Nestled above the Okanagan Valley, in beautiful British Columbia, Canada, SilverStar Mountain Resort (sometimes spelt Silver Star) has small town charm and is a welcoming place for international seasonal workers. Located 55 minutes north of the Kelowna International Airport, Silver Star is a mid-mountain ski village that overlooks the city of Vernon. Silver Star is located 50 minutes from the city of Kelowna, and 22 minutes from the large outlying town of Vernon.
Winter season is usually late November to early April. Summer season, during which the Mountain Bike Park opens, is usually late June to early September. winter.skisilverstar.com
Town Layout and Feel
Silver Star is a small village with a corresponding small nightlife and small-town feel. There is a family friendly atmosphere and the staff all know each other. Employees come from around the world and the resort really tries to create a welcoming environment for both guests and employees, providing you with a real sense of belonging, probably more so than other smaller resorts. This is partly due to the fact that the resort is a bit isolated so there is an extra effort to make you feel welcome.
There’s a great vibe to working at Silver Star, you really feel like you’re one of the locals from the beginning of the season. Locals welcome in the influx of international seasonal workers each year and people in the shops will likely remember your face, given how small the town is. In addition to Canadians working at the resort, there are generally a lot of Australians and a few Chileans, New Zealanders and Europeans.
The Terrain at Silver Star
The terrain is decent, but certainly not the craziest in Canada. There is plenty of intermediate terrain but you will have likely tracked out most of the mountain by the season’s end. Also, as virtually all the terrain is below the tree-line, there is not much in the way of alpine bowl skiing. There is, on the other hand, some nice tree-skiing, particularly down at Powder Gulch.
For expert riders, Powder Gulch is really the only place to be. This is the only place with anything approaching double-diamond runs, but it really isn’t that challenging compared to the big mountain riding at other BC resorts. Expert seasonal workers will usually take weekend trips to other mountains such as Revelstoke for more challenging terrain.
Unfortunately, Silver Star is a bit isolated meaning that day-trips to other mountains are not really possible unless you get up very early and have access to a car.
Alder Point is the steepest run on the mountain. Deer Park is a tree run off the top of Home Run Tee which is quite good and usually has good powder. After February the town goes a bit quieter and into spring some of the best skiing is on offer due to the decreased volume of people on the hill.
- Elevation: Top 1,915 m (6,280 ft) : Bottom 1,155 m (3,780 ft)
- Village Elevation Village : 1,609 m (5,280 ft)
- Vertical Drop : 760 m (2,500 ft)
- Annual Snowfall : 700 cm / 23 ft
- Average Temperature : Average winter daytime temperature -5 °C (23 F)
- Skiable Area : 3,065 Acres (1,240 hectares)
- Total Uphill Capacity : 14,000 people per hour
- Trails : 115 marked trails totaling 93km (58 miles)
- Terrain Type : 15% Easiest : 40% More Difficult : 35% Most Difficult : 10% Extreme
- Longest Run : Eldorado 8 km (5 miles)
The Okanagan Valley has great snow conditions with over seven meters of snowfall each winter. This is about average for British Columbia resorts. There are usually too many blue bird days to count each season as the sun is often shining.
The Rockstar Terrain Park has beginner, intermediate and advanced lanes with rails and jumps. There is also a course that can be tuned for regional, national, and World Cup events. Again, the terrain park is nothing crazy, and mostly caters to the many intermediate riders and families who visit Silver Star.
Getting a Job
Jobs for winter and summer, seasonal and year-round positions, can be found at: https://www.skisilverstar.com/careers/
Jobs pop up even throughout the season, so have a look even if the season has started as there may be job openings. Silver Star does a variety of interviews – phone, face to face, Skype and in person overseas. Recruiters travel around the world and Silver Star attempts to meet people where possible. However, given that face-to-face is not always achievable, as such, many phone interviews are conducted.
To give you a sense of what it is like to work at Silver Star, check out this Youtube video. It features lift & tube town ops, repair & rental techs, Snowsports School, housekeeping, and a glimpse into staff accommodation.
Silver Star has a few mountain operated hotels which look for employees each season. Hiring for these hotels is done through Silver Star’s Human Resources as with other jobs on the mountain:
- Firelight Hotel – Firelight Hotel
- Snowbird Hotel – Snowbird Silver Star
- The Bulldog Hotel – The Bulldog Hotel
These jobs are less sought after as you generally don’t get ride breaks throughout the day which means less time on the hill over the course of the season.
Silver Star is a participating resort in the OWH (Overseas Working Holidays) program, which is run by a private company. Australians, New Zealanders and British are eligible to participate in the OWH program to get a job with SilverStar Overseas Working Holiday.
