Although Whistler has already made it onto the bucket list of many an Aussie, those with a passion for ski are being urged to also consider the slopes of Alberta.
The ski resorts of Banff, Lake Louise and Sunshine have joined forces to drive that message home in the Australian market, with sales manager Steve Pampel making the journey Down Under earlier this month to spread the word.
While the number of Aussie visitors is most certainly on the rise, the destination faces a number of challenges locally which have prevented it from reaching its full growth potential just yet. First, is that Whistler is “really that iconic destination” for Australians.
“We like to think we are a very different experience,” Pampel said. “Whistler is a fantastic product that a lot of people know about but once they’ve been to whistler, then they want to ski somewhere else.”
For those people, Banff offers a unique experience, he continued.
Another challenge is that it is not a ski-in ski-out destination with only one property, Sunshine Mountain Lodge in Sunshine Village, offering direct access to the slopes.
“A lot of Australians think they need a ski-in ski-out property, but we make it very easy for you,” Pampel countered. “Our tri-area lift ticket provides transfers to your choice of resorts daily so you have access to three amazing ski resorts within 40 minutes.”
There are plenty of other reasons to pay the region a visit, he continued.
“Because we are a UNESCO site and a national park, we don’t overdevelop our resorts so it’s almost like a back-country skiing experience,” he said.
“What I see out at these resorts now, in 30 years my grandkids will be seeing exactly the same thing.”
However, the destination continues to enhance its offering in other ways, specifically by focusing on visitor services. For example, this year will see the introduction of a brand new chairlift at Sunshine Village, the first of its kind in Canada. While over at Lake Louise, the Whitehorn Bistro has been revamped to offer guests a “more fine dining experience”. The Cliffhouse Bistro at Mount Norquay has also been given the fine dining treatment with its “fantastic” views another drawcard.
Pampel also highlighted the great value on offer. The resort’s peak times fall during the summer months, so during winter, when most Australians are inclined to visit, the prices tend to fall and the crowds decline. In addition, the exchange rate, even against the weaker Australian dollar, makes Canada “great value over other destinations”.
However, for those interested in visiting during the Canadian summer, while there will be no snow on offer, there will be plenty of opportunities to get involved in other outdoor pursuits such as hiking and fishing. The summer months also offer idea conditions to view the local wildlife such as moose, elks, deer and coyotes.
“The scenery is amazing in winter but it takes on a different shape in summer,” Pampel said.