Bryan Dearsley takes a look at the top private Blue Mountains ski clubs and discovers there’s so much more than just great winter sports fun to be had
There’s a lot to be said for a private ski club, and those interested in a membership couldn't do much better than take a look at The Blue Mountains area of Georgian Bay Ontario.
Less than a two-hour drive from Toronto, Canada’s largest city, The Blue Mountains’ has been attracting skiers since its first public slopes opened in 1949. It didn't take long for some of the most dedicated of these early skiers to see the many benefits of getting together and going private, from smaller ski lift lines, a vibrant social scene, and a clubhouse to hang out après ski.
For many Ontario private ski club members, the social component is in fact often as important as the skiing itself. Little wonder, really, when you consider the fun to be had off slope. From private dining to cocktail hours, family days, dancing and year-round outdoor cook-outs, most clubs offer an endless list of fun things to do for young and old alike. Add to this list a bevy of other great activities, including swimming and tennis, boating, golf and state-of-the-art gyms, and there are plenty of great reasons to pursue a membership.
As for the skiing, private clubs have developed some of the top coaching programs in Canada, offering plenty of competitive skiing opportunities that have borne some of the country’s most successful national team members.
To help you find the best private Blue Mountains ski club for your family, here’s LuxuryCollingwood’s pick of the top clubs in the Collingwood / The Blue Mountains area.
The Georgian Peaks Club
Located close to Thornbury, The Georgian Peaks Club is, thanks to its impressive 820 vertical feet, one of Ontario’s toughest hills. Established in 1958, set on 90 acres and boasting 24 diamond and double-diamond trails, there’s something here for all skill levels, from dedicated competitors (it’s the only private club in the province sanctioned by the International Ski Federation to host Giant Slalom races), to those preferring a more casual experience.
Why you should join:
- Well-groomed trails, including a half-pipe and freestyle park
- 24 runs and four chairlifts
- State of the art snowmaking equipment
- 820 vertical feet, the longest and highest in Ontario
- World-class Alpine Programs responsible for garnering more top 10 finishes than any other club (they’ve also placed more athletes on Canada’s National Teams)
- Intermediate and beginner slopes suitable for all ages and abilities
- Ski and snowboard instruction
- Snowshoeing, hiking and cross-country skiing (including access to Loree Forest trails)
- Three licensed lodges, three lounges, three cafeterias, and a sandwich / salad deli
- Personal storage lockers
- Full nursery facilities
- Relaxed, welcoming, family-friendly social scene
- Fun-packed social calendar with numerous family-friendly events
To learn more, visit their website at www.georgianpeaks.com.
Toronto Ski Club
Founded in 1924 and Ontario’s oldest private ski club, the Toronto Ski Club is as popular for its world-class racing and instructional programs as it is for its rich and vibrant social scene. Situated adjacent the famous Blue Mountain Resort, the club has a large number of Canadian and international champions among its alumni.
That the club is family-friendly is very much in evidence, boasting as it does multiple generations of families enjoying its slopes and facilities. To find out for yourself, check out the club’s one-year trial memberships.
Why you should join:
- 36 runs with four high-speed chairs
- Superb Alpine programs
- The region’s longest ski season, opening more days than other clubs
- Private clubhouse
- Family focused with plenty of fun social activities suitable for all ages
- Adult après-ski activities include happy hour at the always popular T-Bar
- Live entertainment
- Year-round activities for kids, including dances and camps
- Wedding venue and corporate event rentals
To learn more, visit their website at www.torontoskiclub.on.ca.
Alpine Ski Club
Established in 1960 with the purchase of the first 50 of its current 380 acres – 120 of which is skiable – Alpine Ski Club now has 950 families sharing 35 runs. A high-speed six-person lift, three quad chairs and a magic carpet handled an impressive 9,000 skiers and boarders per hour. Ski and snowboard programs are available, as well as a teaching program with over 200 certified instructors, including Level 3 CASI and CSCF instructors, and Level 4 CSIA instructors. Club alumni include Olympians Palmer Taylor and Brad King, along with former national Alpine Ski team member Dr Heather Munroe.
Other features include a super-pipe, a top-to-bottom novice-friendly park, and advanced terrain featuring five of the steepest groomed pitches in Ontario. Alpine has invested heavily in snowmaking equipment capable of covering 100% of its skiable terrain, ensuring corduroy conditions. Two well-marked snowshoe trails crisscross the property and join up with regional trails, and an on-site pro shop provides rental and sales services. A childcare centre, locker facilities, a cafeteria and banquet services for groups of up to 500 is available for members, and the licensed Main Chalet offers panoramic views. At the top of the slopes, members can take a break in the Summit Chalet or the North Warming Hut.
Visit their website at https://alpineskiclub.com.
Craigleith Ski Club
Established in 1958, Craigleith Ski Club today boasts over 3,000 members sharing 32 trails and six lifts, including a carpet lift and a high-speed quad chair. Spread over a 470-acre swath of the Niagara Escarpment overlooking Craigleith, the club places an emphasis on family-focused fun and social programs. The club boasts a high capacity, state-of-the-art snowmaking system, along with three separate clubhouses offering full meal services.
Ski and racing programs include snowboarding programs, two terrain parks and a half pipe. A Summer Club offers members the use of tennis facilities, and a swimming pool is planned. A real estate component is underway with the addition of The Orchard at Craigleith, an enclave of luxurious detached and semi-detached homes at the base of the hill.
Learn more from their website at www.craigleith.com.
Osler Bluff Ski Club
Back in 1949, the founders of Osler Bluff sat up and listened when local farmers told them the snow fell deepest on the slopes above the Poplar Sideroad on the Niagara Escarpment. Those early members did well to listen – not only does Osler get more snow due to its elevation and distance from the bay (it’s 200 feet higher than Blue Mountain and is 10 kms from Georgian Bay), it tends to lasts longer.
In addition to its 23 runs (served by four chairlifts), Osler also has 10 kms of snowshoeing trails spread over its 250 acres. Snowboarders amongst the club’s 1,300 members are especially spoiled with an eight-acre terrain park complete with 450 ft long full-size competition half-pipe. Osler’s 743 ft drop, as well as some of the region’s longest, most scenic trails, have played host to some of Canada’s best winter athletes, including six-time World Cup champion Laurie Graham and downhiller Luke Sauder.
Three lodges provide members with food services, restrooms, lockers, and a lounge area for kids to watch movies while parents enjoy an après ski social (a separate playroom/nursery is also available). Summer fun can be had through the Osler Bath and Racquet Club, with facilities including a swimming pool, tennis courts and change house.
Visit their website at www.oslerbluff.com for further details.