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BlondesVoyage – Pretty Estates

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BlondesVoyage is on a mission this summer, and that mission is to become just slightly better than embarrassingly bad golfers. With that in mind, we headed to Pretty Estates Resort in Harrison Mills for our first go at golfing. Just two hours out of Vancouver, this stunning secluded, property is one of BC’s best kept secrets. It’s also home to the Sandpiper Golf Course, the perfect place to get our green groove on. But before we got down to the business of perfecting our back-swings, we settled into our suh-weeeet accommodations.

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Nice Digs!

Set along side the Harrison River and surrounded by the Cheam Mountains, Pretty Estates is peppered with these quaint, stand-alone cottages – complete with fireplace, killer views and private patios. Don’t worry about bringing breakfast supplies – a deluxe hot breakfast will be delivered to your cozy little love shack. Pro Tip: Draw the shades if you want to prance around fully nekkid – you never know when a golfer in search of a lost ball will pass by your cabin window.

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The main estate is another great option. It’s an opulent 19th century English manor that’s been converted into a grand B&B. Guests who stay in one of these gorgeous rooms are treated to breaky in the solarium on the main floor. Both setups are amazing, but if I had to choose, I’d say go for one of the cottages.

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Feast Before Fairway

After checking in, it was time to feast at the River’s Edge Restaurant. The food was amazing – the NY steak, rack of lamb and salmon crepe entrees were five-star all the way. As for as dress code goes, whatever you do, don’t wear sweats in this fine establishment or you’ll get the once over by “The Madame” (a.k.a. Betty-Anne Pretty) –  she’s the great ole gal who owns the entire estate. It’s been in her family for years. Suffice to say, she’s got no shortage of great stories to share. So make sure you make a point of introducing yourself to this impeccably dressed piece of BC history.

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Off to a Rough Start 

Well, we did it! Eighteen looooong holes and so yeah, turn out I can’t golf. And no, I don’t mean I’m IMG_2526a “bad golfer in desperate need of lessons.” Laurie is a “bad golfer in desperate need of lessons.” I, on the other hand, Can Not Golf. I swing and I swing and I swing some more and yet, my club doesn’t even make contact with the ball. Nothing. Zero. Nada. It just sits there perched up on the Tee, mocking my lack of hand-eye coordination

Shame really because I love the idea of golfing. I love wearing preppy clothing I wouldn’t normally be caught dead in. I love the beer carts, the country club dinners, the greenery and the 19th hole bender. But actually golfing? Not so much – at least not at this level. That’s why I won’t be lacing up my cleats again until the BlondesVoyage team get some much needed lessons. Any takers?

 

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Fairmont Pacific Rim StayCation

Gotta love a good StayCation. No Jet lag. No border lineups. No heavy luggage to contend with. That’s why we recently launched a brand new BlondesVoyage StayCation series – we want to keep our hard-working Vancouver sisters in the loop about some of the best places to take a load off… if only for a day.

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Our first stop on this whirlwind tour was the Fairmont Pacific Rim’s Willow Stream Spa, a sky-high oasis in the heart of downtown. Here, we tucked into some seriously great seafood in the ladies luxurious lounge. Now, we don’t know normally drink in the middle of the day. But, we make exceptions when we’re on holidays ;)

BV Pro Tip: Show up at least an hour before your scheduled spa treatment so you can take full advantage of the facilities – like we’re talking infrared sauna, mediation pods, steam room and rooftop jacuzzis with panoramic views of the city.

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As for the the treatments, I highly recommend the Willow Stream Elements rejuvenation service. This 90-minute stress-buster incorporates earth (mud wrap), air (aromatherapy), water (hot rain shower) and fire (warm massage). And they make the most of every moment here.

For example, while I lay cocooned in a warm mud wrap, my service provider gave me a mini facial – genius! Then it’s rinse time. Interestingly, the private shower rooms have balconies so (if you feel so inclined), you can stand fully nekkid as you look out on one the busiest intersections in Vancouver’s financial district. Go ahead – you have BV’s blessing.

