For all the beginner skiers, this is a guide for first time calgary visitors or skiing 101. This process should not be overwhelming, whether you are traveling to Calgary from far away or you made your life in Calgary, Alberta. Kick back and enjoy your time by planning ahead. Our tips for the ultimate ski trip that will help you prepare. Sunshine Ski Resort in Banff is a great place to checkout skiing for the first time for yourself or for your kids. Plan a one day trip up or make it a weekend (ski out hotel!). My kids loved their first day on the hill and it was a fun family day!
Hi, My name is Pam, I am an Hola Calgary Volunteer- and I moved here from Mexico City when I was 14. I always avoided winter activities and shied away from the cold – that is until I had kids. Today I have a four and two year old and they LOVE being outside. This winter I was excited when I was elected to check the Sunshine Village Ski Resort out. I never really learned how to ski but I really want my Mexican/Canadian children to know how to do it. So we went… unsure of what to expect- and if we would have a ‘let’s never do that again day’ or if we would discover a love for a Canadian winter sport
Planning our day away was very easy with their website – anything we had questions about we easily found on their getting to Sunshine Village page.
We left our house at 7am and arrived at 9am with a coffee break in Canmore. We were one of the first ones there! And we were greeted by a staff member from Peru- Diana. From the parking area (sales and rental lodges are here) Diana took us up the gondola to get to Sunshine village – the base of the three mountains you can ski from. Sunshine Village is where you find all the amenities such as the hotel, restaurant, cafe and pub. The ride was about 20 minutes where my oldest was fascinated to learn that a long time ago you had to ride a horse up the hill! He said “Wow, people must really love to ski!” We also learned that there is a ski run that crosses the BC border- so as you go up the ski chair, you go from Alberta to BC and as you ski down you go from BC to Alberta. We loved the ride up. I’m not sure who enjoyed it more, my husband and I enjoying the mountain views, or the kids feeling like they were flying! (P.S. a gondola ride at Banff is $49 on its own, here you get it with your ski pass!)
At the top, we met with an instructor that would help the kids, and another that would help my husband… I was more hesitant and thought I would stay with the kids.
Well, my husband went off – and the kids, Diana, our instructor Drew and I went to Tiny Tigers Day Care. The Tiny Tigers staff was amazing at fitting the kids with skies, and boots, and all the proper gear. Once they were ready we headed outside. At home there are days we spend 20 minutes getting all our winter gear to go out only to spend 10 minutes outside! I was not sure how long they would last… but the staff really knew how to engage them… Especially my oldest. The lesson started off showing the boys how foam and vynil blocks slip in snow and how our boots slipped in snow- and what snow is like. The instructor had the kids sliding down the hill toboggan style to get them used to the feeling.
Once they were comfortable with the snow, then they tried sliding on one ski and then on two. From top to bottom of the kids learning hill it was only about 150 feet but to save the kids energy they have a “magic carpet” conveyor belt to zip the kids back up to the top to go again.
My youngest recently turned two and had a cold. He was not very engaged. The age they recommend kids start is more like 3- so he spent most of the time playing with the snow, going up the magic carpet and running down the hill!
But my oldest, HE LOVED It- was completely engaged and focused and did not want to stop. Within an hour and a half after we started he was already learning how to start and stop on his own! He was excited to keep going but we were all hungry- so we met up at Chimney Corner Lounge for lunch.
At lunch I learned my husband had been out with his instructor dusting off his skiing skills (he had learned to ski as a teenager but hadn’t gone in over a decade). Of the three hills you can ski he had taken on some green (beginner) and blue (intermediate) runs and had picked up some pointers on technique along the way.
After lunch my oldest could not wait to get back to his skis so without even waving goodbye to me he left in a rush with his instructor while the rest of us headed up Mount Standish on a chair lift … the views were stunning- we even saw a bride and groom there for wedding pictures!
My husband skied down a few more runs while we headed to see how my oldest was doing- only to find he was skiing down the hill with minimal help!
The smile on his face was priceless- and I felt so proud of him.. As a mom who moved here from Mexico- I want him to know how to do some of these Canadian sports I never learned… and – I have never seen him do anything as well as he did this – wow!
Overall, there were soooo many highlights, from being in the beautiful mountains, that people from all around the world come to see! Too seeing my son learning to skii! Looking back on the day, I would say the instructors were a highlight, how they engaged , and how they make you feel!
- Gets an amazing amount of snow each year
- Makes for a great day trip (with Banff or Canmore stops if you want)
- Or a great weekend get-a-away with a hotel on the site
- Incredible instructors for both kids and adults
- Bring/invest in good outdoor gear in layers
- Snow Pants
- Base layer (long underwear)
- Thermal layer or two (fleece)
- Good gloves are a must
- Ski googles are a good idea
- Neck and face warmer
- Plan you weekend/day ahead of time but check the weather a few days out for snow/cold. If you aren’t comfortable driving in the snow or if it is forecast to be really cold push it out to another weekend.
- Put your warm gear on in the parking lot before you head up to the lodge/gondola.
- There are lockers for rent up top at the village so bring a bag up with you – it’s a long round trip back down to the parking area.
- Charge your phone on the way up and keep it in an inside pocket to get the max out of your battery so you don’t miss any pictures (and take lots!)
- Put your car keys in a safe pocket so that if you are skiing and fall on them they don’t poke you (one that zips up too so you don’t lose them!)
- If you are doing lessons ask if they have any instructors on that speak Spanish, they just might!
- Remember your row parking number (it is a big lot!)
- Go mid-week for less crowds.
- Have fun!
How do you Get to Sunshine Village?
Sunshine Village is conveniently located just 135 km west of the Calgary International Airport & 8 km of Banff on the Trans-Canada Highway From the Calgary International Airport you can hop on the Banff Airporter, The Brewster Bus, or Banff Transportation or if you live in the Calgary area, just take your car and go there!
Sunshine Village Ski Resort in Banff Alberta
Snow Phone (Calgary area) 1-403-705-4000
Sunshine Mountain Lodge reservations call 1-877-542-2633