Ski industry officials know that even top-ranked mountain resorts can’t rest on their laurels in this competitive market. Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia, for one, is making a big play for families and this season will be debuting a host of improvements designed for young visitors.
As anyone who skis or snowboards with children knows, on-mountain instruction is just part of the picture. Today’s kids want on- and off-slope fun, eateries with child-friendly fare and terrain that doesn’t restrict them to a small, penned-in area far from the rest of the mountain.
Whistler’s new Family Certified program will offer a mix of facilities and features for children, all marked with an icon that will be displayed where kid-friendly areas, products and services are offered. Signage for family-appropriate terrain, such as Bear Cub run on Whistler Mountain and the Enchanted Forest run on Blackcomb Mountain, will be more prominent, while the Whistler Kids Training Centre on Whistler Mountain will boast improvements to its skills and racing zones. Two on-mountain playgrounds, the Magic Castle on Blackcomb and the Tree Fort on Whistler, also underwent makeovers.
To make these features even easier to find — keep in mind that Whistler Blackcomb offers the most skiable terrain in North America, with 8,171 acres, more than 200 runs, 16 alpine bowls and three glaciers — a Family Certified Route will offer a network of trails that highlight family-friendly areas and points of interest.
(The route is part of a new Wonder Routes system that also includes a Top of the World Route for skiers and snowboarders whose idea of a perfect day includes catching the views from Whistler Blackcomb's four highest peaks; a Steeps Sampler for high-adrenaline skiers and snowboarders; a Gold Medal Route that showcases points of interest from the 2010 Winter Olympics; and the Powder Route that directs skiers and snowboarders to the best powder terrain.)
Finally, the Whistler Kids Training Centre, located under the Emerald Chair on Whistler Mountain, is expanding to include beginner terrain park features.
Whistler Blackcomb's official opening day for this ski season is Nov. 22.