Travel Tips

Get general travel tips and information on gaining entry to Canada as well as a great checklist of what to pack for your trip.

General Tips

Clothing

Layering. It’s the key to wearing the right clothing at Big White, no matter what the weather brings. You can always take off a layer of clothing and stash it in a bag if you’re too warm. Gloves, knitted hats – that’s Canada's famous “toque” – a heavy coat, and warm, waterproof footwear are definitely needed in winter and of course you will need your ski/snowboard gear as well. Sunglasses and sunscreen are also a must all year-round- due to the higher UV exposure from the sun at alpine altitudes. A small knapsack/rucksack makes a great way to tote a day's necessities.

Units of Measure

Canada uses the metric system to calculate temperatures in Celsius, speed limits and road distances in kilometers, and gas is sold by the litre (currently about $1.17 CDN/litre as of January, 2011).

Time

Our clocks are set to Pacific Standard Time, and Daylight Saving Time comes into effect as we set our clocks ahead one hour on the second Sunday in March and fall back an hour on the first Sunday in November. This schedule coincides with the United States implementation of Daylight Saving Time.

Currency Exchange

For quick cash, you’ll find automated teller machines (ATMs) around the village. Major credit cards are accepted almost everywhere.

Electrical Connections

The electrical current in Canada is 110 volts, and plugs are two flat parallel prongs – or two flat and one round prong.

Mail and Postage

Letters and postcards can be mailed at Central Mountain Check-In. Postage and delivery times will vary according to international destinations.

Recipient’s Name
c/o BIG WHITE SKI RESORT
5315 Big White Road
Kelowna, BC V1P 1P3

Tips and Gratuities

Gratuities are usually not included on bills in restaurants and bars, and are completely at your personal discretion. Satisfied customers usually leave a gratuity of 15% of the total bill.

Sales Tax

There is a 5% Goods and Services tax (GST) charged on the sale of all products and services in British Columbia. There is a 7% Provincial Sales tax charged on Rental Equipment. Accommodations taxes are 8%.

Customs and Immigration

If you arrive by plane you will clear Canadian Customs and Immigration at the airport and are required to declare your country of origin, your Canadian destination and length of stay, and what articles you are bringing into the country. A valid passport is necessary.

What To Know Before You Go

Before you leave home...

Accommodation bookings are easy with Big White’s Central Reservations, give them a call and they can recommend properties to suit your requirements.
Phone: 250.765.8888

Packing always seems tedious, but here are a few tips for packing for a holiday at Big White Ski Resort!

  • Ski gear and clothes (obviously, but did you remember your gloves, goggles & ski socks?)
  • Layers for skiing in and for going out to dinner in, it is very warm inside, but can get very cold out!
  • Camera, charger and memory cards
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Swimsuits (for the hot tub!)

Snow and fun is what you are coming for, but what will the weather be like while you are here? Well you can check our Forecast on our website.

Getting Here by bus or car, your trip will be smoother than ever with the recently upgraded Big White Road. Snow can be heavy on the highway. Please check weather conditions before you leave and be prepared. If renting a vehicle ask about all-wheel drive options for better handling in the snow. Better yet, hop on the shuttle buses (either from the airport or Greyhound Bus Station) and let someone else do the driving. If you are driving please ensure your vehicle is fitted with appropriate winter tires (with the snow flake icon) and check www.drivebc.ca for current road conditions. Always ensure you have a full tank of petrol before heading up to Big White, the last petrol station before Big White is located on Highway 33 in Black Mountain.

Grocery and liquor supplies are available at The Market at Big White, so you can shop when you arrive (and they will even provide free delivery), but should you like for someone else to do the shopping for you and have your groceries delivered for your arrival, check out www.vacationfoods.com.

When you arrive...

Parking at Happy Valley is nice and convenient if you are just visiting for the day. Car parking is free and it is located with easy walking access to the Gondola which will take you to the top of the village (you do not need a lift ticket to ride the gondola). Or park the Black Forest, you will be within a short walking distance of the lift.

Staying longer? If you booked through Central Reservations, you can drive up to their car park in the village and collect your keys to your condo.

