Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Ultimate Family Ski Weekend at Kimberley Alpine Resort

I posed the following question in a recent ski story: Do you want more ski days or do you want more GOOD ski days? That was the thought that hit me in December as we made our way to Kimberley Alpine Resort for a day of skiing. We had "gone cheap" on accommodations and had chosen a hotel in a nearby city thinking we would just drive to the ski hill in Kimberley for a quick day of skiing - and that it would be just as good as the last time we'd skied here when we'd stayed on hill.

Magical Kimberley Alpine Resort in February

For us, a "day trip" to Kimberley meant waking up unorganized. It meant having to pack everything up before we could drive to the hill for the day. It meant trying to get to the hill in time for first lifts (but knowing it would never happen.) It also meant showing up at the parking lot, not knowing where anything was! I'd tried to be super organized but it's hard when you have a small car packed to the roof with your ski gear, your overnight gear, food, and the extra supplies we'd need for the rest of our new years vacation in a neighboring town.

Fortunately we got a chance at a do-over this month when we got to spend an entire weekend in Kimberley and had lodging arranged for us right on the ski hill. We also brought friends with us and discovered what it looks like to plan the ultimate family ski weekend.

Family Ski Weekend at Kimberley Alpine Resort

Snapshots into our Family Ski Weekend at Kimberley


Friday Night

We arrived in Kimberley Friday night, had a quick dinner in our condo (yay for the grocery store in town where you can grab a couple pizzas, a salad, a bag of chips, and dessert) and then sent the kids to the swimming pool with the dads. Us moms on the other hand - we went skiing! Cross country skiing that is.

The Kimberley Nordic Club has fabulous trail network with 3 km of lit skiing for night use. We had brought head lamps with us as well so we did a second loop on the non-lit trails up to a lookout point. From the viewpoint we could look down over the whole valley and the lights below us.

The cross country trails are also conveniently located right above the ski hill so we had a very short 2 minute drive to reach the club parking lot.

Night skiing on the Kimberley Nordic Trails

Saturday Morning

We all headed to the ski hill together after a gourmet breakfast cooked in our condo's kitchen. And it's pretty easy to be in line for first lifts when you're staying right on the ski hill!

We did a couple of runs with the kids skiing together but quickly realized that paces and ski styles weren't exactly conducive for skiing in a large group. It wasn't a big deal though because the hill had something for everybody. I was able to run laps up and down the main run (the only one freshly groomed after a large dump of powder overnight,) my husband and son took off to play in the trees, and our friends split up to check out runs to suit their children's tastes and ability.

Our small gang of kids heading down one of the novice runs on a soft powder day

Kimberley is a beautiful hill for families because it's always easy to regroup after a run or two. All runs on the front side return to the same chair lift. Stay on the front, and you're guaranteed to find your group again if you wait at the bottom of the main run.

We also liked using the cafe and day lodge as a meeting spot and would frequently retreat here for a snack or a cup of coffee. My husband could then head out for a solo run and find us again after we'd warmed up.

Together for a quick photo with my son at the top of the main chair lift

Saturday Afternoon

The beauty of staying on a ski hill is that you aren't committed to following the same plans as every member of your group.We loosely made plans with our friends to meet back at the condo for a late lunch and knew that the kids would likely spend the remainder of the afternoon in the swimming pool. This left plenty of time for the non-supervising adults to get more laps on the ski hill and to check out more advanced runs.

I happily sacrificed a few ski runs for a chance to spend some time soaking sore muscles in the hot tub with my son, and all three kids had fun swimming in the pool. With four adults between us, there was always somebody to hang out with the children and nobody felt like they had to cut their ski day early when the kids got tired of skiing.

Saturday afternoon in our condo's hot tub and swimming pool

The Après-Ski Experience and Resort Entertainment 

My husband was off the ski hill by 3:30 and it seemed like the perfect time to head over to the Stemwinder Bar and Grill to hear the band and grab a drink. I discovered an amazing coffee that must have had four different kinds of alcohol in it and my son liked listening to the live music.

Afternoon entertainment at the Stemwinder Bar and Grill

The bar allowed kids and was a very popular place to be at any time of day. Ski boots were welcome and it was definitely "the place to be" on the hill for some good pub food, a post-ski beer, or even a bowl of soup at lunch (again with a beer of course.)

Our friends' kids never did make it down to the bar, preferring to spend what had to have been two hours in our condo's swimming pool. Again though, the brilliance of staying on hill is that everybody can do what works for their own family. Stay on the ski hill, go back to the room to unwind, hit the swimming pool, or head to the pub to hear the live entertainment. There's something for everybody (and for each member of the family.)

Late afternoon at the hill

Saturday Evening and Dinner on the Town

We split ways with our friends for a couple of hours because we wanted to go downtown to the Platzl for dinner. The platzl is a super cute Bavarian themed plaza with some amazing restaurants. We wanted to eat at the Pedal and Tap, probably my favourite restaurant in all of the Kootenay Rockies.

Our friends wanted to cook dinner at the condo and wanted to spend some time chilling but we were all united again by 7:00 so that the kids could run around and play for a while before bed.

The Pedal and Tap, and the very snowy Kimberley Platzl

And again, because we were staying at the ski hill, we could all choose different ways to spend our evening. Most of us chose not to do anything after dinner but one of our dads wasn't quite done with his ski day yet and headed back out for some night skiing on the lit main run.

Night Skiing at Kimberley Alpine Resort

Other options would have been skating on the village rink, more cross country skiing at the Nordic Club, or more time in the hot tub. And try as we might have to get the kids back outside to do something, they were tired and committed to not moving again till the next morning.

