Returning "Home" to Sun Peaks
Our customers Andrew and Teresa Broughton have been travelling to Canada with us since 2012, and after their fourth visit to Sun Peaks last month, Andrew wanted to share what keeps them coming back to Canada's second largest ski resort. Thanks, Andrew!
"Returning to Sun Peaks for our fourth season I really did feel like the Wookie finding himself back on the Millennium Falcon in the recent Star Wars reboot when my wife turned to me and said: “Chewie, we’re home”. Despite having been born and raised in the UK, working in the overcrowded environment that is London, and the seventeen hours of travelling to get there from our home in Bedfordshire, it really does evoke those feelings on arriving back in this picturesque Canadian resort in the heart of British Columbia (BC).
Its mountains may not be as high and dramatic as some others in Western Canada (it is not part of the Rockies for instance) but with its being the second-largest ski area in BC there are more than enough runs for every level of skier, and the views are just as beautiful, particularly on the bluebird days. Plus, even on the busiest days of the year you are never more than third or fourth in line for the next chair on any of the lifts (on the newly installed Orient I think we were only not first in line once in two weeks!) With three mountains within the resort there are different options during the day; as the sun starts to warm up Sundance and Tod Mountains on the north side of the valley and turn the snow a little slushy underfoot, you can head over to the gladed runs of Mount Morrisey on the south side for some afternoon fun. The aforementioned Orient Quad now allows easier access back to the village after visiting Morrisey rather than trudging through the tunnel with your skies over your shoulder.
The Stones Throw condos that we stayed in are well-furnished, comfortable and have the added comfort of a private hot tub on the balcony (which was well-used during our two week stay). In addition, we had decided to use a local company, Sun Peaks Cargo, that shops on your behalf – you place the order via a click and collect online portal from a local store - and then deposits your order into the apartment ahead of your arrival. This is without doubt a facility we would use in the future (they even paid for the shop as we were unable to purchase it with our UK cards) as there is nothing better than knowing you have coffee available the moment you wake up on your first morning, believe me.
The newly installed Orient Quad, completed in December 2018, makes these condos truly ski-in/ski-out with a short glide from outside the buildings to the lift (if you can fight your way through the ‘huge’ queues... one morning there were 4 other people in front of us) and a short ride up to drop you onto the Rambler green run back down into the village saving you the slight inconvenience of waiting on the in-resort shuttle to take you into town. As a side note the increase of this shuttle to run into the evenings this season is a great idea and one that we took advantage of a couple of times when it was a little too cold to walk back after dinner! Skiing back to the condo is also relatively straightforward via one of the many blue runs (‘Ausfahrt’ was a favoured option) over this side of the mountain or the always optional green run that exists off of every chairlift to aid the less confident skier.
The facilities of Sun Peaks aren’t as extensive as some of its Canadian or European brethren but this maintains the village-y feel to the place where you will often bump into many of the locals, instructors and new friends that you have made during your stay, or quite likely while you are in the restaurant or bar as everyone is very friendly.
Bottoms Bar & Grill is still the best place here for a great après-ski vibe (don’t try the nachos unless you have friends with you), and only a brave person takes on more than one of the ‘bullfrogs' (a margherita with a small bottle of beer stuck into it!), and the recently refurbished Cahilty Creek Kitchen & Taproom did some great food and beer options, including a particularly excellent series of breakfast options. Morrisey’s and Masa’s also do very good food and drink options at the ‘bar’ end of the scale, and there are a few good options for restaurants too: The Steakhouse and Oya (Japanese) are both very good options staying true to their particular styles of cuisine, with the latter being one of the best of its type that my wife has tried anywhere. However, when it comes to food there are two venues that are the stand-out for very different reasons.
Voyageur Bistro in Kookaburra Lodge is the best restaurant in Sun Peaks for food, with an almost fine dining feel to its menu where it concentrates on local foods such as Elk, Bison, Boar and Bannock that are full of flavour, combined with an extensive wine collection, and also produces an outstanding brunch available on Sundays. It is however on the pricey side for the resort, but well worth it. We even popped in on the way home from another restaurant and found ourselves sampling some of their exceptional cocktails sat at the bar watching the ubiquitous ice hockey game for a great end to the evening. The other great food choice here is the one that everyone has to try when coming here; Mountain High Pizza. It is simply the best pizza we have tasted anywhere, and to make things even better they now provide both a free delivery service (which we utilized on our first night in situ...and possibly again later during the stay...) as well as a ‘Take and bake’ option. Oh, and they also serve it by the slice for when you are on the run during your day on the mountain.
For those mornings and lunchtime snacks there are the Annex Day and Sunburst Lodges, the latter being located at the top of the Sunburst chair, both of which serve the famous local cinnamon buns (but be quick they generally sell out before lunchtime), and the former serving the best poutine* on the mountain even with a vegetarian option! But anyone having stayed here will tell you that you must go to visit Konrad in his Bolacco Café located in the main village for both a genuinely friendly welcome from the owner and a must-try: the Kolbasa sandwich.
Sun Peaks is truly a gem hidden away as it is from some of the main areas that holidaymakers visit in BC such as Whistler, Kicking Horse, Big White and Revelstoke amongst others, attracting their attentions. However, it has huge amounts of ski terrain to offer, a genuinely welcoming (and truly Canadian) feel to its village setting and the nirvana of all skiers: almost non-existent lift queues. Over the next few years, there are more expansions planned to keep up with demand so that both more accommodations and increased ski area, and lifts to access them, are going to be built with the express ambition of maintaining those limited lift queues whilst enhancing the facilities and the potential of the resort.
I for one will be back regularly, both to enjoy its laid back feel and excellent skiing, and to see how it progresses, and you may even find my wife and I as permanent residents in the coming years.
* For anyone who doesn’t know this is a traditional Canadian dish of chips, gravy and cheese curds, which tastes a whole lot better than the idea sounds!"
One of the handful of non-skiers before joining Ski Safari, I've now skied in North America, Europe and Asia and can't imagine a winter without at least one ski trip!