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And if you’re not in the mood for mud? No probs. You can always just go for a straight-up, ultra-moisturizing, lavender infused full-body rubdown like the one Laurie indulged in. Suffice to say, we both emerged from our respective treatment rooms in a zen-like state. I think I may have even drooled a little at one point and hey, if that’s not the sign of a successful StayCation, we don’t know what is!

More BlondesVoyage Info

Fun Fact: Fairmont Pacific Rim was awarded the 5-Green Key rating within the first year of operation.

Added Bonus: if you forget your swimsuit, they got you covered. Just ask front desk for a  disposable one-piece and you’re golden. Granted, it’s probably not gonna land you on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue any time soon. But this glorified shower cap does the trick in a pinch.

Take a full video tour  –> The Fairmont Pacific Rim Roof Top Terrace

 

First Impressions, Part 1: Vancouver’s Pizza

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Hi Vancouver,

My name is Tom. I’m new in town.

I just moved here from my hometown of Ottawa. It was a bit of leap of faith because I’d never been to BC before, but it’s all paid off. You see, I’ve already fallen in love with your city.

Vancouver has a lot going for it: the ocean, a bustling downtown, a solid hockey team, and more. But as I clumsily learn my way through its neighbourhoods—all unfamiliar to me—I’m learning that there is so much more to this city than the obvious. As a Vancouver newbie, I’m finding that even the city’s ordinary is excellent. Even the mundane is thrilling. Yes, Vancouver, with my fresh set of eyes, I’m here to remind you to appreciate the little things—the lovely little things—because your city is full of them.

Case in point? Your pizza. Vancouver, as I’ve been thrilled to discover, is a slice of heaven.

I’ve always said that it’s hard to mess up pizza. Even bad pizza is good. But that doesn’t mean some pizza joints aren’t better than others. In every city, when it comes to pizza places, there are the good, and there are the amazing. But here’s the good news: having lived in Ottawa and Halifax, and being very familiar with Toronto and Montreal, I feel quite qualified to say that Vancouver has the best pizza in Canada.

Sure, you’ve got your share of the franchise favourites. Within your city limits are a handful of the usual staples—several Pizza Huts, a number of Dominos locations. In Vancouver, however, these restaurants are hopelessly outnumbered by a bevy of local chains. There’s Megabite. There’s 4 Brothers. There’s Freshslice. There’s a plethora of Ma and Pa shops like Commercial Drive’s Fire Pizza. There is, in this mouth-watering metropolis, a lot of pizza. And it’s all delicious. At each of the spots I’ve sampled, the crust finds the perfect balance between crispy and doughy. The toppings are fresh and original. The pizza, quite simply, is very, very good. You can take my word for it; I eat a lot of pizza.

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For pizza pundits, the good news doesn’t end there. In Vancouver, the pizza isn’t just tasty, it’s also cheap. When I told a friend from Ottawa that in my new city, you can get a delicious, generously-sized slice for $1.25 every Tuesday (I’m looking at you, Freshslice), he didn’t believe me. I can’t blame him. In Eastern Canada, prices that good would cause cities to shut down—there’d be panic at the Parliament Buildings, chaos under the CN Tower, bedlam by the Biodome! I must admit, if I had known Vancouver had such scrumptious and affordable pizza, I would have headed west much sooner. This city is a pizza lover’s dream.

The moral of this newcomer’s story? Appreciate what you’ve got, Vancouverites. Not just Stanley Park and the Canucks, but all the little things that make your city so wonderfully unique. Every day, I’m overwhelmed by the small, but splendid details of this awesome city. I may have just arrived, but I’m already thrilled to be able to call Vancouver home.

Originally posted by Tourism Vancouver

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Free Swag! NHL Fan Fest Hits Vancouver this Weekend

The 2010 Winter Classic in Boston. Photo credit: misconmmike | Flickr

The 2010 Winter Classic in Boston. Photo credit: misconmmike | Flickr

On March 2, open-air NHL hockey comes to Vancouver. BC Place is set to host the 2014 Heritage Classic, a matchup between the Vancouver Canucks and Ottawa Senators in front of 50,000 fans and – if the weather cooperates – under an open roof.

