for first-timers.
Panorama closes after the first week of April. That leaves two glorious winter months to check it out! Starting on February 3rd at noon until February 5th at 7 p.m. they are having an incredible 55 hour sale. What does that mean?
- Rooms for $55 per person/per night (conditions apply)
- Adult Lift Tickets for $55 per day
- Dinner for two for $55
- ½ Day Lessons for $55
- Childcare for $55