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Banff in mid Feb/ advice please

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi all,

I haven't posted here for a very long time, however, we are travelling to meet up with friends in Banff next month. It'll be a general Canadian trip, so not all skiing as flying off from Calgary to Toronto for 6 days too.
The intention is to spend 5 days in Banff where our friends have rented an apartment fairly centrally, so we can all stay together.
We have 2 small kids ( aged 7 and 2), while our friends have no kids. The older one skis. We'll have a rental car there.
We're planning on hiring all equipment, but will take salopettes, jackets etc.
What would be recommended by yourselves in terms of enjoying the trip?
Easy to access decent childcare?
Ski passes/ equipment rental recommendations?
Thanks in advance.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Take warm thermals, not unusual for -30 or colder even in Feb. You might be lucky and be skiing above zero, the weather there changes really rapidly

If going to Sunshine at the weekend, get there very earlier otherwise you will be parked a long way from the lift station
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
I dont have children so dont know anything from that perspective but it is a lovely place to visit with children, very safe, very pretty and you will probably see animals about town which the children will love. You will have to travel by car or bus to the slopes each day so I would think you would be looking for kindergarten care for the little one at the lift bases of the various ski areas, do a search on Mount Norquay, Sunshine and Lake Louise, I am sure you will come up with some ideas which will meet your needs, Canada is very child friendly.
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We went to Banff at Easter last year, and found it very child friendly and easy. For the 7 year old the childcare options are ski school lessons at both Sunshine village and Lake Louise. Both were 2 hour morning and 2 hour afternoon, with the option of a supervised lunch at Lake Louise. Our 5yr old did the lessons at Lake Louise and loved it. Small groups, mostly 3 kids and an instructor. For the 2yr there is daycare at both Lake Louise and Sunshine. We used the one at Sunshine (Tiny Tigers - which does add on ski lessons for 3-6yr) and were very impressed. Full day 9-4ish I think, lunch included. Best to book in advance as they have specific adult:child ratios, especially for the young ones. There are childcare/nanny agencies etc in Banff if you want babysitting for the evening etc.

The 7 yr needs a child's lift pass. I would strongly recommend getting a tri-area pass and spending at least one day at Lake Louise. Its a very easy, beautiful drive, with a good chance of spotting wildlife, especially if you take the Bow Valley Parkway, the backroad. Its very easy to drive to the slopes, but the buses are also very easy and organised. They're proper coaches with ski racks underneath, not European style buses. Even if the car parks are busy you can drop family/kit off at the front then go and park.
The 2yr does need a pass to go on the lifts - the daycare at Sunshine is only accessibly by gondola - but its free. Its usually cheaper if you book your tri-area passes in advance through the Banff Ski Hub, they'll deliver them to your accommodation. For the 2yr you want a free 'Tiger' pass.

Loads of hire shops in Banff, cheaper than going to the rental at the slopes. Some shops have a tie-in with some accommodation offering discounts. We used Ultimate Ski, it was a bit cheaper than the Ski Hub.

One think that saved us money and hassle was discovering that we could take the car seat for free in addition to the childs luggage with Air Canada. It was a bit hidden away so check your airline. I really resent paying £50 or so to rent a car seat that probably costs £20 to buy in Halfords.

Loads of other non-skiing activities in Banff. It might be a bit cold but there's a good playground in town down by the bridge, in the park. Our son loved that there were Elk/Moose (I'm not sure the difference!) wandering through. Other great activities were snow tubing (at Norquay, included in a tri area pass, and at Lake Louise, extra) and the Hot springs. Loads of child friendly restaurants (including the dreaded McD's for when your child just won't eat anything else). The Old Spaghetti Factory was great when you needed a quick bite, cheap and very filling and very family orientated.

Let me know if there's any more info I can help with
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Aside from the threads below, I can add in that if you book lift passes through American Ski Classics, an adult pass comes free with a child pass, as I've understood - I couldn't get that offer from SkiHub/SkiBig3 in Banff unless I booked accommodation as well. For you to check prices but it seemed a good deal to me.

Webcams are showing bitterly cold at present (LL was -30C this morning) so I hope it warms for your 7 yr old!

My trip report from last April http://www.snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=125172&highlight=

TommyJ's trip report from similar http://www.snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=125584&highlight=

Some info here: http://www.snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=126348&highlight=

On the main drag, buy Beaver Tails snacks, yum yum... Hot Springs seconded.
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Thanks all of you for your replies.
Great info, especially the reports and the bits on childcare too. I think our friends will try and secure the lift passes, but will look into the area pass too. Be best seeing as its our first time there.
Yep, the low temperatures are somewhat intimidating, but a few layers will hopefully help.
Is there anything about Banff itself that we should know? I think we're in a self catering apartment.
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@Old Skool, no use to you for this trip, but if you decide to go againI got reduced Tri Area passes from Canadian Affair by buying them before a certain date (mid December I think).

If you're DIYing the flights are really god value from them, they're owned by Airtransat.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
If you have a car its worth shopping on the way at Canmore. Its outside the national park (cheaper) and has several supermarkets and beer/wine shops. Its an easy stop with kids if you need bathrooms/or snacks.
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Enjoy it! It was a few years ago, but I had an amazing time there. My one piece of advice is if you're headed to the Springs, check they're open: its a trek, even on the bus, only to find out they're closed for the afternoon #PersonalExperience =0)
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@Old Skool, have a look at the (now rather old but still good IMV) Secrets of Banff thread...

http://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=73089

Oh and if you're looking for a break away from skiing for a day, check out the Discover Banff Tours site.
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Just booked a week to Banff at a pretty good rate - need to get the North America ski out of my system!
Two of us going and we've taken advantage of the Big3 website offer of 20% of ski and stay if booked before end of Jan.

