Colour lends to Star power

LOUISE HUDSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:37 AM ET

All ski resorts are, by nature, beautiful, with the snowy white blanket smoothing out manmade imperfections and fir trees adding dark perspective.

But Silver Star near Vernon, B.C., goes one step further: The whole town is gorgeous with bright colours and pretty pastels adorning every building.

Influenced by San Francisco's colourful row houses, the Victorian-style architecture reminds one of Whoville from How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Porches and boardwalks, paned glass, cute window and door frames are all festooned in every shade of a kids' paintbox, making for a vivid contrast with the monochromatic black-and-white of the winter backdrop.

It's not just the town centre that creates a rainbow effect. All the residences, hotels and delightfully different family homes which speckle the ski slopes are multi-coloured to conform to an architectural blueprint designed in the early '80s.

Even the lift stations stand out from the white in their cheerful oranges and yellows.

And the skiing is as multi-faceted as the facilities at Silver Star, with 115 runs over 3,065 acres.

Averaging minus-3 in winter, the Okanagan resort is as temperate as European ski hills but with central B.C.'s dry, champagne powder.

After opening a little late this season, Silver Star went from early season conditions in mid December to the deep pow of winter with one 48-cm dump. It was wide open by Christmas, with stupendous, knee-deep snow on Gowabunga, one of the hill's toughest double diamonds.

Silver Star's backside is dappled in black and double-black glades and bowls, accessed by the Powder Gulch Express and Home Run Tee.

Silver Star's daily ski partner service means anyone can join free guided tours of the mountain twice daily.

Brett Barker is one of the 39-strong hosts who show skiers and snowboarders of every level the best runs. He recommends Paradise Camp as a mid-mountain stop-off for breakfast and lunch. For fine dining at high altitude, take a cat-ride up to the restaurant in the evenings.

So what type of skier would love Silver Star?

Well, I do, and I am an advanced skier with a penchant for powder and glades.

The hill also appeals to intermediates and families with young kids.

With terrain featuring 50% blue runs, there are well-spaced, gentle glades in the Silver Woods for intermediate skier progression. The area also boasts wide, undulating blues and greens.

All of the runs, right up to the 1915-m summit, are tree-bordered, providing natural guidelines during snowstorms.

The compact village centre has every facility a skier could need whether you enjoy downhill or nordic or are just there to take in the scenery.

You can book into one of the slopeside apartments and bring along everything to create the perfect holiday.

Staying on-hill doesn't get better than at Snowbird Lodge, which was voted best new slopeside accommodation by Ski Canada last year.

Part of Silver Star's attraction is its compact community of dedicated staff working in an environment they love.

Silver Star communications manager Tim Fitzgerald enjoys the 58 km of nordic trails which punctuate the alpine area and are linked to the separate Sovereign Lake Nordic Club, which offers another 40 km of competitive trails.

All the restaurants at Silver Star are individually owned and managed, with great chefs and different cuisine, including the Den.

Lift tickets at Silver Star are valid at sister resort Big White, allowing enthusiasts to combine skiing at both resorts or book a two-centre holiday.

Visit www.skisilverstar or call 1-800-663-4431 for $98 per person ski-and-stay packages, available until Feb 5.


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