Tuesday, October 26, 2021

7 Days of Big Mountain Skiing in the Canadian Rockies for $400!

Save BIG this winter with a Lake Louise Plus Card where you'll receive three free days of skiing along with discounts on every other ski day at four major mountain resorts across Alberta and British Columbia.

Ski days at Lake Louise are pretty glorious!

The Details! What you get with a Lake Louise Plus Card

The Lake Louise Plus Card costs $134.00 + GST. Purchase a card for each adult or teenager (age 13+) in your family and you'll get the following benefits:

  • Free skiing on your first, fourth, and seventh day

  • 20% off full-day, full-priced lift tickets on paid visits to the four participating resorts

  • You can use your card at Lake Louise, Castle Mountain in Southern Alberta, Panorama Mountain Resort outside Invermere in BC, and RED Mountain in Rossland, BC. 

  • Spring Value Days - Save 30% OFF full-day lift tickets for you and up to two friends daily plus get up to two free child lift tickets on paid visits from mid April through the end of the ski season early May. 

  • Free direct-to-lift upgrades! Link the discount card to your credit card and go straight to the chairlifts at Lake Louise when you arrive at the hill. Your credit card will be charged the discounted rate on your paid days and you will not be charged on your free days. 

    The upgrade also includes two free Child Direct-To-Lift Cards (for kids under 13) which saves you 20% off your child’s full-price, full-day lift tickets. Children will get their own direct-to-lift card tied to your credit card. (Note kids do not get free days.)  - Children's lift tickets should cost ~ $32.00 + GST.

  • Lake Louise Plus cardholders are also entitled to benefits and savings on ski or snowboard lessons, rentals, dining, hotel accommodations, discounts on lift tickets at partner hills, tours, and retail purchases. Read more about additional benefits here.

Follow this link for complete information on the benefits associated with the Lake Louise Plus Card

Note the Lake Louise Plus Card isn't available for purchase until at least mid October most years. Watch the website for updates. 

This story is updated annually but prices may change slightly year to year. The official website should be your source for most up to date information.

Very happy child skiing at Lake Louise 

Doing the Math to get you 7 days of Skiing for $400! 

First of all: Ask for a Lake Louise Plus Card for an early Christmas present. This way you truly get a "free" first day. - and it's an easy gift for family members who don't like shopping or who have to mail gifts across Canada. 

Next, do the math and you'll end up with something similar to what I've got below:

Day 1. Louise Ski Day - FREE

Days 2 and 3. Castle Mountain Ski Weekend - roughly $88 per day with your 20% discount + GST

Day 4. Louise Ski Day - FREE

Days 5 and 6. Panorama Ski Weekend - roughly $107 per day with your 20% discount + GST

Day 7. Louise Ski Day - FREE

Crunch the numbers and you'll see that you're spending just over $400 per person once you add in GST for 7 days of skiing this winter at amazing resorts!!

Continue skiing through the winter and you'll still get the 20% discount on all subsequent days.

And while I focused on Louise, Panorama, and Castle, you'll find that it's a similar price for adding on RED Mountain as well.

Disclaimer: the rates above change slightly each season per resort, so it is an approximate $400. Current lift pass prices aren't usually released until November.

Enjoy epic skiing at Castle Mountain Resort this winter

Where to buy a Lake Louise Plus Card

You can buy your card online (which is great news if you have family buying the cards as Christmas presents.) The cards will be mailed to you after purchase.

You can also buy them at many different places in person (skipping the need to have them mailed to you - which is good news if you plan to ski in November when the hill opens.)

Purchase cards here:

  • The Calgary Lake Louise Sales Office  (934 15 Ave SW)

  • Experience Lake Louise (101 Lake Louise Dr #2, Lake Louise Village)

  • SkiBig3 Adventure Hub (114 Banff Ave in the Town of Banff)

  • Grocery stores across Calgary (Sobeys, Safeway, Save on Foods, CO-OP)

  • Sports stores in Calgary (Sport Check, Decathlon, Atmosphere, MEC, Sporting Life)

  • AMA offices across Alberta

Disclaimer: Check the link above before heading out to buy your pass. New locations are added each year and previous ones sometimes change.

Spring skiing at Lake Louise Resort

Activate your Card and Upgrade to Direct-to-Lift

Once you purchase your card, the first step is to activate it on the Lake Louise website! Do not forget this step or you won't be able to use it when you arrive at the resort this winter.

Once it's activated, you want to upgrade it to direct-to-lift with your credit card linked to it so that you can show up at the lifts without having to go to guest services first.

You can also link your card to the ski resort so that all food purchases scan with it (avoiding the need to have your credit card with you at the hill at all.) - And this would be extremely useful if you have teens using their own cards. Link your credit card to their ski cards so that they can stop in and grab a drink or snack when hungry at the hill if you get separated.

Where to upgrade your card

You can go direct-to-lift right from the start when you purchase your pass online.

Buy your Louise+ Card online with this free upgrade already included! Make sure to upload your photo in your online profile and complete your online waiver (emailed to you after purchase). Once everything is completed you can pick up your card at the the Resort, the Calgary Sales Office, The Ski Big 3 office in Banff, or Experience Lake Louise in Samson Mall. It will also be automatically activated and you will be entered into the activation contest before January 31, 2023!

Alternately, purchase your card first and upgrade after at any of the locations above.

A photo, email address, and a credit card are required. You can either bring photos with you or have your photos taken on site.

You'll also need to fill out a waiver and list each person on it that will be using one of the cards. (So make sure you have everybody with you to sign their own waiver.)

Follow this link for the hours of operation for the Calgary office. (This is by far the easiest way to upgrade without having to do it at the hill on your first visit.)

