It’s hard to imagine three resorts (linked by an excellent ski bus service) which are so different in ambience - which is why this Alberta triumvirate of Lake Louise, Sunshine Village and Mount Norquay are such attractive prospects…the sheer variety they offer on the same lift ticket. There could hardly be a more beautiful setting than Lake Louise – whether you’re on the mountain looking down at the village or taking in the sublime views from the accommodation. Not only is the frozen lake itself, with its glacier-strewn backdrop, a stunning sight, but the whole Bow Valley mountain range is simply breathtaking. No wonder that for years the “Valley of the Ten Peaks” occupied pride of pace on the back of Canada’s $20 banknotes. By way of contrast, staying in Banff is to enjoy the razzmatazz and frontier-town feel of a town with some of the best après-ski in Canada. Banff’s nearest ski area is Mount Norquay, sometimes referred to as “the locals’ hill” because it’s only four miles out of town. But make no mistake, even though it’s the smallest of the three “Big 3”resorts, Norquay is no picnic. Yes it has easy trails, but some tough ones too. The next closest to Banff is Sunshine Village - the access is just 20 minutes away, although to get to the actual skiing you need to catch a gondola. But then since Sunshine (with three mountain faces, and some skiing that even crosses over into British Columbia) has some of the highest slopes in Canada - and one of the best snow records. So you’d expect to have to travel up up and away to get to even its lower slopes. Since Lake Louise is furthest from Banff (a 45 minute journey) you might want to be based there for your skiing - at some of the exceptionally accommodation on offer. The magnificent old Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise – a former Canadian Pacific Railway hotel - takes some beating, with exceptional views of the lake and the glacier backdrop from many of its bedrooms. Lake Louise, also with with three big mountain faces, has a vast amount of skiing (139 runs) and impressive off-piste opportunities. Altogether the “Big Three” resorts have some 8,000 acres of skiing. (The Canadians, like the Americans tend to talk in acres rather than kilometres). Either way, that’s a hell of a lot of skiing!
Click here Top 10 reasons to ski at Banff-Lake Louise.
Banff is a lively town set in the spectacularly beautiful Banff National Park. Downtown Banff offers traditional Canadian hospitality with an excellent variety of bars, some with live music, and a wide choice of restaurants catering for all tastes and budgets.More information
With almost 140 trails and extensive off-piste, Lake Louise has the biggest international cachet of Banff’s “Big 3” resorts (Lake Louise, Sunshine Village and Mt Norquay). Forty minutes from Banff, Lake Louise offers peace and tranquillity in one of the world’s most spectacular ski settings, with unspoilt views of magnificent peaks, glaciers and the iconic lake.More information