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| by KATE POCOCK
Family Travel Ink
Ski Resorts are Busier than Ever in Summer
“We had the best vacation ever,” exclaimed one mom who had just come back from a holiday with her two 13-year-old daughters. Such words are music to parents’ ears. So what made it so great? “We roller bladed around the sidewalks, had some great meals, heard a symphony concert, and took a guided walking tour,” my friend answered. It sounded as if they had just come back from a fast-paced city getaway but no, they had just come back from a ski resort in Aspen, Colorado. “It’s so much better there in the summer than in the winter,” the mom added. “We’re definitely going back.”
Wait a minute. Why go to a ski resort in the summertime? Aren’t things shut down, staff laid off, hills barren of activity? Well, no. In fact the people at resorts such as Whistler say that, believe it or not, they’re busier with families in the summer than during ski season. Not only do the kids have all that open space to play in but there are activities galore. You’ve got the mountains for hiking and mountain biking, lakes filled with melted snow for sailing or canoeing, chairlift rides with amazing views, and enough accommodation so that there’s never no room at the Inn. These days, the resorts are competing further with interesting activities such as circus school, Voyageur canoes, astronomy on top of the mountain at night, and even bird watching for kids. In the resort villages, there’s often a party atmosphere with strolling musicians and outdoor theatre, blues concerts and balloons.
Our excited mom didn’t have to go to Colorado however to have such a good time. Ski resorts right here in Canada are gearing up for a family-friendly summer, Here’s a couple that aim to please:
SUN PEAKS RESORT, BRITISH COLUMBIA: About 50 km from the Kamloops airport and four hours from Vancouver lies Sun Peaks, where former Olympic Champion Nancy Greene is director of skiing. Voted by Canadian Ski magazine as having the Best Kid Resort Features in the winter, the place literally blossoms in summer. In fact, there are so many alpine flowers on the mountains between July 21 and August 12, it’s like Switzerland. But your kids probably won’t have time to stop and smell the flowers. They can take a lesson in Western Riding and join a trail ride through the mountains, stroll along the mossy Shuswap Medicine Trail developed by members of the Shuswap First Nations, play tennis or golf, canoe across the lake or enjoy a soak in the outdoor or toddler pools. For teens who are want to try mountain biking, there are over 60 km of trails. No need to walk your bike up the mountain. The high-speed Sunburst Express chairlift, operating from June 23 to October 8, offers bike racks for an easy ascent. Family packages such as the Ice Cream Ride two-day stay includes guided trail rides and hiking tours, lift pass, ice cream and lunch and two nights accommodation; prices start at $249 per adult, kids are free. Call 1-800-807-3257 or visit www.sunpeaksresort.com.
MONT-SAINTE-ANNE, QUEBEC: Just 20 minutes from Quebec City is Mont-Sainte-Anne, home to the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup for more than ten years running. The weekend itself is full of hoopla with bike movies under the big top, amateur races, music and bike races. But this top North American east biking center offers 200 km of trails and 14 runs any time. An added bonus: free showers for bikes. Families with younger kids may enjoy staying at the Mont-Sainte-Anne campground (just 8 km east) where prices start at $21 for a camping spot. With giant checkers and chess, bird watching tours, a petting farm, movies, and a lake, there’s enough to keep the little ones amused. Call 1-800-463-1568. More structured activities can be found at the base of the mountain at Château Mont-Sainte-Anne where the kids can sign up for a kid’s camp while mom (and dad) book in at the spa. Rooms start at $104 for two adults and two kids under 17; kids summer camp costs $20 per day. Call 1-888-824-2832 or visit www.chateaumontsainteanne.com.
WHISTLER, BRITISH COLUMBIA: Even staff who are devoted skiers love the summertime here at this resort about a two-hour drive north of Vancouver. A total blast says one member is the water sports—everything from kayaks and canoes to rafting and float planes. Then, there’s the Adventure Zone at the base of the mountain where kids can jump trampoline fixed into a harness, scamper up the climbing wall, or careen down a luge slide. This is extreme sport kid-style. There’s a paved network of trails for roller blading or biking—even little kids can cycle to one of the lakes to have a paddle. For those who want to venture into the back country, it’s easily accessible. Guests at the Château Whistler can take advantage of their bear watch program, where a bear expert guides families to their habitat. There are so many packages and places to stay, it’s best to call 1-800-WHISTLER or visit www.tourismwhistler.com. But those on a budget could stay at the youth hostel on Alta Lake. In a prime location, there’s a family room that starts at only
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