Why Whistler

Whistler has long been hailed as one of the best ski resorts in the world. With miles of piste to discover, an unrivalled selection of restaurants and bars, and of course fantastic accommodation options, Whistler and Blackcomb are a hard to beat. Ski specialists, Bronwen and Jenny, tell us why we should all head stateside next season.

Having seen, learnt and heard so much about Whistler we were intrigued to see what this world-famous resort had in store for us. The epic ski area is of course the main attraction, but why does it attract so many skiers across the eight time zones?

We landed in Vancouver mid-afternoon and the airport’s proximity to the city is the perfect excuse to add on a night or two there at the start or end of your trip. This cosmopolitan city has some great experiences to offer from street food taste tours and watching the sea planes (or even venturing out on one) to cycling around Stanley Park. We stayed at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia which is close to the Coal Town district, 15 minutes from the harbour and 5 minutes from the shopping area. The hotel offered us the perfect mix of comfort food and truly comfortable bed we needed to recover from the jet lag. December is an amazing time to visit, as the hotel opens up their garden terrace, Reflections, and turns it into a winter wonderland with the most amazing canopy of twinkly lights. We would highly recommend making a reservation as it’s a firm favourite with the locals!

After a night and morning exploring Vancouver we then transferred up to Whistler by luxury SUV on the Sea to Sky Highway, an amazing experience in itself. Transfers up to ski resorts in Canada and the US are something entirely different to the winding roads guests might have experienced in Europe, expect wide roads and very gentle climb. No more three-hour transfers feeling green! The highway takes you all the way into Whistler in around two hours, which whizzed by as we were so distracted by the amazing views.

On first impressions arriving into Whistler we were surprised by the scale of the village and quite how large it felt. The resort has around 90 restaurants alone! Despite the rain in the village, the mountains were shrouded by thick low cloud, meaning it had to be snowing up top. We were staying in Blackcomb which is at the base of one of the two mountains that make up the resort, Blackcomb and Whistler. There are advantages to staying in both locations, if you are looking for somewhere a little quieter then Blackcomb Village is great. If you prefer to have the bustling village on your doorstep then Whistler Village is so convenient. If you are staying at the Four Seasons or the Fairmont, both located in Blackcomb village, then you have access to a complimentary driver service to take you in and out of the village (or you can walk there in around 10 – 15 minutes), so you really can’t go wrong when choosing where to stay!

Thanks to the jetlag, the following morning we were up exceptionally early and were straight on the lifts shortly after they opened – a rarity when comparing this against our usual European trips! We were right with our prediction about the weather and it was snowing at the top through the clouds, making for great conditions. Whistler village is only 600m high so although it can rain in resort you won’t be affected by altitude which is a real bonus when travelling with small children. The resort has over 8100 acres of terrain split across the two mountains and linked by the impressive Peak 2 Peak gondola, the world’s longest and highest suspended gondola. If you don’t have a head for heights, just make sure you avoid the glass bottomed cabin! Often the snow conditions can vary between the two mountains so if you just fancy switching then you can transfer mountain on this impressive lift, which only takes 12 minutes.

Later that afternoon we ventured to do the Ziptrek experience, which is a zip line tour of 9 different lines suspended scarily high above the forest and valley. There are a few different tours that you can take part in, and we were on the twilight tour, which as the name suggests is in the pitch black! This was most definitely a surreal experience, but launching off the platforms into the darkness certainly helped with the nerves!

With the extensive number of restaurants on offer in the town, there is plenty of choice and a real mix of cuisines. On our second evening we took part in the Whistler Tasting Tour which is a great concept and we would thoroughly recommend, each course is at a different restaurant and you are escorted from one to the next by a Whistler local. It’s a really great way to experience a few of the different restaurants as well as a chance to get your bearings around the town. The first stop for us was in the wine cellar of Bearfoot Bistro where Jenny got to try her hand at ‘Champagne sabering’, a great trick that I’m sure she will be pulling out at her next party! It was a great opportunity to talk to our guide about growing up in Whistler and learn more about the local history, all whilst sampling some of the resorts culinary delights.

So why Whistler? This immense ski resort really does offer so much more than just your usual ski experience. The off-mountain activities for both families and couples are impressive, from zip lining to dog sledging and from tasting tours to wilderness tours. Service is another major difference when crossing to North America, the locals you meet are wonderfully insightful and helpful and the concept of ‘ski concierge’ is simply inspired! The Four Seasons, Fairmont and the Westin all have ski tents at the base of the slopes where guests drop their skis off after skiing and then they are delivered back to the rental shops at each hotel. At the Four Seasons base camp we were even greeted with cookies and hot chocolate whilst taking our boots off – which is only a short stroll back to the hotel.

Although the time difference means it takes a few days to adjust, the benefits are that you are awake early and skiing in time to hopefully make some fresh tracks. Although our trip was a real whistle stop tour, we are so impressed by how much Whistler has to offer. So, will we back for more? Absolutely!

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