Step Up Your Winter Ski Vacation
A luxury stay in Whistler, British Columbia By Marguerite Cleveland
Nothing gets you more in vacation mode than a stunning scenic drive to your destination. The epic views from the Sea to Sky Highway leading to Whistler, British Columbia, are some of the best in the world. After this drive, you arrive in Whistler Village, which is reminiscent of a European ski town, but this one has an Old-World charm with all the modern conveniences.
Where to Stay
There are two Pan Pacific hotels in the Whistler Village, and both are luxurious experiences with all-suite accommodations that include a full kitchen. For the best location in Whistler, you’ll want to choose the Pan Pacific Mountainside Hotel, just steps away from both the Whistler and Blackcomb Mountain gondolas. Enjoy spectacular views from the outdoor deck with a heated pool and two whirlpools. The Pan Pacific Whistler Village Centre is further from the slopes but offers a slope-side ski valet and storage. Your daily rate also includes a complimentary daily breakfast buffet. Also enjoy an outdoor lap pool and whirlpools. Both hotels provide a luxury experience with a helpful, friendly staff.
Where to Eat
The Whistler dining experience offers something for everyone with a wide variety of restaurants.
For an extravagant experience that is fun and not stuffy, try the Bearfoot Bistro. Start with a pre-dinner activity first. Don a Canada Goose arctic expedition parka and sip vodkas while learning about this alcohol with a visit to the Ketel One Ice Room with its sub-zero temperatures. The extreme temperature of -25 degrees takes the burn away when tasting from the more than 50 vodka choices. If you want a more active experience, try champagne sabering. The founder of the restaurant, Andre Saint-Jacques, holds the Guinness World Record for champagne sabering 21 bottles in one minute. This fun lesson takes place in the underground wine cellar with 20,000 bottles of world-class wines. Next enjoy dinner in the dining room, which sources ingredients from local farmers and around the world to create an eclectic menu sure to please even the most discerning foodie. For a special treat, book the Chef’s Table and interact with Executive Chef Melissa Craig as she prepares a five-course tasting menu for your group.
For a fun après ski experience with a great location (right in your hotel), head to the Dubh Linn Gate Pub, which has been a Whistler favorite since 1997 when it was designed, crafted and transported from Ireland to Whistler. It has a covered outdoor patio with outdoor heating and a fire feature with great views of the mountainside. Combine that with good hearty food and nightly live music for a great way to end your day. The food here is really good, with everything from juicy burgers and crispy fries to bangers and mash (sausage and mashed potatoes smothered in gravy). After a day of skiing, you’ll have earned the calories. The wait staff is fun and very knowledgeable about the menu and can make recommendations if you are unsure what to order.
What to Do
Whistler really shines in the winter with so many exhilarating outdoor activities—and interesting indoor activities when you want to get out of the cold. Tourism Whistler is the official destination website where you can research activities and book most right from the website.
Vallea Lumina is an amazing nighttime activity that pairs nature with modern technology. The journey begins with a bus ride from Whistler Village. The magic begins as you leave the lights of Whistler and begin a dark ride toward Pemberton. The website for Vallea Lumina is very vague on photos and what you will experience, which is a good thing, as it creates a special experience where you aren’t sure what you will encounter. The bus will take you to a camp with a snack bar, firepits with roaring fires, and restrooms. From here you will depart on a 1-kilometer hike on a mostly level and flat trail through an old-growth forest. The basic storyline is you are following the traces of two hikers paired with legends of the indigenous people. The experience combines lighting, music and other special effects for a captivating walk in which guests of all ages will be enthralled. This is a must-try activity. Make sure to dress warmly and be prepared to walk in the snow.
Whistler is known for its skiing, and there are some luxury experiences that go above and beyond the average experience. Did you know you can book an Olympian to ski or snowboard with? Spend a day one-on-one or with a group of up to four for one price and learn your Olympian’s techniques and listen to their stories. Select the person of your choice from the Whistler Blackcomb website. Step your game up even more by booking a gold medalist for an additional fee. Strong intermediate or above skill level skiers can book a Heli-skiing tour for the best in backcountry alpine skiing or snowboarding. The tour takes you up the mountain, includes lunch, avalanche safety equipment, an experienced guide, and some tours include video and photos of your experience. Epic!
After all the outdoor activity, you may find yourself a little achy. The Scandinave Spa Whistler is just the answer. Enjoy a traditional Scandinavian bath experience paired with a massage, and you will be fully relaxed. The whole concept is built around hydrotherapy, which consists of a cycle of hot-cold-relax, providing therapeutic results. The outdoor baths are beautifully scenic in the winter, and there is no talking for a truly peaceful experience. Make sure to allow plenty of time for your experience. The spa provides two towels; use one for the baths and keep the other in your provided locker for later. Bring flip flops or water shoes, and spring for the bathrobe rental. You will be glad you have it. The spa is very popular at peak season, so go in the morning right when it opens when there aren’t as many people.
Make sure to allow time on your trip to spend in Whistler Village. There are a variety of luxury shopping experiences in the village and many places where you can purchase local artisan products. Check out the Made in Whistler Market held in the Westin Resort & Spa, open every Sunday through March from noon to 5pm. Offerings include handcrafted pottery, fine art, jewelry, and many others. The Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre has a beautiful gallery and gift shop where you can purchase items that are inspired by the Squamish and Lil’wat cultures.
Whistler is enjoying recent snowfall, which makes for terrific skiing conditions. Plan a visit and see why this resort is considered one of the top places to ski in North America.