12 Jan

British Columbia a top winter sports destination for the over 55s

British Columbia was recently featured in ABTA Travel Trends 2018 report and our Travel Talk blog reveals how its Big White Masters’ Week is attracting the older market.

The attitude these days to hurtling down steep hills on snow and ice has changed significantly as increasing numbers of the over 55s are spending more time going on such exciting winter sports holidays.

ABTA’s research shows that almost 240,000 people between the age of 55 and 64 year olds reported taking a ski or snowboarding trip last year – double the number that said they took this type of holiday the previous winter season. Destinations such as British Columbia, is known for having some the best ski and snow conditions in the world, with the top facilities and has started to provide excellent experiences for this older market.

The Masters’ Week held in Big White Ski Resort, in Kelowna, British Columbia is a week-long event, held three times this year, especially designed for skiers and snowboarders aged 50+. Each programme offers skiing and snowboarding around the Big White resort with a series of exclusive après events suited for this age group including wine tastings, deals at local restaurants and evening sleigh rides. So we’ve been in contact with the organisers of Big White Masters’ Week why it has become so popular.

Ski and Board School Instructor, Ollie McEvoy tells us about the history of creating the programme.

Josh Foster, Ski and Board School Director at Big White Ski Resort, decided five years ago, to rekindle interest in a Ski Week for ageing baby boomers. His idea was to see if there would be interest in an inexpensive, fun week that would include ski instruction, good food and social activities.

In its inaugural season, there were 23 participants who enjoyed the programme, were excited about their new skills on the slopes and raved about the food. The camaraderie with their instructors and fellow ‘Masters’ really added to the enjoyment. 

Almost every individual from that first group signed up for the next season. The total enrolment for season two was 53 guests – over double that of year one!  In year three the growth continued with over 70 people signing up. Everyone wanted to hit the slopes with ski instructor Mark or one of their other favourite instructors and now many of the participants have become lifelong friends.

Last season Josh decided that due to the amazing interest in the programme, he’d set aside two separate weeks – both sold out! Over 100 people enrolled in each week, many of them extending their holiday so they could attend both sessions with their new found friends and instructors.

The Masters’ Week continues to grow this season with a third week. Despite several suggestions to add items to make the programme more expensive or exclusionary, Josh has continued to keep the programme affordable and fun. The entire week is still less expensive than buying five group lessons. The food will continue to be great, the host will be entertaining, the instructors will be amongst our best, the snow will be fantastic and a good time will be had by all!

So what’s stopping you from booking?

If ‘affordable and fun’ skiing in British Columbia doesn’t sound good enough, ABTA’s Travel Trends Report 2018 confirms that flights to British Columbia will not break the bank either as from the UK they are surprisingly cost-effective. Make sure that you take out the right travel insurance before you travel and report any medical conditions to your insurance provider so you are fully covered.

Read our Travel Trends report 2018 here for specific FCO travel advice and more reasons to visit British Columbia: abta.com/traveltrends2018