We just got back from 4 days at SilverStar, and we had a great time. There were four people in the group, one couple, and two singles. I'll divide the review up into several parts covering as many of the important points as possible:
The front side of the mountain has mostly blue and green runs, with a few black diamonds off of an old double chair. The black runs looked pretty short, and we only took one of them. The blue runs did not seem steep enough when covered with a lot of fresh snow, but once they were groomed, several of them provided a nice challenge. The FIS run, all of the "dippers", and the run directly under the Comet chair were all reasonably challenging. Many of the blue runs on the front side were just not very steep though, especially runs like Whiskey Jack.
The back side of the mountain is a whole different story. There are tons of very steep and challenging runs here. These were some of the most challenging runs I've taken in several years. The double-blacks were steep, and bumpy. The single blacks were plenty challenging, and very bumpy as well. There are two fabulous blue runs on the back side: Sunny Ridge and Gypsy Queen. These are both very long, and pretty steep blue runs that will really work your legs.
The biggest problem with SilverStar is the fact that 90% of the terrain is only served by two main chair lifts: Comet 6-pack express on the front side, and Powder Gulch Quad on the back side. This means that lines can pile up from time to time. During our 3 days of skiing (Fri-Sun), the lines were only bad a few times, usually early in the morning. By lunch time, the lines were usually non-existent.
The snow was excellent our first day there. We got almost 11" of new powder the first day. The snow was very light the night before, but a fog had settled in early in the morning and weighed down the snow a bit. The visibility was quite bad early in the day as the clouds just hovered over the runs.
Another problem was the elevation on the back side. The bottom of the hill is quite a bit lower than the front side, and as such, the snow got pretty wet down there, and eventually got quite crusty and hard as the temperatures dropped.
The grooming was pretty decent, although they never groomed the black diamond runs while we were there.
We stayed at the Putnam Station hotel in the village. The location is excellent. The village is quite small, and it's very easy to walk from any hotel to any restaurant, or from any hotel to the slopes.
The Putnam is a decent hotel, although I would really only call it a 2-Star or maybe 2 1/2-star hotel by US standards. Our room had a queen bed and a bunk bed, the other room had two queens. The bathrooms, furniture, etc was all pretty basic, but nice enough for a few days. The front desk staff was quite friendly and helpful. The hot tub was broken for one day, but they fixed it right away. Once it was working it was nice.
Over a four day period, we ate at almost all of the restaurants. The Putnam has a wine bar which was quite nice, but on the expensive side. Their cocktails were quite reasonable though, around $6 CAD each. The food was good, but it is served Tapas style, which means small plates. Again, the quality was good, but the cost added up quickly if you were hungry.
The Putnam also has a regular restaurant which is open for all meals. We ate breakfast there one day and it was good. We ate lunch there one day and it was good as well. The food is a little greasy here, but not too expensive.
We had dinner one night at Clementine's, which was probably the fanciest restaurant in the village. The food was excellent and the atmosphere was on the romantic side, with a live pianist.
We had breakfast at Francuccino's bakery, which also makes the breads for the Bugaboo bakery. The pastries were tasty, the server a bit testy. The service was slow, so I would suggest getting your pastries to go.
Lunch at Long John's pub was excellent. This is a nice pub atmosphere with a couple of TVs showing sports and a fireplace to warm up by. This is a pretty typical apres-ski bar and it was a welcome sight on the mountain, with good food and good drinks for a not-too-unreasonable price.
Other food options include a cafeteria that we didn't try, and the "market", which was tiny, but had HUGE cinammon buns. If you need groceries, pick them up in Vernon on your way up the hill. This market had very little to offer.
The tubing hill was awesome! It has several runs of various bumpiness and steepness, and the "lift" system will save a lot of effort for climbing up the hill. An added bonus is the fact that it is open until 9pm, which means you can go after a day of skiing (like we did)
There is also an outdoor ice skating rink were you can skate and even rent hockey gear. This looked like fun, but we ran out of time to do it.
Overall, we had a great time. There is enough terrain to keep you busy for a few days, but if you are going to be here for a full week, you will probably want to rent a car or take the bus to Big White, because I know I would get tired of the terrain.
The only downer on our trip was the shuttle bus ride back to the airport. The shuttle service told us to be ready by 2:50pm, but didn't end up pick us up until 4:10pm. The shuttle driver came by, but dropped some people off and wouldn't let us on the bus. He told us to just wait out there in the snow for "10 minutes". Well an hour later, he shows up, and since we're standing inside waiting for him, he TAKES OFF WITHOUT US! I had to call the bus company to get the guy to come back and pick us up!
The shuttle bus leaving the airport also made you wait for quite some time. I understand that they wanted to wait for as many flights as possible, but if you are in a hurry to get to the mountain, rent a car, it will be faster. Once you're in the village, you won't really need the car, only if you want to head down to Vernon or Kelowna.
We had a great time, and I would definitely go back if I had the opportunity. Especially if they offer the same early season discount we got: $69 CAD per person per day including hotel and lift ticket!
I hope this review helps!
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Level of Experience Needed: All
Best Time to Visit: January
Best Suited For: Families