We’ve just come out of the strangest summer in recent memory and have slipped into fall. That means winter is not far away and with it, the lure of snow-capped mountains and ski adventures. How does a heli-skiing holiday sound?
No one knows what the winter will bring. But in the province where towering peaks rule, ski operators in B.C. are making plans to bring Canadians to the great outdoors to enjoy a powdery adventure when the snow finally comes.
“There’s uncertainty right now as we don’t know what the winter will look like given another expected surge of COVID,” says Michelle Hopkins, a travel writer based in Victoria, B.C. Hopkins has her finger on the pulse of the ski scene.
“Having said that, I know Whistler is up and running and there are incentives out there.”
So scratch that travel itch and check out these three top-tier opportunities that just may make your winter a little brighter – and whiter.
Last Frontier Heli-skiing
Are you a gambling man? If yes, then you could win big. Last Frontier is offering a one-time deal only for Canadians living in Canada. But it all depends on which way the COVID -19 pendulum will swing.
If you book a trip with them this year, depending on the status of the U.S. border closures, you may end up grabbing an epic heli-skiing adventure in northern British Columbia for 50 percent off the regular price.
Here’s how it works. Pick a package and put down a $1,000 fully refundable deposit. Last Frontier’s Steve Rosset says there are two possible scenarios. If the U.S. border into Canada remains closed for recreational travel by the time your booked trip comes up, then it’s yours for half price.
In the second scenario, if the borders open up, you can still go on the trip, but you’ll have to pay full price.
Safety, first and foremost
“We launched this offer in early August and the response has far exceeded our expectations,” says Rosset. “Clearly, people are excited about the value proposition. It effectively puts heli-skiing in the same bracket as lodge-based cat skiing. We are communicating to anyone putting down a $1,000 refundable deposit that a final operating decision will be made by Nov. 30. At that point, we will commit to operating either a border-closed scenario with half-price heli-skiing for Canadians only. Or borders open and full price tours for everyone.”
No matter what the price you will end up paying – should you choose to throw your tuque into the ring – Rosset assures that all the correct COVID protocols will be in place to ensure a safe adventure.
Last Frontier – Click on image to enlarge and view gallery
Bella Coola Heli-sports and Maple Leaf Adventures Yacht-based Heliski Adventure
Dubbed a ‘soar and explore’ adventure, this heli-skiing trip combines a luxury yacht experience planned for March 2021. A totally awe-inspiring trip, guests are treated to endless amenities such as private helicopter flights, fjord cruising, kayaking and paddle boarding, seafood feasts, and unlimited powder in a curated ski program.
Designed for groups of up to eight skiers and riders, a unique twist to this adventure is staying on a 138-foot catamaran featuring spacious cabins, elegant lounges and dining, and lodge-quality amenities. Plus there’s a hot tub on the top deck boasting 360-degree views of the surrounding fjords.
Bella Coola, images by Eric Berger, Jussi Grznar, Eric Poulin, Damian Cromwell and Paul Morrison: Click on image to enlarge and view gallery
Entry into the trip is not for those with slim wallets. You can grab the fun and games starting at $319,000. Remember, this is one of their trips, and is for larger groups. Check out the details on it here. Tim Wilkinson from Bella Coola is optimistic that die-hard skiers aching to feel the freedom of the outback will sign up.
“It’s early days yet, but we have already fielded some requests for more information. It looks like we have two certain bookings already,” he said. “They love the fact that we ski in small groups (other operations ski in soccer team sized groups!). And all our lodges are intimate (our largest hosts just 16 guests and our smallest just 5 people. This makes them ideal for a full buyout, just like the MV Cascadia … and perfect for social distancing.”
If you can’t get away yourself and need to bring the family along, there’s no better place than Whistler/Blackcomb. This popular ski destination announced in August that it would be opening as usual on Nov. 26. That being said, COVID is still at the forefront of everyone’s mind. So they are opening with a new reservation system to keep everyone safe.
There are more than 8,100 acres of snow-covered slopes, 16 alpine bowls, three glaciers, and world-class terrain parks. Plus 200-plus marked trails and an average snowfall of 38.9 feet per year. It just may be the perfect Canadian ski getaway, with our without the fam.
And if you prefer to social distance, then you’ll like what’s on the Whistler/Blackcomb blog. “It’s also worth noting that there’s the potential for the border between the United States and Canada to remain closed, as well as restrictions staying in place for international travel.
This could mean that the amount of people travelling to Whistler for the winter season will mostly be Canadian and heavily reduced. Therefore, we’ll have the same amount of terrain and potentially fewer people – I’ll leave you to do the math.”