The oldest ski resort in the Canadian Rockies, stately Sunshine Village is like a classic wine that's appreciated by those with sophisticated tastes. "Sunshine is one of the most spectacular places we have ever skied-and that includes numerous mountains in the European Alps," reports one well-traveled reader. "A European feel, yet close to home," says another. Located in one of the most stunning high-alpine sites in North America, and boasting some of the best snow north of Alta, the once-stodgy resort was derided for years for its poky lifts and less-than-demanding terrain. But slowly and painfully (due to the red tape involved in upgrading anything in Banff, Canada's most popular National Park), the folks at Sunshine have affected a major turnaround. While the recent addition of the double-diamond terrain on Goat's Eye Mountain is grand-"It's my favorite place to ski when I come to Canada," gushes one reader-it's Sunshine's new base gondola that's getting the raves. And why not? The completion of a $15 million state-of-the-art lift linking Sunshine's parking lot to the "village," 1,600 vertical feet higher, has eliminated one of the most annoying bottlenecks in the business. "We could ski Sunshine exclusively and never complain," says a reader. Given its northern location, it's not surprising that Sunshine is too cold for some readers. Or too remote. Others, however, love it just the way it is. "It's North America's best-kept skiing secret," says a fan. "It has it all: snow, value and friendly locals." -M.B.
WHAT'S NEW A new quad replaces the Wawa T-bar.
A GOOD DEAL Sleep and Ski package: Two days' skiing and two nights' lodging start at approximately $120 per night (877-542-2633).
MEDALS GOLD Challenge, Value, Scenery; SILVER Snow, Terrain, Dining.
HIGH/LOW RANK Scenery (4), Value (4), Snow (29); On-Mountain Food (47), Access (47), Family Programs (47).
DON'T MISS Staying at the Sunshine Village Inn, the only ski-in/ski-out accommodation in Banff National Park.
READER REMARKS (+) "Fabulous scenery. Friendly people." "Banff is the best mountain town I've ever been in." (-) "Unchallenging terrain; crummy lifts." "Can be very cold." "Felt like we were on the moon."