We're staying at Caribou Lodge - seems basic but close to the action in town.
@Richard_Sideways, I love that link and we've already decided that's exactly what we're going to do on day one.

Also worried about the cold in early March, having only ever skied in France and Italy, and mostly in March. Might actually need those thermal leggings that I always bring but rarely wear!

Has anyone ever done just a week? What's the best way to recover when you don't have the luxury of many non-skiing days?
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
"Recover"? What does that mean?? Smile

For one week, as in my TR, don't fight the jetlag. Get up at 5.30am, first bus, first lift, ski until you feel appropriate (check bus times), then back, snack, and bed by 7.30.

Do take and wear thermal leggings - if you're too hot you can always stop for a coffee and remove them in the bathroom. If you're too cold, you won't warm up. But early March should be better than Jan. LL webcam showing -7 at present.
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
@Orange200, apologies, recover from the jet lag is exactly what I meant and I like your idea apart from bed by 7.30 - may not have much choice with that one if we're falling asleep in our dinner anyway! We always prefer to be on lifts early and I found your trip report, especially the breakfast tips, very enlightening.

Not much snow forecast this week but pistes look great on webcams. Very excited! Our BA flights only cost us an extra £50 per person to fly from Belfast through Heathrow, which I feel is quite good for us who always need to connect.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Simply, the later you hold out for bed, the more you are pushing your body clock so the later you'll naturally wake up the next morning. It's a mind game, no-one over 8 wants to go to bed at 7.30, but if you think that it's already staying up until 2.30am on your home time, maybe that encourages you Smile

If you're taking lessons, at Louise, look into that First Tracks deal, it's an absolute steal.


Last edited by You know it makes sense. on Fri 27-01-17 12:11; edited 1 time in total
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
^this. If I was to sleep at 19:30 I'd be awake by midnight. The fastest way for me is to force myself to the new time zone quickly, and staying awake is not hard, just pick things to do which don't make you sleepy (so not TV or driving, for example). Synchronising for early starts is good, and note that Canuks eat early in the evenings so you're not going to have problems there.

For a week, I'd expect to be waking up at 02:00, 04:00, then 06:00 in daily sequence. I would obviously try to get back to sleep at those early times, but 06:00 is fine and for once I can feel morally superior to the non-morning people.

Coming back is usually harder, probably that's psychological though.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
It's worth noting that the Canadian forecast for Banff (the town) is a lot snowier than snow-forecast.

Also worth nothing that what locals complain is poor snow is very different to what Europeans in the Alps would call poor conditions....
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Are there any bars at the bottom of any of the 3 ski areas that would be particularly worth planning to hang around to get as much of the "après" vibe as possible Monday til Friday? Or is the town of Banff lively enough around 4pm?

I'll check up on First Tracks - hadn't really planned on booking lessons but might have another think about it.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Its not at the base per se but at Sunshine village the main apres ski spot is the Mad Trappers Bar, in the Village. We usually o there for a drink or two before skiing down. The last patrolled descent to the car park is (I think) 4:30 - but the gondola runs till 6 and later at weekends. There is a bar at the base station but I don't know how much of an apres vibe it has. Its pleasant enough but I've only been there earlier waiting for the bus

At Lake Louise the Kokannee Cabin by the base is a fairly lively bar, with a decent terrace and often live music on.

There never seems to be any shortage of somewhere fairly lively from 4pm onwards in town - although its not really Austria Europop dancing on the table in ski boots style!!
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Quick update - just back from a week in Banff and had a super time. The jet lag worked ok as meant we were on first buses and could ski pretty much all day. The four hour BA flight delay on the way home wasn't too nice though.
The weather was really cold, though I was well enough protected apart from at the extremities (nose, toes, fingers). Banff itself at night was really really chilly, especially the walk up Banff Av to our hotel from downtown.
We did the walk to the Waldhaus on day 1, visited the hot springs (didn't find them particularly great to be honest, and glad they were free on our pass).
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
How cold was really cold? Wondering about mid-March there next year, I thought March was OK in comparison to January's -25?
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@Orange200,

Mid March will be fine. It warms up a lot by then.
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It was -18 in the town before windchill factor, down to -30 with it. Unseasonably low apparently so could be a one-off.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@Acacia, we have been to Banff every year for the past 15, always in late Feb and early to Mid March. This year it was the coldest we have experienced, although the two weeks before we arrived were largely above freezing. All of the outdoor ice rinks around town were totally trashed in the warm weather which was a bit of a problem for the hockey league!

The first week (w/c 21st Feb) was really unseasonably cold- minus 25 in the morning but 'warming up' to minus 18 in the afternoon. Second week still cold for time of year but more of a manageable minus15.

In all of the weeks we have been in Banff we have only experienced this sort of thing once- it was minus 30- but warmed up after a few days.

March is great- longer days, usually quite Spring like in town. St Patrick's Day is great fun- green beer in all the bars. Have fun.
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@Rois1980,Glad you enjoyed it. Did you go to Norquay in the end?
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@lynnecha, thanks for the tips - we did go, but we picked the worst day as it was $2 lift ticket day for AB residents so it was incredibly busy (happens once a month). As the runs are relatively short, the lift queues were very long and pistes busier than we'd been used to. We finished early, had some beers in the lodge and went back into town and hit the shops.
Brilliant town, will be back in summer.
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snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
Yep. Sounds about right, but it's worth half a day just to see what it's like. We had some absolutely fantastic skiing- my knees certainly need a rest before we do any more skiing! Pleased you had a good time.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
We had two of our best ever skiing days at Lake Louise. Suited us perfectly and the cold was just an excuse to call in frequently to the Kokanee Kabin for a Baileys Hot Choc. snowHead
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