Monday, February 11, 2019

Pretty, Playful, Powder-Perfect Panorama

Panorama Mountain Resort

En route from Sun Peaks to Panorama, a six and a half hour drive, we managed to find a much-needed coffee stop at Steamers in Sorrento by the beautiful Shuswap Lake. Such a gorgeous setting, and the cutest eclectic café: part grandma’s living room full of knickknacks, part trendy vegan and GF eatery. Almond decaff latte and GF brownie for me, Rupert got his herbal tea and giant vegan cookie - described as a whole breakfast worth of seed and nut calories - and easier-to-please Simon had his usual straightforward coffee and muffin. Something for everyone. I mention this because as you can imagine with our different tastes, it can be difficult to stumble upon the right places when on the road.  

Panorama Mountain Resort

Panorama Mountain Resort
Lavish Lodging
We were heading to topnotch Taynton Lodge which looks out right onto Panorama’s two beginner areas – a perfect spot for families with kids who’re learning to ski or snowboard. You can ski from all the different slopes right up to the ski locker room door, leave everything outside on the rack by the bbq during rest and lunch stops, and everyone can come and go as they please. 

Hot tub at Taynton Lodge
You could even surreptitiously watch your kids’ progress from the lavish living room. 

Great for us adults, too, with pluses like having our own really pretty outdoor hot tub for the building, friendly and fun but not quite so public as the resort hot tubs - not to mention just downstairs. 

Large family kitchen and dining area, so great for our vegan chef on the night's we stayed in by the cosy fire with a game of fiercely-fought Scrabble on the coffee table.  

Panorama Spa and huge hot tubs - By Kari Medig for Panorama Mountain Resort
However, it is well worth a visit to the main spa, too, with its swimming pool-sized tubs, often full of interesting people - some of whom take a month away from their life in Australia to stay at Panorama.

Monster Terrain at Panorama Mountain Resort
Monster Mountain
Monster X cat rides at Panorama Mountain Resort
Having skied at Panorama as a family regularly over the past 19 years, it was fun to return with our grown up son in tow. He hadn’t been back for many years due to university in the USA and lots of international travel since. For him the differences were mega – for example, the Monster Terrain which he loved. New this year is the Monster X $15 cat ride at weekends to reduce hike-in time – now it’s just around a 10-min schlepp to where the cat picks up. Over 128 acres, the cat takes 12 people at a time to four off-piste double-diamond lines from 10-3 every weekend. It also runs on bonus days over the Christmas/New Year period and there are four-ticket packs for $50 and an unlimited season pass for $199. The Monster itself is a steep open face, the centrepiece of the thrilling terrain, and there are lines accessible by further hiking to the Goldie Plateau. This is phase one of a multi-year terrain expansion. 

Lusti's Cappuccino Bar at Panorama Mountain Resort
Charismatic Café
Fave morning coffee spot is Lusti’s Cappuccino Bar, great for lattes, quick croissant breakfasts, cosy chats with other skiers, and of course ski rentals – it’s one of the few rental outfits in resorts that has a convivial café, too. We met there with Clarissa Amaro, Panorama’s Marketing, Media & Customer Relations expert, for a chat about latest innovations and trends at the resort. The expansion of the expert Monster Terrain and Monster X are topping this season’s list, of course. But there are lots of other projects and plans afoot, including supping up the resort’s nightlife - check out the new Dining & Après Guide which includes MUST EAT and MUST DRINK suggestions. 

Craft and creativity at Saffire - Panorama Mountain Resort
Arts and Artisans
Home to Bavin Glassworks for many years and now hosting Saffire Bead & Flameworks, Panorama is getting more into contemporary culture these days with the new Artym Gallery featuring Canadian artists including Angela Morgan – a local artist from nearby Fernie, BC.

