Learning to ski at Sun Peaks Resort
A few weeks ago, we returned to one of our favourite alpine villages in Canada – Sun Peaks Resort. The last time we visited Sun Peaks, back in 2014, Braydon was only 2 years old and Connor was just a few months old. Times have certainly changed since that last visit!
Sun Peaks Resort is located in British Columbia’s Interior, about 45 minutes north of Kamloops and 5 hours drive from Vancouver. It boasts Canada’s second largest ski area, next to Whistler-Blackcomb, and is known for its light, dry powder and sunny blue skies.
We love its European-style alpine village and laid-back family vibe. It’s only 5 hours from Vancouver, yet we feel like we’re in a completely different part of the country.
We visited Sun Peaks over the Easter holiday weekend for a few reasons.
First, it allowed us to have an extended weekend without using our vacation days (this is one of the ways we’re able to travel more). The drive is only 5 hours from Vancouver, so we hit the road early and arrived at Sun Peaks by mid-afternoon. It’s far enough away that you feel like you’re on a road trip, but close enough that you don’t need to lose a full day traveling.
Second, we wanted to put Braydon in ski lessons for the first time and thought it would be best to do this later in the ski season, when the weather is warmer.
Teaching our boys to ski is important to us.
We love playing in the mountains and we want to pass this love on to our boys. But, of course, this will only happen if they embrace the outdoors.
If you’ve read this blog over the past few years, you’ll know that we try to visit at least 3 ski resorts every year, so we’re doing our best to get them comfortable with the ski culture.
Braydon has always been a very cautious boy. He’s not the adventurous type that gets himself lost or into trouble. He likes to play sports and he’s become much more social over the past year, but he can still be quite shy at times, so we had low expectations about him embracing the private ski lessons.
In fact, we didn’t think he would last the full 2 hour session.
The main goal for this winter vacation was to get Braydon on a pair of skis and have him go down the bunny hill a few times. Even if he only lasted 20 minutes per lesson, we felt that would be a big win for him.
At this stage of his development, we just want him to feel comfortable wearing skis. One of our biggest fears is that he would hate skiing without really giving it a fair shake. The last thing we want is for him to have a bad experience and then fight us every time we want to go to the mountain (which will be quite often throughout his childhood).
That’s actually a big reason why we waited until later in the season, when the climate was much warmer. He doesn’t like being cold, he’s more of a beach boy, so we didn’t want to introduce him to a new sport when it’s freezing cold outside.
Sun Tots program at Sun Peaks
Rather then have Braydon get frustrated with us telling him what to do, we decided it was best to enroll him in ski lessons. We really like the variety of family ski programs at Sun Peaks, so we thought the Sun Tots program would be a great introduction for him.
The Sun Tots program at Sun Peaks is designed for children between the ages of 3-7 years old. Each child gets a private one-on-one lesson with a ski instructor for 1, 2 or 3 hour sessions.
We picked up Braydon’s skis and boots at Elevation Ski Shop, located on the retail level of the Sun Peaks Grand Hotel. He was also provided a helmet with his equipment rentals.
We met his ski instructor, Olivia, at the Sundance Kids Centre, located beside the Village Day Lodge at the base of the mountain. In fact, pretty much everything is located near the Village Day Lodge, which is actually quite convenient. We took his brother, Connor, to the Sundance Kids Centre to play for a couple hours so we could watch Braydon and cheer him on.
Braydon learning to ski at Sun Peaks.
Braydon’s lesson began at 9:00 AM. It was a beautiful warm, sunny morning. We could not have asked for better ‘first time skiing’ conditions. Braydon and Olivia spent the first 30 minutes in the dedicated toddler section near the child care facility.
As you can see from the above photos, it’s a relatively flat section with a short magic carpet that transports the little tots back to the top of the slope. It’s not really a hill, it’s more like a gradual slope. At the bottom of the slope was a castle of large, soft cushions that the youngsters would ski towards. As you can see from the video below, they made for a soft landing.
Having trouble watching the above video? Click here to watch on YouTube.
We were so impressed by Braydon’s willingness to give skiing a chance.
He listened to his instructor and got the hang of it pretty quickly. Within 10 minutes he was shooting down the slope without falling. And, more importantly, he was having fun.
Olivia felt that Braydon was ready to take on the bigger kids section near the Sunburst Express chairlift. They quickly developed a great connection and it was clear that he was having fun with her. Because she had build trust with him, she was able to gradually push his comfort zone and get him skiing on the bigger hill.
I’m almost certain he would not have done the same for us.