Choosing the Best Ski Resort For a Ski Instructor Course

By Rik Dyson. 8 min read.  22nd Jun 2023.


Deciding on a venue for a ski holiday is one thing. Deciding on a venue for an instructor course is entirely different. We look at some of the 5 alternatives to Whistler for your instructor training.


What’s up with Whistler?

What alternatives are there?

Why are instructors turning to these lesser-known resorts?

Let’s understand why this grand resort is slowly losing its shine. It’s the best-known resort in BC, Canada, hands down. Yet more often than not, this resort is slowly becoming overshadowed by the downsides. We find out why going on a 2-week holiday to this venue is still a bucket list item, but to do your instructor training over 4-18 weeks? Trust us; there are better alternatives!

It’s no secret that when you mention skiing in Canada to anyone, the first words often ask, “Are you going to Whistler?” The problem this has created is sheep follow sheep, and the place has become a mecca for those wanting to taste the Canadian ski scene. With the American company Vail taking over ownership in 2016, there has been $ 345 million reportedly pumped into the resort to increase the infrastructure. 

The effect is Whistler is becoming a massive churning tourism machine year after year, whether you like it or not, bringing bigger crowds into the resorts as Vail looks to recoup its $1.4 billion purchase. Whether that is a good thing or not is up for personal speculation.

Big Crowds Mean Big Queues!

Instructors frequently commented that on some days, the crowds and queues could be far-reaching at the lower gondolas, and that can be off-putting even for the most enthusiastic skier amongst us.

Typically holidays like Christmas, New Year, Presidents Week, Spring Bank and, to a lesser extent, most weekends will often see extensive lines. This resort is the only one in North America with Facebook groups set up specifically designed to inform you of the current status of the waiting times. They even offer advice on how to avoid them and when to stay in bed!

Accommodation, Food & Finances

Unfortunately, with the influx of Vails investment, it has supercharged an already popular resort. Real Estate and rentals, along with the recent Provincial changes in rental covenants and companies such as Airbnb, offer house owners possibilities of lucrative earnings compared to ski staff renting for the season. 

It has become an incredibly challenging commodity, both to find something within your budget and to secure it. Getting a job at Whistler Ski School can often be the easy part. Getting a place to stay can be a whole other experience!

With big crowds, you can expect everything to have that same knock-on effect, from reserving a table, getting your gear serviced, or simply ordering a beer. So think about how this rigmarole affects your daily routine and patience.

Snow Conditions

Whistler gets significant snowfall figures, thats undesputable, but the quality can be questionable compared to other resorts to the east. The problem with Western Canadian resorts is that they are affected by that massive body of water just west of them, namely the Pacific Ocean, which can bring wetter and warmer-than-normal conditions to those neighbouring resorts. The movement of surface temperatures irregularly occurs in the form of the climate phenomenon El Nino and its slightly more predictable sister La Nina. El Nino year, which we are currently in at time of writing, can cause:

  • Milder temperatures-resulting in a thinner snowpack, a higher chance of precipitation and a shorter ski season.
  • *Reduced Snowfall-less snowfall means fewer powder days.
  • Variable surface conditions, Whistler has always suffered from dense wet snow, icy patches, or slushy areas, especially on the lower slopes. Still, the higher melting point will confine this snow quality to higher altitudes. 
  • Crowding; skiers will naturally head to higher ground to get quality snow, concentrating the populous.

*It’s worth noting that effects can vary from season to season. However, the above comments have been a noticeable trend from historical data and first-hand comments.

Whilst we have illuminated some of the main sticking points. We want to recognise that it will always have world-class skiing, stunning scenery and a vibrant ski culture. Go for a week or two and check it out. The purpose of this blog however,  is to open your eyes to the problems which can be virtually alleviated by going somewhere else with epic conditions, often with drier powder, smaller queues, improved living conditions more affordable and still enough nightlife to satisfy the party animal within you. 



Different Resorts For Instructor Training

Being a winter tourist on a 2-week holiday should be viewed VERY differently from being an instructor working in a resort or even a student training to become an instructor during an 11-week progression camp. 

Your goals in each instance are vastly different. It’s worth considering what you want from your season and, subsequently, what matters the most.

Let’s see what else is out there and decide what might suit your needs.


Panorama Mountain Resort

Why we love it:

  • The infamous Taynton Bowl. The huge Alpine Powder bowl off the backside of the mountain.
  • With 3000 beds in the resort, you also get 3000 acres of skiable terrain. You do the maths.
  • You can still find fresh powder lines days after it’s snowed.
  • Very short lift queues during holidays.LOADS of room to ski or ride in some epic conditions.
  • Plenty of room to concentrate on your technique rather than on who’s behind you.

Who it’s great for:

  • You will mix with the high-Level CSIA/CASI instructors in and around the resort, so if you want a mentor during your season, you’ve come to the right place.
  • For those wanting a more independent scene, its less commercial surroundings offer a friendly, lively atmosphere where everyone gets to know you.

Who won’t love it:

  • You might miss the European-style gondola runs for access to BIG mountain trails.
  • Event Junkies or those wanting lots of bars and restaurants.

Why it’s better than Whistler:

  • Cheaper living!- You won’t need to take out a loan! The beer and the food are all sensibly priced, the accommodation is affordable and easy to secure. 
  • Working as an instructor- You will get more opportunities to enter the local Race coaching club, All Mountain Programme and private lessons, thus giving you more advanced lessons to teach. So entry-level instructors don’t necessarily miss out and kowtow to the higher-level instructors.
  • Panorama has multi-million dollar snowmaking facilities, the best in British Colombia, caters for International Ski Racers that utilise this for training and ensures there is always snow at the beginning of the season.