Wild Mountain Chocolate by Tracy Connery Photography
Organic ingredients for Wild Mountain
Chocolates - by Tracy Connery Photography
Panorama is also selling tempting treats from the Wild Mountain Chocolate Factory in the Picnic Cafe, cute Candy Cabin and General Store. “They make the best pocket chocolates for skiing,” Clarissa enthused. Vegan, organic and roasted inhouse, the craft chocolates are sold all over the Kootenays from the “bean to bar” factory, based just down the road in Invermere. Founder, Glen Davies decided to start a new venture after a lifestyle relocation to nearby Invermere – a peaceful place for him and his family to escape the Vancouver rat race. “We’re seeing more lifestyle movers bringing a new entrepreneurial spirit to Panorama, as well as those who were in the finance and banking worlds re-inventing their lives,” says Clarissa.

Brits Abroad
International visitation is on the rise with 45 percent of all winter visitors to Panorama coming from abroad. “The UK market is up 30 percent,” said Clarissa. “We have guests coming with tour operators like Ski Safari, Ski Independence, Crystal TUI, Ski World. Australia and New Zealand are both up, especially those seeking their first white Christmas. It helps that the Canadian dollar is weak against their currencies.” With even January weeks booked solid with international guests, Panorama is looking forward to getting even more attention: “As more resorts are bought by Vail Resorts, it will be harder for Australian tour operators who are not selling Epic. We think as more resorts go to Epic Pass, we will get more independent travelers,” Clarissa explains. We also bumped into Steve Paccagnan, a Lusti’s regular, who is working with Ecosign at the moment on plans for the trendy modernization of The Pine Inn.

Us looking a bit squiffy in the T-Bar at Panorama Mountain Resort
Active Après
The T-Bar was rocking as usual with a new DJ and sound system ready to crank the sounds up for dancing and general jollity. It’s always been the resort’s hub for après ski, scene of many a nacho platter, beers and bevvies for us. This season they have weekly events including Musical Bingo, Dueling Pianos and a full program of music sessions leading up to the High Notes Music Festival Mar 22-24.

Elkhorn Cabin, Panorama Mountain Resort
Mile 1 Hut slopeside firepit - Panorama Mountain Resort
Fondue Fetish
Panorama is definitely a hub for Alpine cuisine. There are four different fondue locations: the heli-ski fondue at Summit Hut; a snowcat three-course fondue feast at Mile 1 Hut (which is also a great fireside stop-off for mid-mountain munchies such as bison, burgers or salmon); a cat-accessed Swiss Raclette at Elkhorn Cabin (where you can also ski in/out to during the day); and fondues and ‘pierre chaud’ (hot stone tabletop cooking) at Choppers Landing where the new Austrian chef is intent on expanding the menu’s Alpine appeal.

Summit Hut, Panorama Mountain Resort
Vital Veggies
As usual on the hunt for vegan victuals, Rupert discovered a veggie burger and vegan chili at the Summit Hut – very convenient for Taynton Bowl binges or a Monster terrain trek. It’s also the cutest café and the scene of many kiddie stop-offs when our sons were young, attracted primarily by the jar of grandma’s cookies on the counter – maybe they could upgrade them to gluten-free, lactose free for modern Millennial munching? The Daylodge offers the ‘Beyond Meat Burger’ (of A & W fame) with gluten free buns (which I’ve tried and they are amazing, just like the meat version), a vegetarian stir fry and chili in sourdough breadbowl.

Panorama Mountain Resort
Peak Powder
Perfect Panorama powder! We lucked out first day with a dump the night before and raced off first thing to ski Taynton Bowl’s Extreme Dream area before anyone else. Taynton involves one hour loops, going up three chairs and into the former heli terrain bowls, then back along the ski out to start again at Mile 1 Lift. Knowing the typical track others take, we avoided that by heading to Sun Bowl a bit later, getting that ungroomed and untracked. Couldn’t have been better: no-one else there, great pow and lovely interesting runs with fabulous Purcell Mountains and valley views. We’ve discovered the best routes over the years by skiing with Panorama’s Mountain Hosts who are so knowledgeable, so experienced and also so much fun. 

