Sun Peaks climbing ever higher with improvements

Skiing at Sun Peaks

A new all-season adventure playground, new parking lot, new childcare centre, new luxury real estate, more employee housing for 2024 and the promise of a new high-speed quad chairlift.

It’s no wonder Sun Peaks Resort officials are excited about the 20023-24 season, which launched on Nov. 18. And they are even more excited for the 2024-25 season.

"This summer, a new accessible adventure playground, family gathering and picnic area, including amphitheatre seating, and a new stage in the arena were added to the already impressive ice rink, meeting space and gym at the Sun Peaks Centre at the top of the Village," said Colin Brost, senior director for destination and market development at Tourism Sun Peaks.

"The playground utilizes the latest designs and features, including a challenging rope course with climbing ramp and rope slalom, and a Cocowave pendulum swing. The playground will be accessible year-round enhancing the family-friendly charm that Sun Peaks is renowned for."

The new $400,000 P1 parking lot was built at the entrance to the community, right beside the Burfield Chair, with space for up to 60 vehicles, a public boot change and washroom.

The resort municipality is also completing work on the Sun Peaks Community Daycare, a childcare facility for 45 children located next to the new school portables beside the P5 parking lot, thanks to a $1.8 million grant from the province through its Childcare B.C. New Spaces Fund.

With residential developments like the 40-unit Altitude and the 30-unit Powder Heights now ready for homeowners, last summer's construction efforts focused on Switchback Creek and the new Alder Estates, all in the east village area, just a short walk from the village core.

Switchback Creek has 84 luxury two- and three-bedroom alpine homes with high-end designer finishes, large outdoor spaces and hot tub/gas BBQ connections. Alder Estates has 16 single-family lots. Building footings were poured and services installed; permanent road access was completed and paved.

Phased construction of the new $12-million-dollar West Bowl Express chairlift by Doppelmayr is on schedule with lift terminal and tower foundations poured last summer and the electrical supply installed.

“As Sun Peaks continues to evolve, this significant new lift infrastructure will diversify the experience in an important pod of terrain. Guests will have additional trails and vertical to explore with the convenience and efficiency of detachable-lift technology.” said CEO Darcy Alexander.

It follows other substantial improvements in recent years: the new Orient chairlift, Crystal chairlift replacement, and last year's hugely successful expansion of lift-accessed mountain biking via the Sundance Express. With a planned opening in November 2024, the West Bowl Express will be the third new chairlift to open in six years.

Workers dug the foundations for more employee housing, extended water mains, and relocated existing sewer and gas lines last summer. Construction of the 58-unit complex commenced with the first units in this $12-million investment expected to be ready for occupancy in November 2024.

For younger skiers, a popular run called The 3 Bears was improved with the addition of The Bear’s Lair Kid Zone. It follows a simple storybook arc—beginning, middle and end. Once kids enter through an archway, they are greeted by a variety of different bear characters. It is the first of four Kids Adventure Zones planned for subsequent ski seasons at other locations, each following a 'forest friends/dwellers' theme.

Local businesses also have something new to offer. Ohana Market and Deli has expanded, introducing a broader range of unique locally grown and raised gourmet products.

The business was launched in 2019 by long-time resident Bobbe Lyall, who realized her vision of opening a business grounded in sustainability, community nourishment, local organic produce, rangeland meats and intricate charcuterie boards.

"We will introduce even more international tasty treats and specialty foods including fine truffle oils, healthy alternatives and take-home family meals," Lyall said. "In addition, Ohana now also offers in-house seating for those who want to dine-in and truly appreciate the Ohana experience."

"Bobbe often visits the farms which supply her meats and produce so she knows the farmers personally, and frequently oversees the cattle and crops that will one day be in her store," said Brost.

Chris and Taryn Schwanke of Mountain Man Adventures (MMA), current owners of Sun Peaks' dog sled tours, are adding a new adventure as the new owners of Sun Peaks snowmobile tours. Operations and rates will remain the same as the Sun Peaks Resort service with only a few minor scheduling changes. Two-hour tours will be offered five days a week (Wednesday to Sunday) at 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.

"MMA is thrilled to be taking on this new project and hopes to enhance what was already a uniquely amazing Sun Peaks' experience," said the partners. Bookings can be made directly with Mountain Man Adventure at www.mountainmanadventures.ca or via email at [email protected].

Justin Osborne of Blue Chest Games will offer a mobile service called Murder on the Mountain that brings everything you need for a night of mystery. You can step into the role of either suspect or murderer in this unique murder-mystery game where you must solve the crime or deceive your fellow players.

The resort's efforts have not gone unnoticed in the tourism industry. In 2021, Men's Journal named Sun Peaks No. 2 in its list of the best ski resorts to visit in Canada. In 2023, Ski & Snowboard with Kids named the Sun Peaks Grand as the best “Snow Hotel” in Canada.

This the fifth in a multi-part series on what is new and different at the 12 downhill resorts and cross-country ski areas in the Southern Interior. Revelstoke Mountain Resort and Baldy Mountain Resort are in the lineup.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

J.P. Squire arrived in the Okanagan Valley from flatland Chatham, Ont. in the middle of the night in the spring of 1980. Waking up in the Highway 97 motel, he looked across the then-four-lane roadway at Mount Baldy and commented: "Oh my God, there's mountains." Driving into downtown Kelowna, he exclaimed: "Oh my God, there's a lake."

The rest is history. After less than a month in Kelowna, he concluded: "I'm going to live here for a long time." And he did.

Within weeks and months, he was hiking local hillsides, playing rec hockey at Memorial Arena and downhill skiing at Big White Ski Resort. After purchasing a hobby farm in the Glenmore Valley in 1986, he bought the first of many Tennessee Walking Horses. After meeting Constant Companion Carmen in 1999, he bought two touring kayaks and they began exploring Interior lakes and B.C.'s coast.

The outdoor recreation column began with downhill ski coverage every winter as the Ski Sheriff but soon progressed to a year-round column as the Hiking, Biking, Kayaking and Horseback Riding Sheriff.

His extensive list of contacts in Okanagan outdoor recreation clubs, organizations and groups means a constant flow of emails about upcoming events and activities which will be posted on Castanet every Sunday.

You can email the Sheriff at: [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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