BC ski resorts are ready to welcome you back for another season of fresh snow, fresh air, and wide-open runs with plenty of space to shred. But there are also new considerations to keep in mind, from vaccine passports and wearing masks indoors, to online lift-ticket purchases and on-mountain safety protocols. Here are a few tips to help you plan a successful—and safe—BC ski getaway this season.
Note: This story was originally written in 2020 and updated in October 2021, specifically for the unique travel circumstances of 2021. Information is accurate at the time of publication; we recommend you contact businesses directly to confirm availability and familiarize yourself with their COVID policies.
British Columbia’s 13 ski resorts each have their own unique safety protocols and operating procedures in place this season. For example, Whistler Blackcomb is accepting cashless payments only and requires guests to make a dining reservation at many on-mountain restaurants. Big White’s ticketing will be cashless and online, with physical pick-up at dispensing kiosks in the resort. In short, rules may differ from resort to resort, based on regionalized public health orders. Whichever destination you choose, be sure to go online well in advance to note restaurant operating hours, lift access information, lift ticket booking procedures, cancellation policies, and safety precautions. Bonus: Planning ahead by pre-purchasing lift tickets online saves you time and money.
Have your proof of vaccination handy
Now that you’re proudly vaxxed and relaxed, come prepared to show it. As of October 24, 2021, everyone 12 years of age and older is required to show proof of full vaccination in order to access a variety of indoor settings (proof of at least one dose is required until then). Indoor settings include pubs, restaurants, and cafes with table and patio service, concerts, nightclubs, indoor sporting events, fitness classes, and gyms. If you’re travelling from outside BC, you can bring your provincial or state vaccination details with a photo ID. International travellers can bring their passport and the proof of vaccination used to enter Canada.
Cover Your Face while indoors
Sure, wearing your buff is second nature on the slopes, but make sure it’s at the ready for when you ride the gondola or head indoors to day lodges, restaurants, cafes, and shops. At the time of writing, face coverings are mandatory at all indoor spaces for those aged 12 and over. Fernie Alpine Resort offers an insider tip: Bring two masks with you to the mountain. One tends to get cold and snowy, and you could keep a second mask in your pocket for when you want to be warm indoors.
Be flexible and patient
Part of the charm of visiting BC’s mountain towns is the eclectic array of independently run bars, boutiques, and eateries. It’s important to note that these small-but-mighty businesses are still ramping up after a challenging year, and many have adjusted their operations and hours to deliver the best service possible. Know before you go by researching opening hours of restaurants and shops on their websites and social media channels; they may not be able to open seven days per week just yet, even though they would love to. Remember to be kind and patient with frontline staff—you’re on vacation, after all.
Mingle in mountain communities respectfully
BC’s mountain resorts are welcoming visiting skiers and boarders with open arms while also balancing the need to keep their mountain communities safe. Keep respectful distances and adhere to the requests of individual businesses as they are required to follow public health measures. You’re in other skiers’ and boarders’ playgrounds, so play nice.
Give others space
You’ve got your mask or buff—and that’s great—but be mindful when navigating lift lines, heading into restaurants, or visiting stores. Give others a wide berth, like you would when soaring down the mountain. Uploading with your family or friend group is recommended. Solo skiers and riders can opt to share a chairlift at a safe distance or ride on their own.
Expect a different mountain top dining experience
Hitting the slopes is the best way to work up an appetite. While you may be used to walking straight into on-mountain restaurants and lodges to grab a quick snack or a sit-down meal, things might look a little different this year. For starters, you’ll need to wear your face covering and show proof of vaccination. Resorts may also require reservations for mountain-top dining, especially full-service restaurants. Visit individual resort websites to confirm. A little extra effort is worth it when you can enjoy an alpine lunch with spectacular views.
Be prepared to spend more time outside
Dress warmly or pack an extra layer. You may want to dine on a heated outdoor patio—there are plenty to choose from at BC restaurants and bars. Fuel your mountain adventure by grabbing a meal on the go, then find a comfy outdoor picnic spot to enjoy the fresh air while you eat (don’t forget to pack out your trash).
Get (ski) schooled
Check with your mountain of choice for protocols. Expect reduced group sizes for lessons and camps. The upside? Smaller groups mean more room to move, and even more attention from your instructor. (You’ll be hotdogging in no time.)
Rent gear, worry free
Many rental shops are now offering modified gear rental experiences to increase safety for all involved. Some operators even support door-to-door touchless delivery within resorts. If you need to rent gear, research in advance where you’ll require it, then book ahead and fill out waivers online to minimize touch points. Bonus: You’ll hit the slopes sooner!
Keep your crew small
This is the winter to explore all that BC’s ski resorts have to offer, and who better to rediscover a beloved mountain with (or find a new favourite) than your tight-knit skiing or snowboarding crew? Keep your numbers manageable: The smaller the group, the easier it is to practise physical distancing while minimizing health risks and impacts on the destination. With lift tickets pre-purchased (where required), look for lodgings with amenities that will make it easy and fun to stay in your small group, like full kitchens, ski-in/ski-out access, or private hot tubs. Ask the concierge or reservation agent in advance about options for curb-side meal pickups in resort, or grocery delivery right to your room.
Look beyond the slopes for winter fun
Try fat biking and snowshoeing to snowy cabins for chocolate rewards. Go tubing with your crew or head out for a group skate on an outdoor rink. Check out what each resort has to offer and pay close attention to protocols and safety requirements.
Be mindful (and safe)
You know the drill. Stay home if you are feeling unwell; practise physical distancing and frequent handwashing hygiene; and wear a mask if you are unable to keep a safe distance from those outside your bubble group. Continue to be conscious of your impact—on locals and other visitors alike.