Are the slopes calling your name, even though you’ve never strapped on a pair of ski boots in your life? Not feeling ready for the adventure of, say, Jackson Hole but want more than your local ski hill can provide? You’re in luck, snow-bound grasshopper, because I’ve found you the perfect getaway.

I’d like you to meet Mount Norquay­–he’s the laid-back sibling among Alberta’s ‘Big3’ mountains. Here you will find welcoming terrain for powder hounds of any skill level and uncrowded slopes that will allow you to perfect your pizza and french fry in peace. The combination of friendly terrain and wide open slopes is a recipe for success for those just starting out. And for the more experienced, it’s a welcome respite from the busyness of Lake Louise and Sunshine Village.

Despite its fun-size status, Mount Norquay has incredible views from the top of the resort, just like its better-known counterparts on the Big3 ticket. Another perk of Norquay’s size? While Banff is known for some rough weather, because of its smaller stature, skiers and snowboarders at Mount Norquay are often insulated from the worst of the elements.

See? Nothing to worry about! Now let’s get into the details of the experience.

As a lifelong beginner myself, something I always recommend to others in similar shoes–er, boots–is a good half day of lessons if it fits your budget. The ski school at Mount Norquay offers reasonably priced classes at a variety of levels. The teachers here can help you feel comfortable in the snow for the very first time, or take your shredding technique to the next level, with adult group or private lessons.

If you’d rather dive right in–or are feeling ready for more after a lesson–it’s time to hit the magic carpet. This leads you directly to to a handful of gentle beginner runs that you can enjoy as you build confidence. When you’re ready for even more, try hopping on the Cascade lift to test out some advanced-beginner-level greens.

By this time, you’ll likely have realized that carving powder works up quite the appetite. If you want to stay at Mount Norquay, you have a few ways to fuel up. The first floor of Cascade Lodge (at the base of the mountain) offers quick deli & cafeteria options for hangry skiers and snowboarders. On the second floor you can take in sunshine and watch people attempt the Lone Pine Bumps run at the aptly named Lone Pine Pub and Restaurant. Enjoy table service, scenery, and a well-deserved craft brew.

For a more elevated experience, take the North American (Big Chair) lift to Cliffhouse Bistro. The whole experience is highly Instagrammable, with dreamy mid-century vibes that complement a stunning view from the very top of the resort.

As you start to plan your trip, you’ll soon notice that when you’ve picked Norquay as your mountain of choice, most of the nearest lodging is in Banff proper, just a 10 minute ride from the base of the mountain.

In case you were wondering, yes, that does mean you get the best of both worlds on your trip. A relaxing day on the slopes, followed by the bustle and excitement of Banff? I’ll meet you at Rundle Lounge for après!

On those days during your trip where your legs just can’t handle another day on your skis or board, Norquay has plenty of other snow-related fun to keep you busy. You can try all eight lanes of tubing, then for an extra thrill, whirl down the tubing slopes under the night sky. Or if tubing doesn’t tickle your fancy, give snowshoeing a try and explore the mountain at a slower pace.

And if you feel like moving a whole lot less than either of these options, pile on those base layers and grab a sightseeing lift ticket. Cliffhouse bistro can be found at the end of this lift, so this is pretty much the perfect rest day.

If you’re ready to book your trip, you’ve come to the right place. The Lodging Company can help you plan your perfect beginners escape to Alberta, and increasingly advanced ski trips thereafter. Happy (ski) trails!