If you’re not lucky enough to score a ticket, however, there’s still a way to get in on the action – at a free fan festival held on the False Creek waterfront before the game.

The parking lot outside the Plaza of Nations buildings is set to be transformed into the NHL Spectator Plaza from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on game day. Fans can expect to find a bevy of Canucks stars of yesteryear, interactive hockey-themed attractions and lots of freebies and giveaways (including your own hockey trading cards). Importantly, there’s also a Molson Canadian Hockey House on premises, should you need a little refreshment.

For fans who really want to maximize the amount of swag and autographs they pick up, here’s a closer look at all the creative and sometimes cheesy offerings at the various corporate booths in NHL Spectator Plaza:

  • Bridgestone: Test your shooting skills against a live goalie in a slap-shot shootout, called by a real play-by-play announcer. Then pick up a free foam hockey-stick hat.
  • Canadian Tire: The event’s official sponsor, Canadian Tire gives fans a chance to step inside the Canadian Tire Money Machine (a booth where Canadian Tire cash is blown around, and you have to grab as much as you can).
  • Scotiabank: Stop by for autographs from Canucks greats Kirk McLean and Cliff Ronning, part of the 1994 Stanley Cup Final team.  You can also instantly print your own commemorative photos with the stars.  Sign up for a VISA card and you get a free Trevor Linden signed plaque.
  • Tim Hortons: Apart from grabbing a complimentary coffee, you can take a spin on Timmy’s mini hockey rink.
  • Upper Deck: The hockey card maker is giving fans a chance to suit up in pro gear then get their own personalized trading card made up.  You can also snag free hockey cards.
  • Reese: Dress up in goofy Reese hockey uniforms, then have your own personalized hockey card printed up.  And don’t forget to grab free Reese full-size samples.
  • Can-Am: Hop on this simulator for the exhilaration and adventure of riding the open road on a unique, three-wheeled Can-Am Spyder motorcycle.
  • Panini: The NHL’s official trading card manufacturer is offering free sticker sheets in honour of the Heritage Classic featuring members of the Ottawa Senators and Vancouver Canucks.  You can also get a free pack of NHL Heritage Classic trading cards.
  • Reebok: Dress like a pro in the Reebok-CMM booth, then try out their latest hockey sticks in the Sniper’s Fire display.
  • Honda: Former Canucks player Brendan Morrison will be on-hand and ready for fans to test their hockey skills.
  • Rogers: Rather be watching the game? Stop in to enter to win tickets to the 2014 Heritage Classic.

The 2014 Canadian Tire NHL Spectator Plaza is Sunday, March 2, from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Plaza of Nations in downtown Vancouver (750 Pacific Blvd.).  

Follow me on Twitter @RemyScalza for more on Vancouver … and beyond.  

Originally posted by Tourism Vancouver

Winterruption

Winterruption Festival Arrives at Granville Island This Weekend

Granville Island presents the 9th annual Winterruption, a unique Vancouver winter festival. From February 14th to 16th, head on down to Granville Island to celebrate the West Coast through music, food, art, theatre, dance and film. With beer tastings, capoeira performances, French films, pop up dances, and performances by We are the City and Wake Owl, Winterruption promises to entertain and delight the masses.

Vancouver’s Coastal Jazz and Blues Society presents the Performance Works Music Series, with Vancouver-based indie band We are the City and indie-folk group Wake Owl. Both headliners are $15+ for tickets, but there are also a number of free performances. Quebecois singer Saint-Pierre, Thelonious Monk tribute Monk’s Music, jazz pianist and singer Jillian Lebeck Trio, and Arabic and Persian music group Qalandar will all perform two free shows each.

 

New this year at Winterruption is “Meet Your Makers”, a tour showcasing Granville Island spirits. Hosted by travel writer John Lee, the tour visits Dockside Brewery, Granville Island Brewing Company, Artisan Sake Maker, and Liberty Distillery for tours and tastings of beer, sake, vodka, gin, and whiskey. Also on the menu: watch Olympic Winter Games at Edible Canada, take a walking seafood tour, try specialty Winterruption donuts at Lee’s Donuts, taste wine at Liberty Wine Merchants, and take a tour of the Granville Island Market.

