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Panorama

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Resort: Panorama

Country: Canada

Domain:

Author: DavidS

Dates: February 2004

Website: http://www.panoramaresort.com/index.html

Basics: About 200 miles from Calgary (4 hour transfer) in the British Columbia Rockies. Operated by Intrawest (who also operate Whistler/Blackcomb and another nine resorts). Travel from the UK is monopolised by Inghams http://www3.inghams.co.uk/ski/CAN/PAN/index.html.

Lift system: Only six lifts - 2 baby ones, three high speed quads, and a somewhat slower triple chair. Two of the quads are brand new and have dramatically cut the time needed to get up the mountain. There are some queues at the base station lift (Mile 1) when it's busy, but lifts are loaded with typical North American efficiency and anyone prepared to use the singles queue will be on a chair in no time at all.

The terrain: There's a lot of skiing. For beginners and early intermediates, a nursery slope and some wide/long groomers. Upper intermediates, however, need to learn to ski bumps and through the trees - as most of the more challenging terrain is unpisted and tree skiing is the norm the higher up the moutain you go (some runs are gently gladed - others just plunge straight through the forest). Even the most confident/competent skiers will be stretched by the more extreme skiing - especially in the Tayton Bowl which was, until recently, only open to heli-skiers. A terrain park, too.

The snow: Snow may be Panorama's Achilles heal. Conditions this year are reported to be better than in previous years - but the resort has currently gone almost a month without significant fresh snow. On Tuesday, the upper slopes were really really icy and bump slopes across the mountain had plenty of rocks, bare patches, hunks of vegetation to dodge. It wasn't so bad - but I don't think most people would want to be there if conditions got worse. Two further worrying factors: (1) One of the resort staff told us that Panorama was known as the doughnut for its ability to stay clear while snow fell on mountains all around. (2) The website snow report (http://panoramaresort.com/report.asp) is over-optimistic about conditions - reporting powder in Taynton Bowl, a good fortnight after all fresh snow has been thoroughly skied out (the Ski Club Snow Report is less benevolent - but still kinder to the conditions than they deserve).

Off-piste: After a snowfall, the in-boundary off-piste must be pretty awesome and there's a lot of it to be skied. NB most of the steeper terrain is not avalanche-cleared. Otherwise, it's heli-skiing with RK Heli-Ski, who operate from the village and serve mostly day skiiers. They have rights to an absolutely vast area (which the provincial government is thinking of building a new resort on) and appear able to more or less guarantee fresh powder on any day the helicopter can take off. You'll be high up and on the glaciers when it's fine, lower down in the trees when it's not. True to the doughnut theory, it's often snowing in their area when it's fine in Panorama. RK offer 3 and 5 run packages and will take intermediates with no off-piste experience on the 3 runs. Warning: highly addictive.

The resort: Panorama is a pretty boring place. Intrawest doesn't operate all the businesses on the mountain - but seems to exert some control over most of them. There's one understocked ski shop (very few helmets left, for example), a ski hire place that serves excellent coffee, a really really awful general store, a few bars, a handful of restaurants (see below) and a club. Service is always friendly, but usually incompetent - and with teenagers being paid 8 dollars (less than £3.50) an hour, what do you expect? Remember to tip everyone - ski instructors, waiters, bar staff, room cleaners, the guy who drives the bus transfer etc.

The food: The food is pretty mediocre, with the few restaurants sharing a supplier and thus offering weirdly over-lapping menus. Those staying in condos will find that the only shop has little to offer in the way of fresh food - with most Canadians bringing produce with them. The evening bus to the nearest town, Invermere (30 mins), gives you just enough time to get a good meal - though Intrawest tries to force you to go to six restaurants that have paid 600 hundred dollars for monopoly status. Lie about where you're going and you can head for the excellent Portabella instead. The best food on the mountain is at the very top - a Chinese Take-Away serving the only healthy food you'll see all holiday.

Accommodation: Condos are nice. We stayed in the budget Pine Inn which is a little shabby, but is excellently located and has good sized rooms.

Costs: Food and drink is cheap. Head to Inghams for package prices. A 6 day lift pass costs about £120. Heli-skiing costs a little more than £300 for 5 runs, a little less than £300 for 3 runs.

Conclusion: Lots of great skiing - especially if you're prepared to ski bumps. Some exceptionally tough marked runs. A big question mark over the snow record. Dull resort - suffocated by the corporate dead hand. Heli-skiing a blast. If you're going for some time, consider excursions to Kicking Horse, Lake Louise etc (about 2 hours away with buses provided).

