A short drive from Vancouver, British Columbia, Whistler is a snow lover’s paradise. Many people already know that it is one of the best ski destinations in the world, but there is so much more to do there in the winter, even if you aren’t a ski bunny. Boutique shopping, culinary delights, extreme adventures, and relaxing spas are only some of the options. This full-service resort town has a little bit of something for everyone.
Traveling to Whistler from Vancouver is easy—you simply catch the Pacific Coach Lines bus for a 2-hour scenic drive along the Sea-to-Sky Highway. Once in Whistler Village (which was one of the sights for the 2010 Winter Olympics), it’s easy to get around by foot or by using the free shuttle service between the upper and lower villages.
Dave and I love snowboarding, and we were excited to have the chance to do it in Whistler. We booked our room at the Westin Resort & Spa Whistler, located at the foot of the Whistler Gondola, and had seven glorious days to snowboard and take part in other amazing outdoor winter activities. We also enjoyed award-winning fine dining and pampered ourselves after hitting the slopes.
Viewfinder Tip: By a ticket for Fresh Tracks the day before you ski to be first up the gondola. At the top, you’ll enjoy a buffet breakfast, then be among the first to ski down.
Even during peak ski season, Whistler Blackcomb ski resort makes it easy to get your gear and be out on the slopes in no time. We picked up our gear and 4-day ski passes at the shop near the Whistler gondola, and in less than an hour we were on our way back to the hotel’s ski valet. With 8,100 acres of terrain, 200 trails, 38 lifts, and 16 alpine bowls, it can be a challenge to know where to start your day at Whistler Blackcomb. That’s why we took advantage of one of the free mountain host tours (which are offered daily at 11:30 a.m.) For 90 minutes we followed a Whistler ski veteran down the trails as he gave us the lay of the land.
We snowboarded for three full days before exploring the town of Whistler. As we found out, there is a lot to do off the slopes, too. One of the most exciting activities in Whistler is bobsledding on the Olympic track. This is the fastest bobsleigh track in the world; on it, we hit speeds of 126 m.p.h. We rode with a professional driver to make sure we didn’t fly off the tracks as we barrelled down the icy course. The pros go out with every rider.
We also appreciated Whistler’s foodie scene, especially Araxi Restaurant, voted the city’s best, and the famous Bearfoot Bistro. We had an incredible five-course dinner at the Bearfoot. After slurping back oysters and sipping on bubbly, we donned Canada Goose parkas to partake in a private vodka tasting in the ice room—considered the coldest vodka bar in the world. Next we were off to the wine cellar to try our hand at sabering the necks off of bottles of champagne. After a quick lesson, I was handed a sword and bottle and cut loose as I tried to chop the top off the champagne. Surprisingly, it popped off in one fell swoop. Moments later, the manager was bringing down a bobsled for us to sit in while we downed our champagne. Even indoors, Whistler is an adventure.
The adventures continued the following day, when we snowmobiled on Cougar Mountain with the Adventure Group. As large snowflakes fell overhead, we followed an experienced guide through a labyrinth of trails, winding up and down steep hills, and tearing it up in open fields.
Our Whistler trip wasn’t all adventure, champagne, and multi-course dinners. We always have wanted to take a sleigh ride through the forest, and, at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, we did. As we weaved through the grounds (sipping apple cider while wrapped in a warm and fuzzy blanket), I felt like I was in a movie. Dave put his arm around me and instead of taking photographs or worrying about what to do, we simply fell into the rhythm of the ride and enjoyed the view. We were let off at the chalet feeling refreshed and energized for a 3-course fondue dinner of cheese and chocolate.
We took the next day off from skiing to try out Scandinave Spa Whistler. The spa’s beautiful outdoor setting was calm and peaceful. The moment couldn’t have been more perfect: Snow began to fall while we relaxed in the outdoor hut tub. This moment proved that Whistler is a magical vacation destination. The magic will leave you yearning to return again and again. Why fight it?
What’s your favorite winter activity?