Welcome to Part III of my three-part series on working a ski season at Big White Ski Resort. When I moved from New Zealand to Canada in 2016 to do a ski season at Big White, I couldn’t find a comprehensive guide written by someone who had been to Biggie before. So here it is- my complete guide on how to work, live and play at Big White Ski Resort!
Make sure you read Part I ‘How to find a Job at Big White Ski Resort‘ and Part II ‘How to find Accommodation at Big White.‘
Moving to a massive ski resort is daunting. I remember my first week at Big White and I felt completely out of my comfort zone. I was in a new country, and the ski hill lifestyle was completely new to me. Luckily, my roommate had returned for her second season, and she showed me around.
Possibly one of the best things (aside from the snow) at Big White is the party scene. You have a couple of options for nightlife at Biggie:
“Sams” as it is more commonly known, is a casual restaurant by day and transforms into the main place to party at Biggie at night. It is my favourite pub on the mountain! Sunday Doubles (where doubles are the same price as a single shot) is the busiest night of the week, where everyone lets their hair down.
Sams also has jam night and cheap wings on Wednesdays, karaoke on Tuesdays and a live band every Friday and Saturday night.
Sessions Taphouse and Grill
Sessions is the other place to party at Biggie, and has more of a club vibe. They also make their own craft beer! Sessions also has cheap wings on Wednesdays and Sunday Doubles.
Blarney Stone Irish Tavern
The Blarney is a great place to have a casual drink after a day of skiing. On Monday night head along to trivia, on Tuesdays they have a cheap ribs special and a live Blues band, on Wednesday head to Whiskey Club, and on Friday nights they have a live band.
Cheap places to eat
Big White staff receive 10-50% off meals at Big White owned restaurants- for this reason it makes sense to stick to these places, however some are cheaper than others.
Moose Lounge at Happy Valley
Staff at Big White receive 50 per cent off meals at the Moose lounge, which makes eating out affordable. Thursday night is a great evening to have dinner and join in on Trivia Night.
Located next to the Moose Lounge at Happy Valley, The Carvery is cafeteria-style with lots of cheap choices. You can buy lunch here for around $8 including tax and tip.
>> Read more: The best ski runs at Big White Ski Resort
I’m not a coffee drinker, however I was asked this question a LOT while at work. Here are my recommendations based on the opinions of my friends.
I have heard plenty of people rave about the coffee at Bean Scene! It’s located under Snowshoe Sams in the village centre.
I’ve also heard great things about the coffee at Clocktower Coffee- located in the Village Center Mall. They have a delicious array of cafe-style food as well- make sure you try their cinnamon scrolls and cheese twists!
I survived one season at Big White without a sim card or phone contract by connecting to the free Telus Wi-fi network. You’ll find great service in the village centre, Black Forest lodge, Ridge lodge, Happy Valley and Gem Lake lodge.
>> Read more: Things to do at Big White Ski Resort other than ski
Where to buy groceries (and alcohol)
Big White has a small grocery store called The Market (located in the village) however it is rather pricey and most people tend to buy their groceries from Kelowna. The two popular grocery stores in Kelowna are Canadian Superstore and Walmart.
Canadian Superstore has the largest variety (it’s HUGE and is pretty overwhelming) while Walmart is smaller and slightly cheaper. Both Superstore an Walmart have department stores attached to them so you can buy anything from clothes to appliances.
Canadian Superstore also has a service called ‘Click and Collect’ where you can order and pay for your groceries online and have someone pick them up for you. This is helpful if you have trouble getting transport to Kelowna (see the next section for tips on getting to Kelowna).
There are two beer and wine stores at Biggie. One is located downstairs in the Village Center Mall and the other is next to The Market. The cheapest option is to buy your alcohol from BC Liquor in Kelowna.
Getting to Kelowna
Most people ride share to get to Kelowna. It costs between $15-$20 for a return trip, and most drivers are happy to take you to a few different places.
The best way to organise a ride is by posting in the Big White Ride Share Facebook group. You can also try posting in the Official Big White Facebook Group.
Getting around Big White
You will mostly get around Big White by walking or skiing (it is ski-in, ski-out after all!). There is also a free shuttle service on the mountain that runs from 7am-11pm (the last loop starting at 10.30pm). There are three times during the day when the shuttle doesn’t operate: 11:00am-11:30am, 2:00pm-3:00pm and 7:30pm-8:00pm.
Pick up and drop off locations include: Village Centre Mall, Snowshoe Sams, Tree Tops, Moguls, Trappers Crossing, Kettleview Road, Raven Ridge/Big White Road, Lower Snowpines, Upper Snowpines, and Happy Valley/Trailside, Sundance/Copper Kettle Lodge.
You can pick up a copy of the latest shuttle timetable from Central Mountain Check-in.
To get from the village centre to Happy Valley and vice versa, you can take Lara’s Gondola which is free.
There is a medical clinic at Big White, however it will cost you $100 just for an appointment. For this reason, it is far cheaper to see a doctor in Kelowna.
Ensure you bring plenty of throat lozenges, cough syrup and paracetamol with you to Big White. You WILL get sick (trust me). During my first season I was diagnosed with a cold, influenza, tonsillitis, AND a severe sinus infection that lasted 8 weeks.
Take vitamin D, C and a multivitamin to build your immunity and at the first sign of sickness flood your system with Zinc (the only vitamin that will work once you’ve contracted a bug).
I hope this article helped you become familiar with Big White! I adored my time at Biggie, and I am sure you will too. If you have any more questions leave me a comment and I’ll get back to you with my advice.
Tuesday 12th of March 2019
Thanks for the blog, very informative! I'm looking at working at Big White and was interested in the age range of people who work there?
Wednesday 13th of March 2019
Hi Keenun, it varies a lot! If you're 18 or younger I would recommend waiting until you're 19 to do a season (19 is the legal drinking age and you'll spend a lot of time socialising at the pubs!). There are people who have worked at Big White for years however, so expect all ages. The general age tends to be 20-30 however. Hope that helps!
Tuesday 19th of February 2019
hiya, great blog. thanks for this. what about the costs of ski rentals?
Thursday 17th of May 2018
I'm looking at doing my first season this year at Big White. I'm wondering what the wages were like? Did you manage to save money or just spent what you earned? I'm not fussed about saving as I know doing the season is for the experience.
Currently tossing up the idea of Big White and Lake Louise.
Saturday 19th of May 2018
Hi Donna! You are looking at earning minimum wage in BC and Alberta if you're working on a ski hill. If you can get a job with tips you can make decent money but I definitely recommend coming over with a lot of savings as you go through money pretty fast! Alberta has a higher minimum wage but I loved my season at Big White. Hope that helps!
Friday 9th of March 2018
Finished the whole series. Thank you for all the info! really usefull! I like your writing, so subscribed to your newsletter too! ?