BTW - read about the Improve Your Skiing course I was on here: http://snowheads.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?t=462


Last edited by Poster: A snowHead on Sun 29-02-04 14:30; edited 2 times in total
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
An exemplary report David Very Happy
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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?
Seconded. Interesting about Intrawest, wonder what their 'corporate policy' is in Les Arcs now they've made such a large investment there. Well I say a large investment but they sell large chunks of the villages up front before they're built so they can't be taking too much of a risk...
I definitely detect negative vibes about them in your report! I've got to contact the Canadian top brass in the near future (a Les Arcs ski club thing)... wonder what sort of response I'll get....
Sorry, I digress. The whole place definitely sounds a bit 'production line' - is that standard N. American style I wonder (yet to ski there), or the Intrawest effect?
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You need to Login to know who's really who.
PG wrote:
Interesting about Intrawest... I definitely detect negative vibes about them in your report!


Here's my take in Intrawest (extrapolated from one data point!):

I bet they were really state-of-the-art about 10 years ago - good value and service, an innovative approach etc. - and were much praised by their customers, press etc.

But then they began to believe their own publicity ("they're right! we are great!") at the same time as their act began to get a little tired (charming service is great, but people notice they've now waiting an hour for their starter; a 5 dollar bus into town is very welcome, but we want to go the restaurant we choose, not the ones they've selected; the online snow report is fab, but why are they always dickering with the statistics?).

The real estate thing is interesting. They face a classic corporate distraction - I hear they make a lot of their profit from real estate, but of course what people care about (and what makes the condos sell) are all the low-margin services....
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
For anyone who fancies a cheap deal to Panorama the Inghams Calgary square deals if they still do them ? are always to Panorama - you pay extra to secure Lake Louise, fernie, banff etc - £299 for a week !

This came from the fab inghams reps in Fernie last year when I asked where do you end up if you just pay 299 !!!
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You'll need to Register first of course.
299 would certainly be a bargain for a week in Panorama! Especially in the fortnight after a decent snowfall. Maybe there'd be money left over for a day's heli-skiing too...
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Whilst staying in Banff I took a day out to Panorama to ski Taynton Bowl. Drove all the way only to find that one of the chairlifts were out of action which prevented anyone getting to the top of the resort, it was the only way up. GUTTED!
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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!
Went to Panorama in Feb 2003 and had a weeks great skiing.

Some of the runs are really fun and the ability to run straight from top to bottom provides some exhilarating skiing.

Champagne Surf through the trees is fairly exciting, especially with no true piste, and a foot or so of powder.

We went with Ski Uniques catered apartment service (they now do Fernie & Banff as well) - ie you come back from skiing and everything is there ready and waiting for you to pop in the oven etc along with a restocked fridge - and boy do they look after you - even down to organising wine and beer - we never had to get anything ourselves. Their service is superb.

We stayed at the Panorama Springs Apartments, which were of a very high quality.

With regard to the Intrawest thing I think because we were in a catered apartment we didn't really have a problem at all. The only "intrawest" venue we frequented was the pub at the bottom of the slopes which was always seemed good fun.
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
Sorry forgot to mention - I agree about the snow - your timing does need to be right, although I believe they have greatly extended their snowmaking capacity this year?
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Ski the Net with snowHeads
I first visited Panorama about 5 years ago, just after Intrawest had bought in. The base area was pretty much a building site. When I was there, last year, there was still a lot of building going on, but also some quite nice chalets round the outskirts.

The principal drawback is its isolation. Panorama isn't near anywhere very convenient (though if you live in Calgary, it's probably a good place to have a second home). Also, as David points out, the snow can be pretty iffy. Last spring there were a lot of bare patches lower down, and thin ice on the higher trails. Scober's Dream, which can be a great top-to-bottom cruiser was closed, due to poor coverage.

This year they've installed two new quad lifts, which should make getting to the top a lot easier (previously, this required two chairs followed by a couple of drag lifts), and since the chief attraction of Panorama is its vertical (about 4,000 feet) this is a really worthwhile investment by management.

If anyone's planning to go in the next couple of weeks, check THIS out:

http://www.panoramaresort.com/winter/P%20to%20V%20Registration%02004.pdf

- The "Peak to the Valley" race is just what it says. A team GS race over the whole mountain (and it ain't a relay race: each skier skies the whole 4K). The good thing about this is that it's run over two days at a weekend: a Friday and a Saturday, but only in the morning (at least, that's what they did last year) so on the Friday afternoon, the course is available for everyone else to try out. (They leave the gates up, and they're on the most popular trails, staight down the centre of the hill).

If you get the chance, give it a go: it's a real blast (but remember that a 4K GS is the mother of all thighburners!)
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