Top 5 new things at western Canada ski resorts in 2021-22
New COVID-19 policies, new resort infrastructure and more - what's new at Alberta and BC ski resorts for 2021-22.
As a new ski season gets underway, you'll often notice a few changes at your favourite Alberta or BC ski resorts. Offseason upgrades are a common part of the annual resort cycle, and a little facelift here or there does wonders for the guest experience. New lifts, new runs and new features always get us stoked for first tracks.
To help you get acclimated, we're counting down the top five new things SnowSeekers discovered from around the ski industry in Western Canada.
5. New COVID policy
What continued COVID-19 restrictions mean for ski season 2021-22
Yes, it can be tiring to constantly hear about it, but COVID restrictions will change how you can access the resorts this year, and we want to help you be ready. Above all, slowing the spread at resorts will help the industry stay open for the season.
COVID-19 rules are still in place and the mountain resorts in BC and Alberta are taking them seriously. Respect the request for physical distancing, wear your masks, wash your hands and here’s the new biggie – if you plan to use the lodges, patios, bars or the indoor restaurants or washrooms, bring your proof of vaccination.
While some resorts are allowing unvaccinated people to ride the gondolas and lifts while wearing a mask, Resorts including Revelstoke and RCR are taking it one step further and expect all people 12 years of age or older to be fully vaccinated to ride the lifts. The COVID-19 rules constantly change so check with the resort before you depart.
On the positive side, in the last year many resorts have fast-tracked their direct-to-lift services and streamlined low-contact access, so if you plan ahead you can bypass some of the lines and get to the goods faster. (Check Number 4 for more details.)
4. New resort infrastructure
Lifts, snowmaking, lodging and infrastructure upgrades top list of enhancements for ski resorts in 2021-22
Castle Mountain is investing 1.5 million into resort improvement and starting this season with new snowmaking facilities making its way to Gravenstafe Mountain. This will double the amount of snow it makes, allowing more terrain to be accessed in the early season and during those rough patches when the Chinooks blow through. For the folks signing up for cat skiing adventures be prepared to ride in style. A new stagecoach is arriving with deluxe bucket seats, two cabin heaters and just like every first class ticket, charging systems for your pocket electronics.
Lake Louise is growing again! By January, riders and skiers will have another chair accessing more terrain on the front side. The new Juniper Express Quad will take visitors up to the junction of the Men’s Downhill, Juniper Jungle and West Bowl egress runs. All three runs take everyone via primarily beginner and intermediate runs back to the main area. For those of you who tried out the West Bowl last season, the runs and route back to the lift have been enhanced.
Fernie Alpine Resort is making it easier to unload off Polar Peak lift by adding a snowblower to shift the snow to exactly where it’s needed. And, extra grooming is happening to the bottom of Currie Bowl making the exit experience more pleasant. In the town of Fernie, check this out! The Raging Elk Adventure Lodge (Hostel) is offering pod-style private accommodations at half the cost of a hotel room.
Cranbrook is grooming more than 50 km of winter fat biking trails!
Revelstoke Mountain Resort and the town of Revelstoke are enhancing town infrastructure, making it a bit easier to get to the resort with better roads. The old Backpacker Hostel has been secured for staff housing until new staff housing at the resort is constructed. At the resort, but not ready until the summer of 2024 there will be a new slopeside hotel. The new property will include 154 hotel rooms, a restaurant, bar and spa.
Hudson Bay Mountain is excited to announce that the black diamond tree run Whitefang is officially open this season. If you get a chance to check it out, let us know!
Nitehawk Year-Round Adventure Park in Grande Prairie is installing a new t-bar for 2021-22! After a summer landslide ripped out the ski area’s chairlift in 2019, the non-profit ski area has been fundraising and working to restore access to their advanced terrain. The new t-bar will provide an “interim solution” says GM Johnathan Clarkson, as they continue to work towards a complete restoration of the area. It will run up the west side of Showoff (skier’s left) and feeds onto the hill’s advanced runs, Showoff and Connector, running right down to the Smoky River. The t-bar will be operating by mid-January.
Mount Washington Alpine Resort on Vancouver Island has increased the size of the tubing park and added groomed trails for the fat tire bikers in the crowd. A fleet of fat bikes are available to rent too.
3. New environmental upgrades
Ski resorts adopt cleaner energy, cleaner water practices
Big shout out to Whistler Blackcomb and the other 33 resorts under the Vail Resorts banner. The corporation now operates using 85 percent renewable electricity. Not only is the organization committed to using clean energy, but it has made major steps in waste reduction. Over the entire corporation that amounts to composting and recycling 9.8 million pounds of waste last season and reducing total waste by 483 tons compared to the previous season.
More good news for the environment, Sunshine Village has regraded the parking lot to include a new stormwater management system, and a wastewater treatment device that collects the grunge dripping from our cars and filters it before the water hits the streams. The reconfigured parking lot adds room for 250 more cars.
And… Kimberley BC, is the home of Canada’s largest solar tracking facility supplying enough power for 200 homes year round.
2. Newer, faster access to skiing
In response to COVID-19, resorts adopt RFID, direct-to-lift card apps and more ways to streamline access
When you sign up for your favourite resort discount card, check for the option to link a credit card (preferably your own). That way, you march past the ticket line directly to the lift. The card will keep track of your visits and not charge you for the free days.
Download the Sunshine Village mobile lift ticket app to have it scanned at the gondola (currently they have a $10 saving off the regular window ticket price promotion).
Are you a Costco member? Check the ticket booth for discount tickets that will have you going right to the lift line.
1. New you!
All those changes, but none of them is the single biggest new thing to come to western Canada’s ski resorts since 2020. What is it, you ask? Well, if you’re one of the many skiers and snowboarders in Canada who recently adopted the sport, returned after a long hiatus or upped your ski days in the last year, it’s you!
With international travel restrictions, Canadian skiers and snowboarders riding on home turf are making a difference in a big way. Our sport needs you to thrive. So get out there and enjoy all that new newness at the resorts and keep the snow stoke high.
Need some extra motivation to get out this year?
Take the #SkiNorthAB pledge and let us help you get out, get active and get epic in Alberta's north this winter, with deals, contests and fresh stoke.
See you on the slopes!
MORE TIPS FOR THE 2021-22 SEASON
Read these articles for more info to save and travel better this ski season.