Winter in Whistler
Find pristine snow, adventure, culture, nature and leisure in this British Columbian mountain resort
By Noelle Valentine
From its humble beginnings as a fishing lodge in 1914, to being center stage for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, Whistler, British Columbia, has always been considered a special place and outstanding destination for adventurous spirits. Located in the spectacular Coast Mountains just two hours north of Vancouver, the area is a favorite year-round destination.
Two majestic mountains, Whistler and Blackcomb, feature more than 8,000 acres of terrain and receive and average of almost 40 feet of snow annually. A vibrant base Village, epic skiing and snowboarding, unbeatable shopping, restaurants and bars, accommodations to suit every budget, hiking trails, spas and arguably the best mountain bike park in the world make Whistler a favorite for thrill-seekers, nature lovers and leisure lovers alike.
THINGS TO DO
In winter months, snow bunnies descend upon the Village and down the slopes in droves. It’s a true winter wonderland with many ways to enjoy the cold season both on and off the slopes.
The skiing and snowboarding are unmatched. Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains are a skier’s dream destination — the ultimate in big mountain experiences and consistently ranked No. 1 among North American ski resorts. There are steeps, deeps, chutes, bowls, glades, superb corduroy, long cruisers, high alpine and gentle rollers, more than 200 trails; three glaciers; 37 lifts; and 16 alpine bowls.
A lift ticket will give you access to both mountains, and you’ll enjoy easy access to the base Village with accommodations, shops and an unbeatable après-ski scene located slopeside. Whistler’s ski and snowboard season runs from November to May.
Aside from skiing and snowboarding, visitors can enjoy a huge variety of things to do from exploring the snow-covered Village with your family, special holiday events, backcountry adventures and legendary après sessions. The winter activities are so good readers of SKI Magazine ranked Whistler as the No. 1 resort in North America for off-hill activities for 2015! A few to consider include winter ziplining, dog sledding, tube park fun, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, sleigh rides, ice skating, ice climbing, winter bungee jumping, tree top adventures, hockey tours, eagle viewing and ice fishing.
One favorite off-the-slope activity is the Whistler PEAK 2 PEAK 360 Experience that offers stunning 360-degree views of Whistler Village, mountain peaks, lakes, glaciers and forests. Additionally, consider dining on the rooftop of the world with views of the ski slopes and towering peaks. (whistler.com)
WHERE TO STAY
Elegant and richly stated, First Tracks Lodge is a unique collection of designer suites that blends unparalleled luxury with an inspired location. Set at the base of Whistler Mountain in the Creekside Village, First Tracks Lodge is literally 50 steps from the Creekside Express Gondola, shopping, fine dining and après ski. Choose from one- to four-bedroom suites that include great views, terraces or patios, full kitchens, washer/dryers, wireless internet and more.
Guests can enjoy access to a large outdoor pool and hot tub area. The hot tub is available year-round, offering the perfect place to unwind after a long day on the hill. The outdoor patio area also offers access to a common BBQ grilling area and a steam room. Indoors, relax in the spacious lobby, which centers around a large bluestone fireplace. Sink back into a comfy couch or chair while reading a favorite book, visiting with family or making new friends. Better yet, just warm up and relax. And if the mountain workout isn’t enough, there is a fully-equipped gym available 24/7.
The Lodge is currently offering guests special rates: the longer you stay, the more you’ll save. When you book your winter vacation by Nov. 15: Save 20 percent on two night stays; save 30 percent on stays three nights or longer; or save up to 35 percent when you package your accommodation with your Whistler Blackcomb lift tickets, lessons or rentals. Reservations 604-938-9999 (firsttrackslodge.com)
WHERE TO EAT
Though dining options abound, no visit to Whistler is complete without an evening at nearby Bearfoot Bistro, a premier fine dining restaurant. Enjoy a spectacular meal created by award-winning Executive Chef Melissa Craig, try your hand at sabering a bottle of Champagne, or visit the Ketel One Ice room, the coldest vodka tasting room in the world… A must do and visit its 22,000 bottle wine room.
Bearfoot Bistro founder André Saint-Jacques believes beautiful food and great wine shared with friends and family is always a celebration. From a dedicated oyster-shucker to the sommeliers, from bar team to the live music program, this dining venue will
create your perfect experience, whether for après-ski, dinner, drinks or late-night dancing. (bearfootbistro.com)
For a bit of British Columbian culture, there are a couple of places you should visit. One such is the Audain Art Museum, where there is a permanent collection of British Columbian art from early times to present day. Particular strengths include a collection of 19th century First Nations masks, one of Canada’s strongest Emily Carr collections, as well as a selection of celebrated photo-based art, such as Andy Warhol and Diego Rivera pieces. Plus the 56,000- square-foot museum, designed by Patkau Architects, has been built into the existing landscape and features a park-like setting for outdoor art and sculptures. (audainartmuseum.com)
Also plan a visit to the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre where you’ll learn about the area’s indigenous people. The Centre was built to house and showcase the art, history and culture of the Canadian Aboriginal peoples. In the gift shop, find handcrafted art and merchandise, and in the Thunderbird Café, discover the unique style of modern First Nation’s cuisine such as bannock, salmon and venison. (slcc.ca)
Visitors from Houston can fly nonstop to Vancouver where a driver from VIP Whistler Car Service (vipwhistler.com) will greet you with a welcome sign with your name on it. You’ll then enjoy an amazing, beautiful drive into Whistler. And as an added bonus, upon your return, as a U.S. citizen, you’ll clear U.S. customs in Canada, so upon arrival back in Houston, you simply disembark, gather your luggage and drive home.
Experience Whistler for yourself this winter. You’ll want to come back the following summer and play 3 great golf courses – Nicklaus North, Whistler Golf Club, and Fairmont Chateau Whistler Golf Club… visit golfwhistler.com
Visit Whistler.com for more information.