THERE ARE LOTS MORE MAGICAL SKI MOMENTS WAITING FOR US – AND BOY, DO WE HAVE SOME CATCHING UP TO DO
Chairlift chats with friends. The feeling of fresh corduroy under your skis. The first sip of a vin chaud at après. The sensation of weightlessness on a powder run. Ski school stories at the end of the day.
There are so many magical moments on a ski holiday – moments we have missed this last year, or longer. But as the nights draw in, and autumn slips into winter, we know that those experiences are not far away. Before we know it we will back to doing we all love and live for: skiing.
For those of you desperate to get back on the slopes ASAP, a trip to Alberta with Crystal Ski Holidays is a great option. The Western Canada province is an early season storm magnet, which means that its resorts start turning their lifts as early as mid-November, with the season extending to mid-May for those who don’t want to hang up their skis when spring arrives.
A VIEW TO THRILL
Boasting diverse terrain and stunning scenery, Banff and Lake Louise are home to three snowsure ski areas, all covered under one lift pass: Sunshine Village, Lake Louise and Mount Norquay. While the smallest of the resorts, Mount Norquay (pronounced Nork-way), is popular for its family friendliness, people love Sunshine Village for its bowls, glades and drops galore – ridiculously fun in powder.
Meanwhile, Lake Louise, one of the largest ski resorts in Canada (a mega 4,200 acres) has something for everyone, and last winter opened new terrain at West Bowl – the first new in-bounds terrain to open at the resort in 25 years, with a new quad chairlift accessing a fine range of intermediate, advanced, and expert terrain, following the resort’s policy of providing access for pretty much every level of skiing from every chair lift.
If the terrain is the best thing about skiing in Alberta, then its views are a close second. Lake Louise, in particular, encapsulates the quintessential Canadian National Park scene: a panorama of mountains, glaciers, lakes and forests that is nothing short of spectacular.
You can opt to stay in tranquil Lake Louise (skating on the lake is a must), or the larger town of Banff – a historic mountain town with numerous bars, restaurants and museums. Whichever you choose, it is just a short shuttle ride between the resorts in a comfy, spacious coach – sit back and enjoy the views, looking out for grazing elk and moose as you go.
If, when arriving in resort, you would rather follow a local-in-the-know than navigate the area yourself, we have some good news for you: you can benefit from free ski guiding. Local hosts, who know these mountains intimately, are available daily to show you around – at no cost.
Fancy a day off skis? Go snow biking, dog sledding – or relax in some hot springs. At 1585m, the Banff Upper Hot Springs are the highest in Canada, with super views across the valley to Mount Rundle.
North-west of Banff and Lake Louise is the Alberta resort of Jasper. Located in what is the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies, Jasper is known for its vast wilderness, majestic peaks, abundant wildlife and stunning natural beauty. The ski area, Marmot Basin, has terrain for all levels and interests, from mellow tree-lined slopes for beginners to challenging double black diamond runs for experts.
Jasper is a quaint little town that makes for a lovely winter base – even if you aren’t skiing. Elk and deer are often seen wandering around town, and there are some charming cafés to cosy up in. Drive 10 minutes north of Jasper for a canyon adventure like no other. In summer, the Maligne Canyon is a raging river, but in the winter months it freezes over, creating an incredible winter ice walk. It is the deepest canyon in Jasper National Park, and the hardiest of souls scale its vertical sheets of ice.
CHOICE, VALUE AND REASSURANCE
Mount Norquay or Marmot Basin. A day on skis, or off. The choice is yours. In fact, with over 100 resorts on offer across Europe and North America, accessible from more than 15 UK airports, Crystal is all about choice. And with three ways to book (online, via phone or in one of Crystal’s hubs), getting your dream trip nailed down is easy.
Crystal is all about value, too. All holiday packages include flights, transfers and accommodation, so you don’t need to spend hours trawling the internet looking for deals – which leaves you more time to stomp around the house in your ski boots getting psyched for your trip.
So, you have decided to bite the bullet and book that much needed, much dreamed about, winter ski holiday. But, perhaps you are feeling apprehensive about travelling in these uncertain times? No need. Crystal has rolled out its Crystal Holiday Promise, so you can book and travel with confidence.
If your holiday can’t go ahead for reasons related to Covid-19 – like changes to the FCDO advice – you’ll be able to change your booking to another date fee-free or receive a full refund. You’ll also be able to change your booking to another date fee-free if someone in your party is diagnosed with Covid-19 or is officially required to self-isolate at the time of your trip.
If you book a package holiday, you’re protected under the package holiday refund guarantee, too. This means that if Crystal needs to cancel your holiday, for whatever reason, you’ll be able to change your booking to another Crystal holiday fee-free, or you can opt for a full refund.
And of course, your holiday will be protected by ABTA and ATOL, too.