Thursday, March 14, 2024

Plan a Ski Getaway to Panorama Mountain Resort (with affordable slopeside lodging at the Approach Hotel)

My family looks forward to our annual ski trips to Panorama Mountain Resort every winter, and it's always an added bonus when we can stay slopeside in the quaint mountain village, walking distance to chairlifts, restaurants, and the outdoor hot pools (largest slopeside pools in Canada!)

Plan a Ski Getaway to Panorama Mountain Resort in British Columbia

Introduction to Panorama Mountain Resort

Panorama Mountain Resort is located 20 minutes outside the Community of Invermere in the Columbia Valley. From Calgary, it is approximately a 3.5 hour drive across the border into British Columbia. We've found that we can easily make it to the resort Friday night for a quick ski weekend, and then make it home again Sunday in time for work the next day (Even if one of us is still riding the last chairlift at 4:00 that afternoon!) 

Enhance your stay with overnight accommodations in the village and experience why ski in/ski out vacations are the absolute BEST! Panorama is unique for ski resorts in the Canadian Rockies in that it has its own alpine village, complete with accommodations, restaurants, après ski activities, and nightlife.

Stay in one of the properties on the hill and you'll also receive access to Canada's largest slopeside hot pools! The pools are located in the Panorama Springs Lodge and are walking distance from everywhere in the Lower or Upper village (a small gondola connects the Lower and Upper Village and is free to use.)

Soak in Canada's largest slopeside hot pools at Panorama Mountain Resort 

Affordable Lodging at the Slopeside Approach Hotel 

Day trips to go skiing are easy to execute, but there’s nothing like an overnight ski getaway to really take in the full resort experience.

We just returned from a weekend at Panorama Mountain Resort where we stayed slopeside in the newly renovated Approach Hotel in the heart of the village.

From our hotel room we could look out our window to the main base chairlift (easy to load at 9am when you’re sleeping within sight of it) – and I could see the trailhead leading to the Nordic Centre for the afternoon cross-country skiing I wanted to enjoy.

Our room at the Approach was perfect for families with two bunk beds (singles over queen beds) and we took advantage of the breakfast package where we were treated to a delicious buffet in the Alto Kitchen & Bar restaurant next door. (see the breakfast buffet menu here)

We also appreciated the Fireside Café on the ground floor of our hotel where they make awesome breakfast sandwiches to go.

Stay at the Approach Hotel with a breakfast buffet package

Single over queen bunk beds in our hotel room at the Approach

Stays at the Approach give you easy access to a variety of restaurants in the upper village (I highly recommend the pizza at Alto for dinner,) and we enjoyed the short walk to reach the Panorama Springs hot pools, perfect for a soak at the end of a long ski day.

We enjoyed our comfortable lodging, we ate very well, and we took full advantage of our slopeside stay at Panorama.

My boys spent two days skiing incredible powder, riding the Monster X snow cat to access extreme terrain in the Taynton Bowl, and enjoying the best conditions Panorama has had this winter.

I managed to fit both downhill and cross country skiing into my weekend, and I’m pretty sure I was one of the last skiers on the hill Sunday after skiing for 7.5 hours, first to last chair (Have to fully use your lift ticket, right?)

First tracks after a slopeside stay at the Approach

Alto is a great choice for dinner after a day on the ski hill!

Staying at the Approach Hotel: know before you go:

"At over 100 rooms, this refuge is located at the heart of the resort, and is the first step in accessing the outdoors immediately. Boasting both breathtaking mountainside and resort side views, The Approach is literally seconds from the mountain’s primary lift access.
This is a refreshing re-visitation of the roots of mountain culture. The design speaks to economy and function. Unnecessary embellishment has been banished, and in the spirit of trailblazers, offers a celebration of the essential." - Panorama Mountain Resort

The Approach Hotel provides skiers with a "no frills" affordable slopeside basecamp that's high on convenience.

Rooms are simple with comfortable beds, in-suite bathrooms with showers, and a small television with a wide variety of channels. What you won't find however, is a mini fridge, microwave, fireplace, or sitting/living area (just beds to sit on.)

We stayed in a Twin Peaks Room which had two bunk beds (singles over queen beds) and which would fit up to 6 people, perfect for families with 3+ children or youth. 

Most other rooms have two queen beds unless you book the romantic Bluebird room (one king bed,) or the Approach Glades Loft room (Queen and twin bed with loft.)

There are no suites or kitchenettes at the Approach, so pack a cooler with you if you want to bring snacks, breakfast items, or ingredients to make your own lunches. - and remember if you plan to do any meal prep in your room, you'll also need to bring dishes, cutlery, etc.

Families who want a kitchen, dedicated living room, fireplace, or separate bedrooms may want to look at one of the condos or townhouses on the resort. 

Personally, for a short ski weekend, we had everything we needed at the Approach, and it was much more convenient than staying in a hotel in a neighboring town. We chose to splurge on restaurant meals rather than bringing supplies for eating in our room, and it was a nice treat.