Not all international applicants must come from the OWH program or need a work visa at the time of their job application – these things do help, however, and should be considered before applying. However, Silver Star won’t sponsor you for a visa, so you will need to arrange your own working holiday visa.
For further information on getting a visa to work in Canada, see Work a Winter Season in Canada.
Instructors are expected to come with a valid instructing certificate – however, there is ongoing coaching and training through the season within the Snowsports School. This training is voluntary and is provided to help instructors improve their teaching techniques, guest management and ski/board technique.
While Silver Star hosts a variety of CASI, CANSI and CSIA courses each year, instructors are responsible for paying for these courses themselves.
There are a number of perks including:
- Free Season Pass – Alpine Skiing & Snowboarding, Cross Country Skiing, Snow Tubing, Ice Skating, Snowshoeing are all included in your season pass. Coming for summer? Your season pass will include the bike chair & scenic chair lift access.
- Free Snowsport School Lessons – Private lessons were also offered at 50% off.
- Restaurant & Retails Discounts
- Rental Discounts – If you want to try something new but don’t want to buy a full kit, staff rentals are a cheap way to try some of the interesting winter activities at Silver Star.
- Ski Trips to other Resorts – The resort organizes multiple staff trips to resorts like Revelstoke, Big White, Apex and others to let you play on different terrain and see new places. The cost? Lift tickets were free of charge, and there was just a small contribution to pay for the bus.
- The resort will teach you how to play hockey (or even just how to skate) at free clinics so you can be ready to play in our outdoor ice-hockey league. Need an indoor option? Silver Star has the first ski-in/ski-out 10-pin bowling alley.
- Drinks nights, special dinners and breakfasts served to you by the management team.
Getting a Place to Stay
There are several lodging options for staff at Silver Star. Private rentals in Vernon and on the mountain are a great option especially when sharing the cost with friends. Staff accommodation is also available on the mountain and is a great way to meet people, but keep in mind it is shared accommodation and space can be limited.
- Private Rentals in Vernon – Vernon is a town of 40,000 at the top of the Okanagan Valley. Vernon offers some very cost effective options but keep in mind you’ll need a car (it can be difficult without), or have to rely on the staff bus for transportation to and from work. The staff bus gets you up before all the work on the hill starts, apart from the information desk, which starts at 5am. This bus leaves at 6am. Vernon is quieter than living in Silver Star – more of the staff nightlife revolves around Silver Star. People coming for winter should start their search early. Rental information can be found in various online and print sources such as www.kijiji.ca, the Vernon Morning Star newspaper and OwnerDirect.com.
- There is a hostel in Vernon, so some people live there for the season. It is the same price as staff accommodation. There was a monthly fee and it was a little bit up the hill.
- On Mountain Private Rentals – Private rentals on the mountain go very quickly (and early pre-season), but can be a great option if sharing with friends. You may be able to find something on the Silver Star Facebook page for private and shared accommodation.
- On Mountain Staff Accommodation – The Silver Load Accommodation offers ensuite rooms located steps from the village center. This slopeside accommodation comes with a large common area, share kitchen, share indoor hot tub and staff lounge. Rooms are typically shared between 4 staff and can be a great way to meet people. Returning staff may have access to premium rooms. Check out the Youtube video above for a look into the staff accommodation.
Staff accommodation is $400 – $500 a month depending on the size of the unit. You can have friends stay for 20 dollars a night. The rooms have two bunk beds, most with a double bed option on the bottom. Get in early to get a bottom bed for the season otherwise you have a top in the single for the season! It is best to arrive before orientation. The OWH tour arrives the day before orientation. Rooms also have telephones, coffee makers and TVs.
Throughout the winter season, Silver Star runs a staff bus to and from Vernon 2 times in the morning and 2 times in the afternoon. This provides staff with access to shopping outlets, movie theatres and other activities as well as supermarkets for grocery shopping.
Staff living in Vernon can also catch this bus to help them get to and from work. There are several pick up and drop off locations.
There are 16 restaurants, pubs, lounges on the mountain which makes for a small nightlife. If you go out, you are very likely to bump into everyone you know. As a result, house parties are really popular among the staff at Silver Star. For bars, Saloon is a pub that gets packed and has a great vibe including big parties every Friday and Saturday. Long Johns does dinner and a pub vibe and is another popular place for seasonal workers.
There are a few other winter activities you can enjoy during the season such as snowshoeing, snowmobiling, taking a ride in a groomer, or even taking horse-drawn sleigh to a cozy little cabin for dinner. Other activities during the season might be watching a hockey game, shopping at the mall in Vernon, checking out a festival or going to a play or movie.