You can also get your creative juices flowing with art workshops. Try glassblowing at New-Small & Sterling Studio Glass or make arts and crafts with up-cycled materials at Make. Or, if you prefer to observe, there will be a number of art exhibitions and tours, including an innovative idea exchange between Granville Island artists, artisans, architects, designers, directors, actors, producers, and curators.

In addition, Winterruption will be full of theatre and film. The Francophone Film Festival will celebrate its 20th anniversary at Winterruption this year, while the Fringe Festival presents Hockey Night at the Puck and Pickle Pub, a play that takes place during a Canada-Russia hockey game. You can also find free shows at The Revue Stage and pop-up dancers will be appearing all over Granville Island.

Winterruption will also be in full swing at the Kids Zone, with performances by children’s entertainer Charlotte Diamond, Axe Capoeira, French-Canadian group Alouest, stilt performers Duh Hockey Guys, and Mardi Gras characters Chix on Stix. Kids can also try making maple taffy, get their faces painted, and dance in the street with the Mardi Gras Procession.

We are the City performing in 2011. Photo credit: Vancouver 125 | Flickr

Music

We are the City | Feb 14 | 9pm | $15
Wake Owl | Feb 15 | 9pm | $15
Saint-Pierre | Feb 15 | 12:30pm & 1:45pm | Free
Monk’s Music | Feb 15 | 3:15pm & 4:30pm | Free
Jilliam Lebeck Trio | Feb 16 | 12:30pm & 1:45pm | Free
Qalandar | Feb 16 | 3:15pm & 4:30pm | Free

All shows at Performance Works, 1218 Cartwright Street. Tickets for We are the City and Wake Owl available at Northern Tickets.

Food

Meet Your Makers Tour: Spirits, Sake and Hand Crafted Beer | Feb 15 & 16 | 3-4pm | Granville Island Brewery | $12
Edible Canada House: Festival Under the Bridge | Feb 14, 6pm-1am | Feb 15, 11am-1pm | Feb 16, 11am-Midnight | Edible Canada | $25-$30
Winterruption Donut Spectacular | Feb 14-16 | 9am-7pm | Lee’s Donuts | Market Price
Valentine’s at Liberty Wine Merchants | Feb 14 | 2-5pm | Liberty Wine Merchants | Free
Sustainable Seafood Walking Tour | Feb 15 | 11-12pm | Granville Island Public Market | Free
Granville Island Market Tour | Feb 14-16 | 9-11am | Edible Canada | $40 for 2 people

Arts

Granville Island – An Innovative Idea Exchange | Feb 15 | 8-11pm | Net Loft Shops | $15
I Heart Art | Feb 1-28 | Fridays 10am-6pm, Saturdays 12pm-6pm, Sundays 12-5pm | Ainsworth Custom Design | Free
Haida Carver: Clarence Mills | Feb 14-16 | 11am-4pm | Ocean Artworks | Free
Ikebana at Winterruption | Feb 14-16 | 10am-6pm | Net Loft, Crafthouse, Railspur District | Free
Works on Paper | Feb 14-16 | 10am-4pm | Federation of Canadian Artists Gallery | Free
Mark Lewis Exhibition | Feb 14-16 | 12-5pm | Charles H. Scott Gallery | Free
Circle Craft Student Scholarship Exhibition | Feb 14-16 | 10am-7pm | Circle Craft Co-Op | Free
Crafting at Make | Feb 14-16 | 11am-4pm | Make | Free
Mini Glassblowing Workshops | Feb 15, 11am-5pm | Feb 16, 12-4pm | New Small-Sterling Glass Studio | $35 | Call 604-681-6730 for reservations