The Village Centre Mall is the heart of Big White Ski Resort. You can’t miss it as it is the building with the Clock Tower! Fondly known as the VCM, this is your one stop to find out everything Big White has to offer! Open daily from 7:00am and late nights Tuesday to Saturday.

Information & Activities Desk is where you can book fun activities like dog sledding and horse sleigh rides! Our fantastic Activities Desk staff can be found just inside the door in the VCM and can also tell you about what’s happening during your stay with us, they can even recommend where to get the best steak on the mountain! You can call them on 250.491.6111 or stop in and say hello. Open from 8:00am each day.

Tickets desks are located in the VCM, Happy Valley Day Lodge, Black Forest Boot Change, Westridge and Ridge Day Lodge, all open from 8am so you have time to collect your lift ticket and get first chair! Check our Tickets page on the website for deals too – the cheapest tickets are available from the Sport Shops in Kelowna!

Lifts are open from 8:45am until 3:30pm (and later in the Spring), we have operate Night Skiing Tuesdays - Saturdays until 8:00pm!

Complimentary Snow Host Tours are available daily. Join one of our knowledgeable Snow Hosts for a free mountain tour to unlock the secrets of Big White. Snow Hosts meet daily in the village at 10:30am. There are also guided cross-country tours at 10:30am Thursday-Sunday. Please call the Concierge Desk on 250.491.6101 for more information.

Renting skis or snowboards? See the expert staff in our Rentals department on the main floor in the VCM to get set up in the latest and greatest gear. Open daily from 8:00am.

Lessons for skiing and snowboarding are available at different times of the day and can be booked at the Ski School Desk in the VCM. The Ski School Team will match you with an appropriate instructor to fine tune your skills or teach you the basics! Phone 250.491.6101.

Repairs, tune-ups and servicing is available in the Repair Shop, downstairs in the Village Centre Mall, Open from 8:30am daily.

Retail therapy is definitely available at Big White! With Big White Kids, Dizzy’s, It's The Snow Gift Shop, Envy Boutique, Ski Dazzle and Village Rider. Most open from 8:30am daily.

Restaurants, cafes and bars are the best places to unwind at the end of a long day on the slopes, and we have something to suit all tastes. Whether you like steak, tapas, are a vegetarian, need gluten free, or just crave a burger we can accommodate! See the Activities Desk for menus from each Restaurant on the mountain and they can even call ahead for you and book your reservation!

Grocery and liquor supplies are available at The Market at Big White, so if you feel like staying in and cooking dinner, they have everything you need.

Getting around the mountain is easy, with most accommodation being ski in / ski out. The Gondola runs from 7:45am to 10pm (and until 11pm on Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays). And for the holidays the On-Mountain Shuttle bus will also be running, see the schedule for details.

WIFI, share your latest ski video and powder photos quickly and easily with our free WIFI. Available in the Village Centre Mall, Happy Valley Day Lodge and TELUS Park! See the Activities Desk if you need a password.

Bathrooms, it’s the question everyone asks “Where are the washrooms?” They are located downstairs in the Village Centre Mall, in all the Day Lodges, and the restaurants on the mountain are even happy for you to stop in and use their facilities if you need to!

Enjoy your time at Big White Ski Resort, we thank you for choosing our mountain!

Entry Into Canada

Entry Requirements for Canada

Need a visa application form? Not sure if you need a passport for your destination? We've put all the information you need at your fingertips.

Travelers Arriving from the US

Traveling by Air
As of now a passport will be required for air travel to or from Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. 
Traveling by Land or Sea 
JANUARY 31, 2008 U.S. and Canadian citizens will need to present either a WHTI-compliant document, or a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver's license, plus proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate. DHS also proposes to begin alternative procedures for U.S. and Canadian children at that time.

Visit GetYouHome.gov for international travel updates.
For detailed information about obtaining or renewing your U.S. passport, visit the U.S. Department of State, Passport Services Office, or access U.S. passport application services from the United States Postal Service.