Big Mountain Views at Lake Louise

How to Claim your Ski Days at Partner Resorts

Your upgrade for direct-to-lift only works at Lake Louise. If you visit other partner resorts you'll have to go in to guest services when you arrive with your Lake Louise Plus card. 

Show your Direct-To-Lift Lake Louise Plus Card to Guest Services at Castle, Panorama, and RED for free days or discounted lift tickets. 

Note that at Panorama, you'll have to pay a small $5 fee for a RFID enabled lift ticket. Save this card because you can bring it with you on all future visits and they'll reload it for you.

Top of the Summit Chair at Panorama

Skiing with Kids under 13 

Your free direct-to-lift upgrade includes two free Child Direct-To-Lift Cards (optional), which save you 20% off your child’s full-price, full-day lift tickets. 

You'll pay approximately $32 + GST per ski day per child 12 and under. Age is based on how old your child is at the end of December. Even if your child turns 13 in January, they can still get a child's companion card (though they will pay youth pricing.)

Show your child's direct-to-lift card at partner resorts for a discounted lift ticket. At Lake Louise, just show up at the lifts and your credit card will be charged for the ski day. (Note kids do not get the free days.)

Once your children turn 13, they can get their own Lake Louise Plus Card.

Get the kids direct-to-lift cards for Lake Louise

Affordable Ski Getaways at Lake Louise, Panorama, and Castle Mountain 

These are the three resorts we focus on as a family for our ski getaways because all three can be reached in a 3 hour drive (or less) from Calgary.

For affordable accommodations, I have the following suggestions for you:

Affordable Getaways to Lake Louise

This is the easiest one because you can make it a day trip from Calgary if you are willing to leave the city by 6:30am. To make this happen, pack the car the night before and leave a list out for the "last minute items" you want to throw in the following morning. 

Skip breakfast and stop at the Tim Hortons at the Casino at the junction of Highway 40 to grab a fast breakfast. You could also stop in Canmore for breakfast to break up the drive a bit. You can even have the kids change into their base layers for skiing while you stop for breakfast if you just want to start the drive out in pjs. 

If you'd like a more relaxed trip, I recommend spending a night or two at the HI Lake Louise Alpine Centre where you'll receive discounts as either a member of the Alpine Club of Canada or Hosteling International. 

For a one-night ski weekend at Louise, drive out Saturday, ski, stay overnight at the Alpine Centre, ski Sunday, and drive home. It's rushed, but it allows you to ski for two days with only one night accommodations.

LLP cardholders also get discounts off several hotels in the Banff/Lake Louise area. More information can be found here on discounted stays.

Read more about ski getaways at Lake Louise here:

Plan affordable ski weekends from Calgary at Lake Louise this winter

Affordable Getaways to Castle Mountain

This resort is far enough from Calgary that you'll probably want to spend two nights here (unless you live in deep south Calgary and can make it out for a day.) 

For the most affordable accommodations close to the resort, stay at the Castle Ski Lodge located across the parking lot from the resort. You can either stay in hostel style rooms or in the hotel style rooms. 

The Castle Ski Lodge hostel style rooms have 6 or 8 beds per room (bunk beds) with a shared kitchen on site. The hotel style rooms come with either 2 queen sized beds (for 4 people) or a queen bed and a double / single bunk (for 4-5 people.) 

We've stayed at the Castle Ski Lodge a couple of times in the hotel style room and found them to be quite comfortable.

Alternately you can find affordable accommodations nearby in the Town of Pincher Creek. 

Read more about ski getaways at Castle Mountain here:

Disclaimer: The Castle Ski Lodge has not operated their hostel or shared kitchen since 2020. Check to see if it will be open for this coming season. Otherwise, the hotel rooms upstairs are still affordable and there are options for your meals mentioned in the stories above.

We love skiing Castle Mountain Resort for the gorgeous views and epic ski terrain!

Affordable Getaways to Panorama Mountain Resort

This is another resort that will require an actual 2-3 night getaway. Fortunately, you'll save money on lodging with your Lake Louise Plus Card.

For the best "value" on accommodations at Panorama, consider staying at the Approach Inn, a modern motel style property that's been recently renovated. It's a great deal with ski in ski out accommodations right in the Upper Village, free outdoor parking, restaurants just a short stroll away, and access to the Panorama Springs Hot Pools.

Usually Louise Plus card holders get discounts at slopeside condos at the resort as well which allow you to do your own cooking.

Read more about ski getaways at Panorama Mountain Resort here:

Escape to British Columbia's sunny valley for a ski weekend this winter at Panorama Mountain Resort 

Other Cost Saving Tips for Affordable Family Skiing 

Kids 5 and under ski for free!- Get them out when they're young! Just pick up a free lift ticket in the day lodge at your resort of choice.

Grade 2 Passes - Get a Lake Louise Grade 2 Pass for $40 (for an entire winter of skiing at Lake Louise!)

Snow Pass Cards - If you have a child in grade 4 or 5, you can purchase a Snow Pass card for $29.99  allowing the child to ski for two days at pretty much every resort across Alberta and BC. So that's two days at Louise, two days at Panorama, two days at Castle, etc. - Note, they only get two days per resort total spread over the two years, so if you use both days at Lake Louise in grade 4, you'll have to visit other resorts in grade 5. 

Save money on Discovery Zone Lift Tickets at Panorama - The Discovery Zone tickets give you access to the Discovery Quad, Silver Platter, Red Carpet, and Little Ripper Carpet for a discounted cost. 

Save money on beginner chairlifts at Castle Mountain Resort - Buy a lift ticket for the green beginner chair or for the beginner/intermediate Huckleberry Chair at a discounted cost. 

Mornings are glorious at Panorama Mountain Resort 

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