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Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Family skiing at Sunshine

Posted: 12/20/2008 1:00 AM | Comments: 0

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From the top of the high-speed gondola that takes you from the parking lot up to the base of Sunshine Village, you realize one thing about the ski resort. It's big. Actually big is an understatement -- it is huge.

Located along the Continental Divide, Sunshine Village is the highest ski resort in the Canadian Rockies with an abundance of natural snow, the longest ski season, and more lifts than any other resort in the Rockies.

But what about families?

Sunshine has gone through many changes since it was established 80 years ago, and the latest changes are making it more family-friendly.

Recently, Sunshine's ski school, its terrain park and the on-site hotel have all been made more appealing for families.

Sunshine has one of the best ski schools in the Rockies and employs more than 100 instructors. This makes it a great place to learn to ski better. It also has an excellent day-care program and children ages three and up can participate in a stay and ski program that includes a one-hour ski lesson in the morning, and another one in the afternoon.

The terrain park at Sunshine is also a big hit for families with teens. Two terrain parks cover five hectares and have more than 50 features especially designed so boarders and skiers can show off their tricks.

Perhaps the biggest change this year is with the hotel that is in the middle of a two-season remodelling project, and has been renamed the Sunshine Mountain Lodge

Still the only slopeside lodging in Banff National Park, it's more family-friendly, with evening programs that include game nights and outdoor activities. There are also new menus in the restaurants and new policies prohibiting guests from bringing in alcohol and/or disturbing other guests late at night.

While the ski resort is bracing itself for a decline in the number of overseas visitors, it's hoping the family-friendly changes will help to increase the number of other visitors who decide to stay and play there.

"With the economic slowdown, a lot of Albertans are saying that it's not a good year to venture far from home and spend a lot of money on a family vacation," says Doug Firby, associate director of communications for Sunshine Village Ski and Snowboard Resort.

"Even though we've seen a decline in the number of U. S. and overseas visitors, our daily skier count is actually higher than it was last year.

"Alberta's young skiers and boarders and their families are looking for a thrill and we're providing it for them."

-- Canwest News Service

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 20, 2008 E5

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