Anyone with a criminal record (including a DWI charge) should contact the Canadian Embassy or nearest Consulate General before travel. For information on admissibility, applying for a Temporary Resident Permit, Approval of Rehabilitation, or Permission to Return to Canada visit the Washington Canadian Embassy - Visas & Immigration.

For detailed information on entry requirements, including medical exams, working or studying in Canada, and what you are permitted to bring into Canada, visit the Canada International website.

Canada-US Border Requirements Toolkit

International Visitors to Canada

International visitors to Canada (not U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents) must carry a valid passport and, if required, a visa. Citizens from the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Mexico, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia and others do not require a visa to enter Canada. Visit the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website for a complete listing of countries whose citizens require visas to enter Canada.

All other visitors should contact their Canadian consulate or embassy to learn what documents are required. Contact information for Canadian embassies around the world can be found at the Foreign Affairs Canada website.
To learn more about Canadian customs regulations, visit the Canada Border Services Agency website.

Travelers With Children

If you are traveling with children, you must carry identification, such as a birth certificate, proof of citizenship or student visa for each child under 18 years old. Divorced parents who share custody of their children should carry copies of the legal custody documents. Adults who are not parents or guardians must have written permission from the parents or guardians to accompany the children. When traveling with a group of vehicles, parents or guardians should travel in the same vehicle as the children for border crossing.

Customs officers are often looking for missing children and may ask questions about the children who are traveling with you.

Customs and Duty

Visitors are allowed to bring certain goods as part of their "personal baggage", but some products are limited and, in some cases, prohibited by Canada Customs.

Products that are banned include obscene materials, hate propaganda, most weapons and firearms and goods harmful to the environment. 
Importing Items
The following is a list of items you are allowed to bring into Canada tax-free if you are over 19:
* 200gm tobacco, OR 
* 200 cigarettes, OR 
* 20 cigars, OR 
* 200 tobacco sticks per person; 
* 1.5 litres of wine OR 
* 1.14 litres of liquor per person, gifts for relatives and friends, tax-free as long as each gift is valued at CAD $ 60.00 or less. 
Canadian custom brokers or a Canadian Customs office can provide information on transportation companies that offer efficient, cross-border delivery of materials for time-sensitive meetings or exhibits.

Returning Home

The following is a guideline for visitors returning home from Canada and may change at any time. Contact your local embassy or consulate, before returning home, if you are unsure of an item you are bringing back home.

USA Residents--Every 30 days, returning U.S. Citizens are allowed to bring back duty free $400 worth of retail merchandise, provided they have been outside the U.S. for 48 hours. If the length of stay is less than 48 hours, $200 worth of merchandise may be taken back to the USA.

UK Residents--Citizens of the U.K. returning from a non-EU country have a customs allowance of 200 cigarettes, OR 50 cigars, OR 250g of smoking tobacco; 2 liters of still table wine; 1 liter of spirits or strong liqueur (over 22% volume); 2 liters of fortified wine, sparkling wine, OR other liqueurs; 60cc (ml) perfume; 250cc (ml) of cologne; AND £145 worth of all other goods, including gifts and souvenirs. People under 17 cannot have the tobacco or alcohol allowance.

EU Residents -- Each passenger over 17 years of age from a non-EU country is entitled to import the following articles duty-free; in 200 cigarettes, OR 50 cigars, OR 250g of tobacco (or a mixture of all three if their combined weight doesn't exceed 250g); 2l of wine, and 1 l of spirits with an alcoholic content exceeding 22% vol, OR 2 l of spirits/aperitifs with an alcoholic content less than 22% vol, OR 2 l champagne/sparkling wine/liqueur wine; 50 g of perfume; 0.25 l cologne; gifts of a value not exceeding approximately ECU 175. Limits cannot be added for passengers travelling together.

Australian Residents--The duty-free allowance in Australia is A$400 OR, for those under 18, A$200. Personal property mailed back from abroad should be marked Australian goods returned to avoid payment of duty. Upon returning to Australia, citizens can bring in 250 cigarettes OR 250g of loose tobacco; and 1.125ml of alcohol. If you're returning with previously owned valuable goods, such as foreign-made cameras, file form B263.

