Friday, January 26, 2018

The Key to Successful Family Ski Weekends at Fernie Alpine Resort

How much work does it take you to be first in line for the 9am chairlift at your favourite ski resort? Is it even possible? For us it's actually quite easy when we're sleeping less than a couple hundred metres away from the chairlift. With this distance, we can even sleep in and have a fancy breakfast (and still be first in line for the day's best snow!)

First tracks after a 2 minute walk to the chairlift

I've shared this story before, but when my husband and I were younger, we’d leave Calgary after work on Friday, drive out to Fernie for the weekend, and grab the cheapest hotel room we could find. I remember eating instant oatmeal in the morning with water that we’d heated from the in-room coffee maker and remember trying to squeeze at least 4 adults into a room to split costs. These were our “dirtbag ski days” and they worked for us – as adults without kids. 

Insert a child into our family dynamic, and our ski style has changed just a tad. (For the better!)

Ski hills are very quiet first thing in the morning (when the snow is also best!)

Key factors we take into account when planning a successful family ski weekend

1. Staying off hill is not an ideal option for us anymore

We look for lodging on the ski hill so that each member of the family can choose how long he or she wants to ski. At least one of us usually runs out of energy early afternoon or needs to take an extended lunch break to rest and chill. And while I "could" just hang out at the coffee shop or in the day lodge waiting for my boys, I'd rather hit the hot tub to be honest.

Ski In-Out Accommodations at Fernie Alpine Resort's Lizard Creek Lodge

2. Happiness is staying in a condo

Having a kitchen is imperative to affordable ski weekends. I’m done with coffee-maker-oatmeal and want to have “nice breakfasts.” (Think bacon and pancakes to fuel the family for the day.) We recently stayed at the Lizard Creek Lodge at Fernie Alpine Resort and were able to make our own breakfasts each day, return to our room for lunch, and then in theory, we could have had dinner in our room too (though chose to eat out.)

Lunch at the ski hill looks like this when you have a condo

And beyond the kitchen, one-room hotel suites just don’t cut it with kids as described in this following story that I've also shared before:

Anybody else ever spend the evening sitting on the bathroom floor of their hotel room with a book and a glass of wine just so that the kids can fall asleep in the main room with no lights on? Or have you ever had to sit in the hallway outside your hotel room while the kids fell asleep? I’ve done both and I’m done with those days. 

Now we always look for a one or two bedroom condo. This way our son can go to bed in an actual bedroom behind a closed door while us parents can stay up and talk, play a game of cards, and enjoy a couple of beers. I call this “successful apr├Ęs-ski parenting.”

A very happy kid in his own bedroom at Lizard Creek Lodge

3. Never underestimate the value of a slopeside hot tub and swimming pool 

Every successful ski day ends at the resort swimming pool. We shared a condo with friends at Kimberley Alpine Resort last year and the kids spent as much time in the swimming pool as they did on the ski hill. They were in the pool within an hour of arriving Friday night, were back in the pool Saturday afternoon after skiing, and spent at least 2 hours in the pool again Sunday afternoon before driving home.

On our recent trip to Fernie Alpine Resort, we were able to register our son for the Saturday night kids' pool party and barbecue at Lizard Creek Lodge - a highlight of my son's weekend.

Slopeside swimming pool and hot tub at Lizard Creek, Fernie

4. The best snow is the first snow - and you've got to stay close to get it 

I've been posting a lot of "first run" photos on Instagram lately because it's really struck me this month, how much FUN it is to have the fresh corduroy on steep runs that get skied out or chopped up by late morning. I worked my way up to skiing my first black run at Fernie because we did it as soon as the lifts opened for the morning and had perfect conditions.

If it's snowed overnight, you're also going to want to be first on the hill to get that fresh powder (even if it's just a centimetre.) And then let's not forget how beautiful the mountains are when the sun rises on them as ski lifts are just starting for the day.

Fortunately for us staying at Lizard Creek on the Fernie ski hill, it was a very short walk from our room over to the chairlifts. Getting the best snow was no challenge for us!

Sunrise and first tracks at Fernie Alpine Resort

Highlights from This Year's Ski Weekend at Fernie Alpine Resort

1. The Saturday Night Kids' Pool Party at Lizard Creek Lodge 

Our son Noah LOVED the kids' pool party which included supervised time in the swimming pool by Fernie resort staff, a bbq dinner (my son loves hamburgers,) and then a movie night. The party is open to all guests of Fernie Alpine Resort (whether you're staying at Lizard Creek or not,) and does come at an additional cost.

Meanwhile, for two happy parents, it meant "date night!!" We had drinks at the Cirque Lounge in the Lizard Creek Lodge and then went next door to a pub for dinner.

Pool Party at Lizard Creek Lodge

2. Skiing the North Ridge from the top of the Boomerang Chair

I've always been scared of the black runs at Fernie because I like good grooming, and am fairly terrified of bumps and moguls. The North Ridge was recommended to us though and I was determined to try it out.

The steep but beautiful North Ridge at Fernie Alpine Resort

We went with the best possible chance for success and headed straight for this run first thing in the morning on Sunday. What we found was a beautiful steep run with great views down into Cedar Bowl - perfectly groomed aside from a dusting of soft snow overnight. It was perfection and we loved it.

Both my husband and I agreed that skiing this run as a family was a highlight for the weekend. And my husband is thrilled that he's finally gotten me off of "Falling Star," my previous favourite run.

Skiing down the North Ridge above the Cedar Bowl

3. Working my way up to the Great Bear Chair 

I never made it up the Great Bear Express Quad last year, stopping at the top of Elk. This year though, I was determined to ski the North Ridge above, and that meant riding the Bear (and skiing down at some point!)

Skiing down Bear Ridge - and loving the soft dusting of snow we got overnight

What I discovered was that I love the runs off Bear when they are freshly groomed in the morning. "Bear" and "Bear Ridge" became two of my favourite runs from the weekend and we spent most of Sunday morning skiing off this chair.

Skiing off the Great Bear chair in fluffy fresh snow

4. Noah's first time in a Terrain Park 

Noah begged us to let him try the terrain park off the Deer Chair, and we finally caved in the afternoon on Saturday. Letting him "try" the park involved signing a separate waiver at guest services and getting dedicated park passes for the 2018 season.

First jump in the Fernie Terrain Park!

Fortunately our new terrain park passes are good at all RCR resorts, so we can use them at Nakiska as well. And because I plan to be supervising, I had to get a pass too! So God help us all - but this mom now has a terrain park pass! (Actually a very funny thought if you've ever watched me ski!)

Trying out the terrain park at Fernie (and killing it!) 

All in all, we had a great weekend at Fernie Alpine Resort, our condo did not disappoint (as Lizard Creek never does,) and we were once again reminded that we LOVE Fernie.

It is always an annual highlight when we get to visit Fernie for a weekend, no matter which season we visit. And we can't wait to return in the summer for the mountain biking.

Fernie Alpine Resort Mountain Village 

Other Recommended Reading 

And, of course, please check out the Fernie Alpine Resort website along with the Lizard Creek Lodge website for accommodations. 

Gotta love the Fernie Kids' Trees! 

Special Thanks to Fernie Alpine Resort and Resorts of the Canadian Rockies for sponsoring us on another great ski weekend! We are forever appreciative.

Happy Skiers at Fernie Alpine Resort 

1 comment:

  1. What a fun family adventure! The mountains have my heart. I've never been to Fernie, but love love love BC. I wish I was able to get there more often.