The Village Skating Rink in the evening snow fall

Sunday and the Arrival of Snow-magedon

The resort received over 70 cm of snow in a 72 hour period. Meteorologists called it one of the most significant snowfalls to hit British Columbia in February history and RCR (Resorts of the Canadian Rockies) proclaimed it the "best storm in years."

Snow-magedon hits Kimberley while we were there

I'm usually a big fan of groomed corduroy skiing and had never skied in snow this deep before. It was easily up to my son's knees and he had a big learning curve ahead of him on Sunday. He learned quickly that you did not seek out fresh tracks in the kids' trees when there's just been a fresh dump of powder. (It took my husband an hour to guide him down and they had to spend significant periods of time searching for buried ski poles.)

Heading off into the Kids' Trees for First Tracks Sunday Morning

I attempted to change my ski style but my muscles were shot by the end of my third run. Apparently skiing through fresh powder is quite the leg work out! My son lasted a few runs longer than me while I retreated to the Stemwinder Bar and Grill again for more "spiked coffee." And, apparently I wasn't alone in needing a break from the skiing because the bar was packed!!

Fresh tracks on what was actually a groomed run!

My girlfriend pretty much closed the ski hill down, giddy like a child in a candy store, while her children spent several hours with dad in our condo's swimming pool. (That could be a separate story: Ode to the Beautiful Resort Pool, Salvation for Tired Kids and Sore Muscles.)

No friends (or grooming) on a powder day

As tempting as it was to call in sick and stay for another day, we had to get back to Calgary and chose to leave early afternoon in an effort to beat some of the traffic and bad road conditions we anticipated.

Powder Day at Kimberley Alpine Resort

Where We stayed at Kimberley Alpine Resort

We stayed at the beautiful Mountain Spirit Resort on the Kimberley Alpine Resort property. We had a two bedroom condo with fully equipped kitchen and dining room, king sized beds in each room, a spa-inspired ensuite with large soaker tub in the master bedroom, a second full sized bathroom, electric fireplace in the living room, and TVs in both the living area and bedrooms. We even had in suite laundry!

Honestly we could have stayed here for a week and would have been quite comfortable!

Enjoying breakfast in our condo kitchen

While the condo may have been a bit cozy for 7 people, we didn't really spend a lot of time in it (with all the activities we were  doing on the hill) and the bedrooms were very spacious. Our friends' kids slept on the floor in their bedroom using mattresses and sleeping bags they had brought for them and my son slept on the pull out sofa in the living room.

Large master bedroom in our two bedroom suite

Our condo was located just behind the Trickle Creek Lodge Property where we had stayed our last time at Kimberley and we had views of the skating rink outside our window. It took us less than 2 minutes to walk over to the main chair lift from our front door and we enjoyed our underground parkade (more so with all the fresh snow!!)

The view from our balcony over to Trickle Creek, the Ski hill behind (and the reason we liked our parkade)

Over all we had no complaints about this property and we found it to be very quiet. Trickle Creek had been noisier with a bit more of a "party vibe" to it. The Mountain Spirit Resort was like Trickle Creek's more mature sister for those who want to ski hard and then go to bed early.

Spa Inspired Ensuite Bathroom in the Master Bedroom

More on Kimberley Alpine  Resort

The Town of Kimberley is reached in roughly a 4 hour drive from Calgary via either the Crowsnest Pass and Town of Fernie or via Banff and Radium Hot Springs. We chose to take the Hwy 93 via Radium Hot Springs and found it easier to take half a day off Friday so that we could get an earlier start on the drive. We left Calgary around 1:00pm and arrived at our condo in time for dinner.

You can read more about the Town of Kimberley here and read more about the Kimberley Alpine Resort here.

The chair lift sign that greets you at the top of the main run at the Kimberley Alpine  Resort

You can also read about last year's trip to Kimberley Alpine Resort where we had a more typical experience with bluebird days and groomed corduroy as far as the eye could see. That story is here: Family Guide to Kimberley Alpine Resort. Last year we stayed at Trickle Creek Lodge and information on those accommodations can be found in my family guide story.

Bluebird day at Kimberley Alpine Resort

Finally, read more about the Kootenay Rockies and Area Tourism here on the Destination BC website.

My boys skiing fresh powder at the Kimberley Alpine Resort

Other COOL Things to Do while at the Kimberley Alpine Resort

We tried to do it ALL while at the hill but it just wasn't possible. We tried out the nordic ski trails, we spent two days on the hill skiing, we checked out the live entertainment and après ski scene, we definitely enjoyed our condo's pool and hot tub, and we explored the town Platzl. And heck, we even tried both nordic and downhill skiing at night to make sure we took full advantage of our time at the resort.

Making the most of our ski weekend at Kimberley

Other activities that we didn't get to try this year included the chocolate fondue snowshoe tour and the fat biking tour. We really wanted to try the "S'mores fat bike tour" but alas, it snowed too much! (not usually a problem.) We also discovered that they don't have kids' fat bikes (yet.)

To read about snowshoe and fat bike tours, check out the resort's Family Fun Activities Section on their website.

Fat Bike Tours at Kimberley Alpine Resort (photo: Resorts of the Canadian Rockies)

Big Thanks to Resorts of the Canadian Rockies and Tourism Kimberley for partnering to sponsor this family ski vacation.

Disclaimer: While we enjoyed skiing and accommodations at Kimberley Alpine Resort, all words and opinions are my own.


  1. We love to ski and snowboard as a family! It's always hard work to get to the mountain but SO worth it. Sounds like you had an amazing weekend. :)

  2. Wow looks like great fun. We have never been skiing but it does like good fun for the whole family.