Theatre, Dance & Film

Francophone Film Festival 20th Anniversary | Feb 14-15 | 11am, 2pm, 7pm, 8pm | Waterfront Theatre | $5.50+
The Massacre | Feb 14 & 15, 7:30pm, 9:30pm & 11:15pm | Feb 16, 7:30 pm | Ticket prices vary | Call 604-738-7013 for tickets
Hockey Night at the Puck and Pickle Pub | Feb 14-15 | 8pm | Studio 1398 | $25
Stories from Hogan’s Alley | Feb 15 | 3-4pm | The Revue Stage | Free
Tippi and Stan | Feb 15 | 7pm | The Revue Stage | Free
Pop Up Dances | Feb 15-16 | 1pm, 2pm, 3pm and 4pm | Various locations | Free

For Kids

Charlotte Diamond | Feb 15-16 | 11-11:45am | Kids Zone | Free
Axe Capoeira | Feb 15-16 | 3-3:45pm | Kids Zone | Free
Alouest | Feb 15-16 | 1-1:45pm | Kids Zone | Free
Maple Taffy – Canada’s Original Candy! | Feb 15-16 | 10am-4:30pm | Kids Zone | $5
Maskerade Workshop | Feb 15, 10:30am | Feb 16, 4:30pm | Kids Zone | Free
Face Painting | Feb 15-16 | 10:30am-4:30pm | Kids Zone | Free
Duh Hockey Guys | Feb 15 | 12:30-4:30pm | Kids Zone
Parent & Tot Gym and Gogo Bonkers | Feb 16 | 9:30am-Noon | False Creek Community Centre | Free
Mortal Coil Performance Society’s Chix on Stix | Feb 16 | 10:30am-4:15pm | Kids Zone | Free
The Brotherhood of Brass | Feb 16 | 12pm & 2:30pm | Kids Zone | Free
Winterruption Mardi Gras Procession | Feb 16 | 12-12:30pm | Kids Zone | Free

For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit the Winterruption website.

Granville Island. Photo credit: Jason Pier | Flickr

Originally posted by Tourism Vancouver

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ReBlog: Whistler Blackcomb Cracks CNN Travel’s TOP 10 List

13 BC Ski Runs Included in CNN Travel’s List of World’s Top 100 

Serious powderhounds and newbies to the sport share one thing in common: they all have a favourite ski run. One that makes them dream of fresh tracks, and pine for powder on bluebird days.

CNN Travel recently announced their list of the World’s Best Ski Runs: 100 to 1, chosen by an expert panel (including an Olympic medalist, an editor at Powder Magazine and the “godfather of free-skiing” ) – and 13 British Columbia ski runs were named, including one in the top 10!

Read on to find out which BC ski runs made CNN’s list below:

Dave Murray Downhill, Whistler Blackcomb
The only ski run in BC to crack the top 10, Whistler Blackcomb’s Dave Murray Downhill makes a podium finish in spot number two. “This one hosted World Cup Downhill and Super-G races from 1993 to 1995 and was used again at the 2010 Winter Olympics. It was named after a former Canadian ski team member and Whistler’s director of skiing. Steep, fast and spectacular are the words our expert panel use to describe it.”

Blackcomb Glacier, Whistler Blackcomb
Sitting one spot above the top 10, Blackcomb Glacier was picked by Mike Douglas, also known as “the Godfather of free-skiing”, because “it descends one mile of vertical over 13 kilometres and covers a larger variety of terrain than any other run in North America. When you add incredible views, you have an icon.”

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Photo: Whistler Blackcomb

Zig Zag, Whistler Blackcomb
This high-speed run makes the list at 35, and thrills pro skier Matty Richard who loves it because “Zig Zag feels like you’re on a roller coaster.”

Ridge Runner, Whistler Blackcomb
Ridge Runner at Whistler Blackcomb falls nearly halfway at spot number 42. “This intermediate-level, tree-lined run is wide, fun and skirts the edge of the resort, where crowds are rare.”

Bear Run, Fernie Alpine Resort
This Kootenay Rockies gem landed spot 56, and is no stranger to serious snowfall – a key reason it was chosen, especially because it “ makes Fernie’s long gentle cruisers – like Bear Run – great fun, especially on a powder day.”

