Sun Peaks holiday numbers set track for another record year

By Vanessa Ybarra
December 28, 2016 - 5:31pm Updated: December 28, 2016 - 7:20pm

KAMLOOPS — Prime powder has arrived at Sun Peaks.

And so have the people.

"Last year we had 360,000 skier visits, and all of the numbers are showing we're trending in that direction again," said Aidan Kelly, Chief Marketing Officer with Sun Peaks Resort. "We had a good 20-centimetre dump before Christmas and then the temperatures have warmed up a little bit so, skiing couldn't be any better."

"It's beautiful, nice and sunny, not too cold, it's good," said Adam Carter, currently on a Sun Peaks work placement from Perth, Australia.

"There's wide runs, it's beautiful, not crowded," said Terri-Anne Murray, visiting from Australia

Sun Peaks Resort offers over four-thousand acres of skiable terrain.

Which means the pull for West Coast powder bunnies isn't hard.

"British Columbia and our local market in Kamloops is definitely our largest market, and then our drive markets are from the lower mainland, Vancouver, and Seattle area," said Kelly.

"I've only ever skied on Mount Washington and on Vancouver Island and this doesn't even compare," said Kamloops resident Lori Birk.

West Coast numbers may remain strong this year, but staff say international visits have had the healthiest start to the season, with bookings up 50% thanks in part to resort marketing overseas.

"We visit and market in Australia, New Zealand, and the U.K. as well and then those folks come over here and visit during the ski season, so we host different familiarisation trips throughout the season," said Kelly.

On top of improved brand recognition, Kelly says the resort's ongoing focus in making the mountain more than a ski and snowboard destination has also played a positive role in global attention.

"They're going snowshoeing, dog sled touring, snowmobiling," said Kelly. " So there are all kinds of supplementary activities that are attracting people up to Sun Peaks, we're seeing that's an interesting trend."

And then there's location.

According to Kelly, it isn't just tourists making up the increase in skiers and snowboarders.

With the resort 45 minutes from the City of Kamloops, the resort says it has seen a large spike in people moving permanently.

So big, they're currently building a wellness centre to accommodate demand."

A lot more people have moved to the community," said Al Raine, Mayor of Sun Peaks Resort.

"Five years ago, the school had 16 students. Today, I think we're at 98 students, so a lot more people are moving to Sun Peaks."

With the resort's permanent resident population doubling to 600 since 2010, as well staff projecting this year's visits to surpass last year's record-breaking season, it appears the mountain is  calling louder than ever.

And mountain staff aren't complaining.

"We've got all 12 lifts open, 133 runs open, and tons of space to get out there, ski and enjoy yourself," said Kelly.  

Snowfall warnings hit highways surrounding Kamloops