View courses:

Level 1 & 2 Internships

8-Week Fast Track Level 1 & 2


night time scene of ski resort with slopes in the background

Sun Peaks

Why we love it:

  • It’s considered Whistler’s beautiful little sister.
  • You get the best of both worlds; it’s the 2nd most extensive resort in Canada, so it’s got a massive amount of terrain but few crowding issues and less commercial feel to it.

Who it’s great for:

  • Learning capabilities; It’s still a big ski school, but great potential for growing your qualifications in a more focused tribe-like setting. You are not just a number! 

Who won’t love it:

  • Those wanting a city or town nearby might struggle being cocooned in resort living. Prepare for a bit of cabin fever at times!

Why it’s better than Whistler:

  • Those who cannot afford Whistler’s expensive living costs or want a toned-down version will love this place.
  • It’s further from the moist Pacific coast’s warm weather patterns. It gets dry Champagne powder!

View courses:

11 Week Level 1 & 2

18 Week Levels 1,2,3 with Snow Academy

Level 3 Instructor & Progression Camp

Level 2 & 3 Ski Internships

Ski Patrol & Level 1/2 Ski Instructor Programme


Why we love it:

  • You know when you find out where all the cool kids are hanging out.
  • The town has an eclectic vibe and feels magical when it starts dumping snow—
  • It’s a vibrant Canadian working town with a melting pot of international food eateries.
  • Rogers Pass- The backcountry is truly legendary

Who it’s great for:

  • Powder hounds, Adrenaline junkies, and Backcountry enthusiasts.
  • Those wanting more vertical than anything else out there.
  • If you want to push your riding or skiing to the next level, this is the place to hang out! 

Who won’t love it:

  • If you prefer to avoid steeper terrain
  • If you like shorter transfers, Flight/coach combinations constitute a Pilgrimage.

Why it’s better than Whistler:

  • Sheep go to Whistler, G.O.A.T.’s go to Revelstoke. 

View courses:

11-13 week Level 1,2 & 3 Ski Instructor

3-4 Week Backcountry course

9 Week Ski Patrol Course

3 Week Level 3 Progression Camp


skier in pwder wearing blue jacket on steep slope

Hidden Valley

Why have we included this?

It’s a wild card, an incredibly rural, small venue. How small? Well, it’s a Hill. Not a mountain! Let that sink in for a bit. But we decided to include it as we have seen some incredible instructors born from this place. There are only 65 acres of terrain. 1 x lift, 12 x runs, and the longest is only 2km long. So why have we included it? Simple. It’s unique in Canada. It’s the only government-owned resort in Canada, and the pros are reasonable, considering the cons.  

Why we love it:

  • It covers an alternative demographic.
  • It’s the feeder and breeder for the BIG MOUNTAIN venues.
  • For some, large mountains aren’t very comforting. Some want to start with an intimate venue, smaller groups, and gain hands-on training in different departments, which this venue supplies everything.
  • It’s a real Hidden Valley!

Who it’s great for:

  • The wages are exceptional.
  • The training benefits set you up for prominent resort positions the following year.
  • If you can barely afford an Internship or are training to become an instructor on a budget, this venue will be the only place to achieve your dreams. 

Who won’t love it:

  • Those wanting a big mountain venue with nightlife and many people to party with.
  • Those wanting a town or resort with plenty of life and distractions.

Why it’s better than Whistler:

  • It’s unfair to say it’s better or worse, but it is very different and offers a unique experience to anyone keen on making the most of it.
  • A vast change to your everyday life, there is only one way to find out!

View courses:

Dual Internship

Want to Learn More About These Resorts.

Click on the drop downs below and find out more about these stunning locations.

“Now let’s talk about snowboard/ski training. The instructors here are not only exceptional snowboarder/skiers but also great trainers. We are guided by Level 3/Level 4 instructors. Besides their professionalism, they are also passionate, which helps us stay focused during training. My snowboarding skills improved beyond what I could have imagined when I first started”

Keng Hui Wu

June 2023


Why we love it:

We had to include one European resort in case you just don’t want Canada. In fact we could include an array of European venues, but Verbier has some exceptional qualities, and although a little more expensive, 

  • Has over 400km of slopes. Vast terrain for beginners to advanced candidates.
  • Plenty of off-piste and freeride areas.
  • High-altitude venue ensures excellent snow conditions throughout the season, which is rare for the increasingly warmer European winters.
  • Some real top-notch professional teaching establishments.

Who it’s great for:

  • For those wanting some security of getting all the elements in the bag. It’s genuinely a great European all-rounder!
  • Verbier has a buzzing scene, good Apres, great terrain, festivals, challenging runs, a cosmopolitan atmosphere, and is safe and easy to get to.
  • It’s our European answer to Whistler. What else do you need?

Who won’t love it:

  • On a budget? Forget it, but then in which case you would also want to avoid considering Whistler.

Why it’s better than Whistler:

  • We love the European way of nightlife; the apres is tastefully done.
  • The altitude helps to keep the conditions in their prime despite the warmer temperatures.
  • The slopes are a little quieter.
  • There are a lot of work possibilities here.
  • It’s a hell of a lot closer than Whistler.
  • It’s not exceptional at anything but good at everything; as we said, Verbier is our good all-rounder!

View courses:

BASI 10-week Level 1 & 2 Ski Instructor

BASI 10-Week Level 1 & 2 Snowboard Instructor


Find out all of the most frequently asked questions