Big White Ski Resort reports successful season
It was a strong season for Big White Ski Resort.
Senior Vice-President Michael J. Ballingall says after it started out looking like a mild snow winter, the December snows arrived making for a successful Christmas. He says January business out of Australia and New Zealand was record-breaking, and American visitors also came out in big numbers.
"The Americans are coming because they want a Canadian holiday, and they don't want to talk about Donald Trump," says Ballingall. "They want to talk about the fun-loving Canadain things and they're treated like family up here. And the marketing that we've been doing there in conjunction with Destination British Columbia and Destination Canada is starting to pay off for all resorts in the Central Okanagan."
Ballingall believes one of the keys to the resort's success is how the locals make visitors feel like family.
"Our local customer is our most important customer - they act as our ambassadors. It's fantastic when you can put someone who's local from the Okanagan valley with a destination guest, and all of a sudden you see them dining together, the kids are playing hockey together, they're going tubing together, they're having receptions in their homes or their condominiums together. These are the things that really make the magic experiences at Big White payoff for the entire tourism industry," says Ballingall. "It's like RV'ing or going camping back in the 60's and 70's. Once you met a family that you really liked to hang out with, every summer you'd return to that campsite or that lake. It's very much true for the ski industry as well; people return year after year because of the hospitality they feel from the people of the Okanagan valley."
Ballingall, who's attending the Canada West Ski Areas Conference in Lake Louise, says resorts in BC, Alberta, Quebec and Ontario are all reporting healthy increases in visitor numbers.
Looking ahead, Ballingall says they've been working at making the resort a year-round destination by building a mountain bike park - also expanding some of their restaurants and building new accommodations - the largest construction build since 2008.
This year, Big White employed 900 seasonal workers, on top of 200 year-round staff.