Tactical Timing
None of the resorts we’ve visited so far on our December BC Ski Safari have been too busy. It’s that time of year when people are either waiting until the snow is really established, haven’t quite got into skiing mode yet, are still Christmas shopping, or have lots of office, friend and family parties going on. Panorama is not holiday hectic until Dec 27, so the week up to Boxing Day is a great time to come: full of festive flair, everyone excited about early season skiing and the lull before the peak holiday-season storm. While the Christmas cats are away, the mountain mice will play!

Panorama Mountain Resort

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Panorama Mountain Resort

Mountain Stats
Panorama has 2,975 acres of terrain – ranging from wide open fall-line cruisers to powder-filled tree lines and the steep and deep exhilaration of Taynton Bowl.

The ski area is perfect for a variety of abilities with 75% of the runs suitable for beginners or intermediates. Think wide open groomers, winding down the fall-line right to the village or the door of your condo.

Panorama Mountain Resort
For black-diamond runs, head to Taynton Bowl. Formerly a heli-skiing area, Taynton Bowl is now within bounds, so the slopes are patrolled, avalanche controlled and no backcountry gear is needed. Warm up first as the 750 acre bowl is all black runs. It’s a great place to find hidden powder stashes days after a storm.

  • 2018/2019 Winter Season: December 7 2018 - April 14 2019
  • Vertical Drop: 1300m / 4265 ft
  • Base Elevation: 1150m / 3773 ft
  • Summit Elevation: 2450m / 8038 ft
  • Terrain: 2975 patrolled acres
  • Average Snowfall: 500 cm / 196 inches
  • Snowmaking: 40% of main named runs
  • Trails: 129 named trails
  • Terrain: 20% beginner, 55% intermediate/advanced, 25% expert
  • Uphill Capacity: 8500 skiers per hour
  • Longest Run: 6.5 km (located in Taynton Bowl)
  • Lift System: 10 lifts. 1 Village Gondola, 2 Express Quad Chairs, 2 Quad Chairs, 1 Triple Chair, 1 Double Chair, 1 Platter, 2 Carpet lifts
  • Average Winter Temperature: -5C / 25F

Panorama Mountain Resort
Panorama Mountain Resort
  • World Snow Awards: Shortlist for Family Resort of the Year
  • World Snow Awards: Shortlist for Summit Hut for best Après Ski Venue
  • Kootenay Business Magazine  - Best of Business Gold - East Kootenay Getaway
  • Kootenay Business Magazine  - Best of Business Platinum - East Kootenay Ski Area
Panorama Mountain Resort
  • 2011: BC Alpine Association - Mountain Resort of the Year
  • 2011: Resorts HR strategy recognized by Tourism Industry Association of BC - Employees First Award
  • says Top 10 Vertical
  • USA Today says Top 10 Pool
  • Awarded ‘Best New Terrain’ “Taynton Bowl” by Skiing and Ski Canada Magazine 2001
  • Awarded ‘Best and Biggest Hot Tubs’ by Ski Canada Magazine 2001
  • Awarded ‘Best Ski School in Canada’ by Ski Canada Magazine 1999 and 2000
  • Awarded ‘Best Grooming and Cruising’ by Ski Canada Magazine 1998 and 1999
  • Awarded ‘Best Fine Dining’ for Toby Creek Dining Room by Ski Canada Magazine 2000
  • Greywolf signature hole “Cliffhanger” recognized as ‘One of Canada’s Ten Best Holes’ by The Globe and Mail 2002
  • Awarded ‘Best New Canadian Golf Course’ by Golf Digest magazine 1999
  • Greywolf Golf Course recognized as ‘one of the top courses in Canada (out of 1,725) and one of the top four courses in western Canada’ by Golf Digest magazine 2001
  • Score Magazine – Runner-up Best New Course in Canada 2000
  • Golf Digest Places to play – 4 Star (outstanding) 2001
  • Score Magazine Top 50 Canadian Courses 2000
  • Best Attached Home Plan, National Sales and Marketing Awards (USA)
  • Best Multi Family Housing Project, Canadian Home Builders Association
  • Best Website, Canadian Home Builders Association of British Columbia
  • Three Gold Nugget Awards of Merit for real estate

Panorama Mountain Resort