After several years of exchange rates favoring Canadian skiers coming to the United States, the rates have flip-flopped. U.S. skiers can now go to Canada with more favorable exchange rates this winter.
The exchange rate has climbed to the highest it has been in five years for U.S. visitors to Canada. That means U.S. skiers heading north of the border will have dollars with more oomph to pay for lifts, lodging and food. As of Jan. 20, 2015, every U.S. dollar is worth $1.21 in Canada.
Skiers traveling to British Columbia resorts can get a double bonus: take advantage of the exchange rate and explore new elements at several resorts.
The pay-per-run snowcat takes skiers and riders from Grey Mountain up the new terrain on Mt. Kirkup at Red Resort.
Copyright: Erik Kalacis/Red Resort
Over the past two years, Red Resort has gobbled up more terrain. Last year, Red added a new lift to access 1,000 acres on Grey Mountain. This year, the resort tacked on 200 more acres of pay-by-the-run cat skiing on neighboring Mt. Kirkup.
“We have expanded 40 percent more terrain but not added 40 percent more people,” points out Fran Richards of Red Resort. “We have as much skiable acreage as Breckenridge and Jackson Hole but with one-tenth the skier traffic. We've grown lift and cat serviced terrain by 1,200 acres, but per acre we are less crowded than ever.”
The favorable exchange rate for U.S. travelers just adds to the mix of new terrain and minimal people. “Business from the states has picked up significantly with the new terrain expansion,” says Richards.
Red Resort sits above Rossland less than nine miles from the U.S. border. Because of its location, air travelers can fly within the U.S. to Washington’s Spokane Airport, avoiding higher international rates. From Spokane, rent a car to drive 2.5 hours or catch one of the daily shuttles to reach Red.
The shuttle from the airport to Red Resort also runs seven days per week on the same loop to Whitewater Ski Resort in Nelson. With the exchange rate, you can hit the Whitewater’s Coldsmoke Powder Festival, Feb. 20-22.
To explore resorts further north, axe road tripping by flying into central British Columbia. Most flights from the U.S. route connections through Vancouver, B.C. or Calgary, Alberta, before linking to regional airports, such as Kelowna or Kamloops.
A skier rips up fresh powder in Gil's, the newly added terrain at Sun Peaks Resort.
Copyright: Adam Stein
From those airports, you can reach Sun Peaks Resort, which bumped up in size to become Canada’s second largest ski area. The resort added 500 acres this year. Gil’s, a popular backcountry zone on a deep-snow aspect of Mt. Tod, was converted into inbounds terrain. Improved access and egress, glading for more vertical, and a new snow safety program opened the new zone for skiers and riders. In addition, Sun Peaks cut two new steep runs on Mt. Morrisey.
“Skiers and riders have been enjoying some of the deepest turns of the season in the newly opened Gil’s area,” reports Brandi Schier from Tourism Sun Peaks. “Guests from all over the world are blown away by the vast diversity of terrain to discover.”
Kids in a ski school lesson at Whistler Blackcomb.
Copyright: Toshi Kawano/Whistler Blackcomb
U.S. skiers can also take advantage of domestic flights and a favorable exchange rate to visit Whistler Blackcomb. Fly into Seattle and rent a car for the five-hour drive to the resort. Or if the thought of driving with a carload of antsy kids sounds more like work than vacation, then fly in to Vancouver, B.C., where you can rent a car for the 90-minute drive or catch the shuttle that connects to Whistler Blackcomb.
Families from the U.S. can use the exchange rate to help out on upgraded children’s programs at Whistler Blackcomb. The new Whistler Kid’s Centre, located in Creekside Village, uses tot-sized furniture for kids ages 3 and 4. For kids learning to snowboard, the Burton Riglet Park can get them sliding through interactive stations that assist in developing balance and movement. At the Children’s Learning Centre on Whistler Mountain, the resort swapped out the old handle tows to install a covered Magic Carpet lift for protection in inclement weather. Parents can also get a bonus during holiday weeks, such as President’s Week and Easter, with Kid’s Night Out evening activity programs for children.
Locate your passport. Time for U.S. skiers to check out resorts north of the border.