Chocolate-box cute, Silver Star Mountain Village. Image:: Silver Star/Tim Fitzgerald
Skiing Silver Star | Tess Cook
Silver Star, the quaint British Columbian ski resort, is the ideal family snow holiday destination, I once heard it described as ‘Mollymook on the snow’ by a fellow Australian visitor. Anyone familiar with the NSW seaside town of Mollymook will know half the family demographic of Sydney decamps to Mollymook for several weeks over summer; the other half goes to Silver Star.
In many respects Mollymook and Silver Star are remarkably similar, they’re both relaxed, child friendly villages and they’re both blessed with the ingredients for a perfect family holiday, certainly our family thought so, together with a group of other Aussie families we returned to Silver Star time and again over the years.
Chocolate-box cute village
Silver Star village is a chocolate-box cute approximation of a ye-olde British Columbian mining town framed by the stunning Canadian Rockies. It’s all pillbox reds and sunflower yellows and saloon-style architecture rendered in hyper-colour against a cornflower blue sky. Although this can’t be true, in my memory the sun always shines in Silver Star. I know it can’t be true because the resort has some of the best natural snow going, over 700cm annually actually, but it seems Silver Star has contrived to receive most of its snow at night – clever.
The car-free hamlet is generally completely snow bound; the only traffic on Main Street is the morning ski school rush. There are some great eateries, souvenir and snow sports shops and arguably the best candy store in Canada, to which we made a daily post-skiing pilgrimage.
Backside – frontside
On the front side the slopes are as friendly as the village. But over the backside – the Putnam Creek side – the wide, rolling cruisers give way to some pretty challenging vertical. The variety of terrain meant it was ideal for our family and the group of friends we travelled with annually. From my three year old brother who learnt to ski at Star Kids – to me and my friends; precocious 14 year olds meeting our match on runs like Headwall. Us ‘kids’ deigned to partake of ski school in Silver Star, many years after we took a stand against ski school at home, largely because it was just so much fun. Silver Star has kids, tweens, teens and adults all separated, at 14 we hooned around the mountain with our 19 year old instructor and a gang of similarly speedy 14 and 15 year olds thinking we were all that and stopping only for the world’s best ski refuel – soup in a roll at the Bugaboos bakery.
Putnam Creek powder. Image:: Silver Star/Tim Fitzgerald
A home away from home
The only thing that comes close to a Bugaboos lunch is a home made lunch -Another reason why Silver Star is such a family winner, the tiny resort is mostly made up of self-catered, ski in/out condos; who wants to rely on hotel food and hotel dining hours with a family on a ski trip? Our family did our best to return to the same primary-coloured Silver Star Road property with every visit because it had a direct line from the living room to the Alpine Meadows Chair, we could go home to change goggles, eat lunch, whatever.
Silver Star is where I learnt I had no talent for ice hockey, where I had my first big crush on a ski instructor – Paul, I’ll always remember you, where I first tried curling and where, at 18, I bluffed my way into drinking at the village pub (19 is the drinking age in Canada) by engaging the bar tender in lengthy discussions about my own (very limited) bar tending experience. It’s where I broke my leg (the first time) and had nearly the whole resort staff turn out to commiserate and bring me chocolates – true hospitality – and it’s the resort I think of as my family’s Canadian ‘home’ resort.
Primary-coloured condos are a Silver Star trademark. Image:: Silver Star/Don Weixl
Silver Star Easy 10
1. Vertical Rise : 760m
2. Inbound terrain: 1240 ha
3. Runs: 115 marked downhill trails, 20% easiest, 50% more Difficult, 20% most Difficult, 10% extreme, longest run: 8 km (5 miles), total of 93km (58 miles) of marked runs
4. Parks and pipes: 6.5ha of features catering to all levels
5. Annual snowfall: Over 700cm
6. On mountain accommodation? Yes, extensive
7. Vibe: relaxed and village-y
8. Best for: Families
9. Not for: Anyone looking for an après scene
10. Top tip: Eat lunch at Bugaboos
Air Canada flies direct to Vancouver these days, which is just the best news ever as an LA stopover is to be avoided at all costs! From there it’s another flight into Kelowna and a shuttle up the hill. A car really isn’t necessary unless you’re heading somewhere else as well.
As well as the extensive collection of condos there are several fully catered and luxury hotels in Silver Star, all accommodation can be booked through the website skisilverstar.com