New Zealand Residents--The duty-free allowance for New Zealand is NZ$700. Citizens over 17 can bring in 200 cigarettes, or 50 cigars, OR 250g of tobacco (OR a mixture of all three if their combined weight doesn't exceed 250g); plus 4.5 liters of wine and beer, OR 1.125 liters of liquor. 

New Zealand currency does not carry import or export restrictions. Fill out a certificate of export, listing the valuables you are taking out of the country; that way, you can bring them back without paying duty.

Visitors to Canada from countries not listed here should check before they leave what their limits are for duty-free.

Packing for the Trip

Clothing and Gear

"Dressing in layers" is the key to staying comfortable at Big White, no matter what the weather brings. You can always take off a layer of clothing and stash it in a bag if you're too warm. Gloves, knitted hats - that's Canada's famous "toque" – an insulated jacket, and warm, waterproof footwear are definitely needed in winter and of course you will need your ski/snowboard gear as well, unless you plan to rent.

Sunglasses and sunscreen are also a must due to the higher UV exposure from the sun at alpine altitudes – unprotected skin can burn, even on cloudy days. On snowy days, goggles are a must; especially those with lenses designed for overcast conditions. A small backpack is a great way to tote the day's necessities, and there are lockers at Happy Valley and in the Village Centre Mall. Conversely, with so much ski-in and ski-out accommodation, you can always return to your condo if you need more gear.

Check with your travel agent or airline about various weight and bag restrictions; these can vary greatly from one carrier to the next.

Book Your Shuttle to the Resort Before You Leave

Unless you plan on driving back and forth to Kelowna or exploring other resorts in the vicinity, a rental vehicle is not needed at Big White. You can book your shuttle in advance by e-mailing or calling Central Reservations. 
Click here for more information on our shuttle services.

Arriving in Canada and Clearing through Customs and Immigration 

If you arrive by plane you will clear Canadian Customs and Immigration at Kelowna International Airport and are required to declare your country of origin, your Canadian destination and length of stay, and what articles you are bringing in to the country that will not leave with you when you depart (gifts for family members or friends, etc).

Once you are through to the main terminal, our Big White airport hosts will be in place near the entrance or at the Visitor's Desk - Look for their yellow vests. If you have arranged a shuttle beforehand, the hosts will have a list of passengers booked on the shuttle and are there to assist you.

The airport hosts are stationed within Kelowna Airport and assist guests with finding the correct shuttle or any other info needed.

Feeling Hungry?

Depending on what time you arrive at the resort, you can either shop at the Market at Big White, have Vacation Foods deliver your food prior to your arrival, or have Smart Meals deliver your ready to cook meals prior to your arrival.
Pick up the basics at the Market at Big White located in the Whitefoot Lodge. The Market also offers a deli, video/DVD rentals and alcohol, featuring a great selection of local BC and international wines. The Market at Big White is now four times larger than before, with lots of new services including a 60 seat deli that provides yet another great place to eat on the mountain.

Hours of Operation
Monday - Saturday: 8:30am - 9:00pm
Sunday: 8:30am - 7:00pm
Phone: 250.765.7666

Vacation Food Service will take your order before you leave home and make sure that you arrive to your condo with a well-stocked refrigerator and cupboards.

Order online at: www.vacationfoods.com
For prices and information please call: 250.862.3466 or 1.877.443.3663.
Email: info@vacationfoods.com

Don't want to cook?

Smart Meals is the Okanagan's best provider of convenient, delicious, ready to cook meals. We offer nutritious, cost effective alternative to fast food, eating out, and last minute grocery store shopping. We deliver to Big White!

Call us on 250.869.7678, toll free 1.877.286.3257, or order online at: www.smartstartmeals.ca.

Travel FAQ's

Do you have any transportation into Kelowna?

Do you have any transportation into Kelowna?

We have a shopping shuttle that departs every Saturday and Sunday at 9am, Tuesday and Thursday at 8:30am and Wednesday evening at 5pm from Happy Valley for $12.00. The shuttle will drop off passengers off at Orchard Plaza shopping centre.