Save money for the skiing with affordable lodging at the Approach Hotel

A Ski Resort for the Whole Family

We've been skiing at Panorama Mountain Resort for a few years now, and the biggest thing that continues to impress me is how easy it is to progress as a skier or snowboarder at this resort. Families can start on the magic carpets and the beginner platter lift, work up to four other beginner-friendly chair lifts, and then keep moving up the mountain towards the summit (where there's enough terrain to keep the whole family challenged for a lifetime of skiing or riding.)

Read more on progression from beginner to expert terrain in my previous blog post here:

Read: Magic Carpet to Monster at Panorama Mountain Resort 

This kid started on the magic carpet and is now shredding the double blacks!

On our most recent trip to Panorama, I happily spent the weekend racing down the groomers, and on Sunday, I skied down 10,000 vertical metres in a single day (more than the height of Mt. Everest from summit to sea level!) I did top to bottom laps all day adding up to 63 km total distance (which still amazes me!)

10,000 vertical metres of skiing is a very BIG ski day!!

My boys spent most of their two days hiking (or riding) out to the double black chutes in the Taynton Bowl where they got a backcountry experience fully within resort boundaries (patrolled and monitored for avalanche risk.)

While you can hike to all runs in the Taynton Bowl, guests at Panorama can also experience pay-per-ride cat skiing, buying individual rides on the resort's Monster X Snowcats which provide comfortable easy access to reach the far end of the Taynton bowl.

My husband and son love the backcountry skiing type experiences they get at Panorama and I feel good knowing the terrain has been checked and marked safe by the resort's avalanche control professionals.

Monster X access to the Taynton Bowl at Panorama

Not an "expert" skier? No worries! Take the kids to find the Secret Forest tree house off the Mile One chair (complete with a slide that's fun to navigate in ski boots,) spend an afternoon cruising around the mellow intermediate terrain in the Sun Bowl, or plan a "hut to hut" traverse around the mountain stopping at each of the on-mountain restaurants and cabins for snacks, a gourmet lunch, or hot drinks.

I like visiting the Summit Hut for a cup of coffee while I warm up after the three chairlifts you'll ride to reach the top of the mountain. And then there are several options for cruisy skiing back down to the base on groomed intermediate runs.

The Summit Hut serves hot food and drinks and is accessed via 3 chairlift rides!

Not a downhill skier at all? This is one resort where you'll find more than enough opportunities to entertain the entire family. Try fat biking around the village, rent snowshoes or cross-country skis for a tour of the resort Nordic trails, go for a walk along Toby Creek from the lower village, or spend an afternoon in the slopeside hot pools (included with all lodging options at Panorama.)

Visit the Greywolf Nordic Centre to rent fat bikes, cross-country skis, or snowshoes.

There's more to Panorama than downhill skiing!

Other recommended reading from previous trips to Panorama Mountain Resort:

Read: Family Guide to Panorama Mountain Resort 

Read: Find it ALL at Panorama Mountain Resort 

Hut hopping from the Greywolf Nordic Centre at Panorama 

Nordic Skiing at Panorama Mountain Resort

There are 20 km of groomed Nordic Trails at the resort for classic and skate skiing, and all of the trails are open to skiers with well behaved dogs on or off leash (with the purchase of a special pooch pass.)

And these are GOOD professional Nordic trails! This isn't a case of: "Ok, you Nordic skiers, we groomed you a cute little 3km loop around the ski resort."

The Nordic Trails are groomed daily, and we like skiing up to the Pentagon and Hale Huts in approximately 10 km round trip from the Greywolf Golf Course. 

The Pentagon Hut is a short ski, fat bike ride, or snowshoe from the Nordic Centre

You can purchase day passes for the Nordic trails at the Greywolf Golf Course which is the winter clubhouse for XC skiing, fat biking, and snowshoeing.

Visit the Panorama Mountain Resort website for more information on Nordic Skiing.

You can also rent skis if you don't have your own.

And for non-skiers, you can also try snowshoeing or fat biking on the Panorama multi-use trails (which also reach the Pentagon and Hale Huts.) - with rentals on site for both.

The trackset trails are reserved for XC skiing, but Panorama has six multi-use trails for fat biking and snowshoeing. These trails are usually groomed for easy walking and biking.

On our recent trip, I spent an afternoon cross-country skiing, and it was very convenient from our room at the Approach. I could even see the Valley Trail sign from my hotel window!

The Valley Trail is a multi-use trail, but it's groomed and trackset for skiing, so I was able to ski to the Nordic Centre from the main base area to access the dedicated ski trails. 

If you need to rent skis, you'll have to drive to the Nordic Centre, but if you bring your own, it's only a 1-km ski from the base area on the Valley Trail. Then you can purchase a trail pass when you arrive at the Greywolf Club House.

Visit the Nordic Pulse website to see trail conditions and the grooming report.

This multi-use trail connects the resort base with the Nordic Centre

Read more on winter activities at Panorama Mountain Resort here in my previous blog post:

Read: Panorama Mountain Resort (much more than downhill skiing)

Disclaimer: My family received complimentary skiing and accommodations on our recent stay at Panorama Mountain Resort.

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