Big Choice Of Intermediate Runs, “Master” Lessons, Bring Seniors Back Each Year.

The Alpine T-Bar serves low-angle intermediate terrain near the 7,606-foot summit of Big White. Credit: John Nelson

It’s hard to find a resort better suited to older skiers than the popular British Columbia destination of Big White.

Located in Okanagan region of B.C. near the bustling, fast-growing city of Kelowna, Big White is indeed big, with a sprawling village that boasts the most ski-in, ski-out lodging in Canada.

A skier turns amid the snow ghosts near the top of the Alpine T-Bar at Big White.
Credit: John Nelson

The resort’s rolling terrain of predominantly intermediate runs is especially popular with older skiers. In its lesson programs, Big White offers discounted “Masters Mondays” classes, and two popular “Masters’ Weeks” designed to teach older skiers how to keep shredding.

“Our retention rate is over 60 percent,” says Ollie McEvoy, one of the masters instructors. “If they take a lesson from us, they’ll come back.” The many skiers who take part in the masters’ week programs return every year after making personal connections, McEvoy says.

“They end up making friends for life,” he says.

For U.S. residents, Canadian resorts are particularly attractive this year, with a favorable exchange rate of more than 30 percent. Add to that a discount on senior tickets at more than 16 percent and U.S. skiers make out very well at one of Western Canada’s favorite resorts.

Ski instructor Ollie McEvoy helps run the masters programs at Big White. Credit: Big White Ski Resort

Snow, Terrain and More

  • Location: Big White is about 33 miles southeast of Kelowna, a city of more than 100,000 in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia. Kelowna has an international airport with daily flights from Seattle, as well as major cities in Canada.
  • Snowfall: “It’s the snow” is the marketing slogan for Big White. Located far inland from Canada’s west coast, Big White’s snow is colder and drier than rival Whistler-Blackcomb, and it receives about 300 inches a year.
  • Terrain, lifts: Intermediate skiers love the rolling terrain of Big White, where all 15 lifts have a green run down. About 72 percent of the terrain is rated easy or intermediate; 28 percent is rated expert and extreme. Five of the chairlifts are high-speed on more than 2,700 acres of skiable terrain.
  • Vertical: 2,656 feet from Big White summit (7,606 feet) to the base of the Gem Lake Express lift (4,950 feet).

Lot To Lift Access

  • Parking: Day-trippers can park at the Gem Lake base or at the Happy Valley Lodge. This is one resort where you should consider staying on mountain because of the vibrant and affordable ski-in, ski-out village scene.
  • Public transportation: Big White offers a shuttle service from the airport to the mountain village, so skiers flying into Kelowna do not need to book a rental car if they are staying on the mountain. In addition, an inter-resort shuttle operates between Whistler, Big White and Sun Peaks for skiers who want to try three of Canada’s biggest resorts.
  • Accommodations: Big White is built for skiers who want to stay on the mountain. Thousands of ski-in rooms are available in all price ranges, with many package deals that include lift tickets and meals.


  • The vibe: Friendly, with a pronounced Aussie accent. The resort, owned by an Australian family, attracts a large number of Aussie workers and vacationers, giving it a “no-worries, mate” feel.
  • Dining: The resort has 18 on-mountain restaurants in various price ranges. Among the very best is the Kettle Valley Steakhouse and Wine Bar at the Happy Valley base area, serving excellent upscale entrees with a long list of tasty, British Columbia wines.
  • Mountain life: Beyond the lift-skiing, Big White offers many other activities, including Nordic skiing, outdoor ice skating, tubing, snowshoeing and sleigh rides.

Bottom line

  • Big White is a major resort that does very well by older skiers, with vast intermediate terrain and popular masters instructional programs.
  • The strong U.S. dollar makes this Canadian resort particularly attractive for deal-hunters.
  • Excellent snow quality keeps the lifts spinning well into April.

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John Nelson is a freelance outdoors writer based in Seattle. Follow his blog at

Big White’s vibrant village has the most ski-in, ski-out lodging in Canada. Credit: Big White Ski Resort


One Comment

  1. Rick Controy says:

    Nice article. We skied Big White last year after a trip to Revelstoke. Wonderful resort and we had a great day. This year we are going to Sun Peaks. We are a fan of skiing in B.C.

    Just a note, flying to Kelowna is expensive. A flight from Seattle (50 min) is over $320 on a prop aircraft. Combine that with the first segment flight and it’s easily over $600.

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