Bear Run, Fernie Alpine Resort

Bear Run, Fernie Alpine Resort. Photo: Henri Georgi

The Bite, Whistler Blackcomb
Another Whistler Blackcomb favourite is also top choice (and number 70 on the list) for pro skier Logan Pehota: “It’s the first run I go to every time it snows.”

The Cut, Grouse Mountain
It’s hard not to love a ski run that is located just 15 minutes from downtown Vancouver, especially when it offers amazing views of the cityscape. The Cut at Grouse Mountain comes in deservedly at number 73.

Hugh’s Heaven, Whistler Blackcomb
A well-known ski run, Hugh’s Heaven stole spot 75 on the list for its popularity with newer-to-the-sport skiers and boarders, and for the views it affords of Whistler on sunny days.

Ross Gold, Whistler Blackcomb
This Blackcomb Mountain run, named after pro snowboarder (and Olympian) Ross Rebagliati, takes spot 79 on the list. It’s perfect for intermediates, and when not closed for race training, the “even pitch makes it ideal for practicing high-speed turns.”

Kill the Banker, Revelstoke Mountain Resort
“Kill the Banker at Revelstoke Mountain Resort has to be one of the most fun runs in the world.” Hard to argue with this claim from pro skier Sean Cochrane, who says the run (number 81 on the list) has some of the “steepest cliffs known to man while technically being out of bounds, but it’s located directly beneath the gondola, so you’re never too far from hearing the cheers from your peers.”

Kill the Banker, Revelstoke Mountain Resort

Dan Treadway skiing Kill The Banker, Revelstoke Mountain Resort. Photo: Blake Jorgenson

West Cirque, Whistler Blackcomb
Cracking the 80’s, West Cirque is a favourite of pro skier and Rossignol athlete Dan Treadway: “It has some of the best snow and is steep with some fun spines to ski. It also leads you into my second favourite run, which is called Christmas Trees.”

Burnt Stew Trail, Whistler Blackcomb
This 8-mile (km) beginner-level run offers up amazing views over Garibaldi Provincial Park and is the reason it comes in at number 90.

The Cliff, Big White Ski Resort
Kelowna’s  Big White makes the list at number 98 with The Cliff, and was chosen by pro snowboarder Beck Menday of Team Great Britain for “…its near vertical face with amazing chutes to run down, especially on a powder day.”

The Cliff, Big White Resort

The Cliff. Photo: Big White Ski Resort

Is your favourite run missing from the list? Tell us which other BC ski runs would you include in the comments below! For the full list of CNN’s picks, click here.

The post 13 BC Ski Runs Included in CNN Travel’s List of World’s Top 100 appeared first on Explore BC.

Originally posted by Tourism BC

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Maiden Voyage- SilverStar Mountain Resort

We came, we conquered, we… bowled? Yeah, that’s right. SilverStar Resort boasts the only ski BOWLINGin/ski out disco bowling alley in all of Canada. And according to section C of the BlondesVoyage code of ethics, “passing on an opportunity to knock down a few pins after a hard day’s work of shredding in fresh powder is cause for reprimand.” Unfortunately though, I got just spanked out there on those lanes. Apparently, Laurie Logan is some sort of king pin – who knew?

Lets see – what else did we do on our maiden voyage to Silver Star Resort…? Oh yeah, we packed up our menfolk and hitched a ride on a horse-driven sleigh. Under a moonlit sky, we journeyed to the candle-lit Wild Horseman’s Cabin. That’s where family of backcountry cowboys grilled us up a rustic feast fit for a band of outlaws. The whole thing was very “True Grit” of us, I must say – John Wayne would be proud. Pro Tip: Bring your own table wine (there is no booze on the premises).

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As for the snow conditions, Silver Star, which is just NorthEast of Vernon, BC, more than lived up to its champagne powder reputation. So well worth the drive! All the runs are great, but if you want to know where the fluffiest, untapped areas are, ask for Bob, the Ski Guide. He’ll set you straight!

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And if you wanna work those glutes, BV has found the mountain for you. Silver Star is home to Western Canada’s largest Nordic system with 105 km of groomed trails for cross-country skiing and 16 kilometers of single track trails for snowshoeing. Work it girl!

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