Thinking of taking a break in one of the world's most renound ski spots? We've got the inside track on the best ways to while away your time on, and off, the slopes in Whistler.
Situated two hours out of Vancouver, Whistler is the ideal ski spot for novices and experts alike and boasts staggering views of the Coast Mountain Range. To help you really make the most of the winter wonderland, we’ve taken our pick of the best things to see and do in Whistler.
Situated just two hours from Vancouver, Whistler is nestled among the breathtaking surrounds of the Coast Mountain Range. Host to many of the recent events at this years Olympic and Paralympic Games, its an unrivalled ski spot, boasting 8,000 acres of skiable terrain and receiving a staggering 2million skiers and riders every year to its renowned Blackbomb ski resort. With an average of 10 metres of snow per year, the resort is the ultimate playground for experts and novices alike, with terrain to suit all levels. Heli-skiing is a unique experience offered at Whistler, and allows you to enjoy skiing upon untouched powder fields, chosen by an expert guide who will fly you over the nearby mountain ranges. Its also the only resort in North America where you can ride a glacier - and there's nothing to beat that experience.
When its been snowing all night, youll want to be the first out making tracks, but if you struggle to make an early rise, the 'fresh-tracks breakfast' is the perfect incentive to get you up and about. For $17.25, you'll bag a hearty feast at the Roundhouse Lodge - served promptly from 7.30am - as well as early loading privileges. Wolf down the bacon, pancakes, granola, fruit, croissants and that all-important coffee, but be ready to run when the bell rings! That's your queue the runs are officially open.
If you want to be cutting up the snow like a pro by the time you leave Whistler, then there's no better way to learn than from an expert. The resort has ski and snowboarding schools where you can take one-on-one private lessons or, for us girls, there's the ROXY all-star snow camps. Taking lessons will help you cut out the queues and catch the best views too, as instructors have that all-important insider knowledge on the best runs and lesser known hot (or cold, as the case may be) spots.
After a hard day on the slopes, there are plenty of places to unwind within shuffling distance. Whether you want to bask in the sun on one of the many patios, or warm your hands by a cosy fire, there is something for everyone. Live music is a regular feature in most Whistler bars, and their laid-back atmosphere is perfect for those straight off the slopes and feeling less than their best. If you ski down to Blackcomb Base, head to Merlin's, or if it's Creekside where you end up, then Dusty's is the place to be. If the sun is still shining and you just happened to remember your sunnies, then we recommend grabbing a table at Longhorn's, right at the base of Whistler mountain.
If you're not so accustomed to the thigh-burning effects of skiing, then taking a day off from the mountain is a great antidote. There are plenty of alternative activities on offer, with snowmobiling a popular favourite. Whether youre an adventure junkie or a first-time rider, there are tours to suit everyone, all of which take you through some spectacular scenery and terrain. Tours also stop at a mountain lodge so you can refuel yourself and your snowmobile.
Ask any local in Whistler where to dine and they'll send you straight to Rim Rock Café - if you like a fresh fishy on a little dishy, youll be sold! Its ability to fuse the relaxed ambience of a ski lodge with a fine dining experience, has made it a winner of multiple awards and a favourite with its customers. Youll want to come back again and again to sample the mouth-watering oysters, rare ahi, sablefish, caribou and beef tenderloin, not forgetting the famous sticky toffee pudding but you wont be the only one, so book well in advance to avoid missing out.
If youre a bit of a party animal, and you can still muster up the energy to bust some moves after a hard day's skiing, there are plenty of choice spots amongst Whistlers pubs and clubs. Most nights get going from around 10pm, and local favourites include Tommy Africa's on a Monday, with its 80s theme nights or, for some chart action, head to Buffalo Bill's on a Wednesday.
From souveniers to pro ski gear, Whistler village has it covered, so you needn't worry if you forget to pack your sunglasses or goggles. The weather in Whistler changes on a daily basis, so you may find you want to pick up a few extras for your holiday wardrobe, and if you do, there's plenty of trendy ski shops from Oakley to Billabong, as well as a whole host of fashion boutiques. If you're really taken by life on the slopes, then there are also stores with expert advice and custom-fitting services who can kit you out like a pro.
Opened in 1999, the Whistler Bike Park is one of the best in the world. With over 200km of bike'able terrain, and lifts and gondolas taking you up to the top of the mountain, it would be a crime not to come back during the summer and try Whistler on two wheels. There's also glacier hiking, golf, horse riding or the chance to take a dip in one of the beautiful lakes a formidable oppurtunity during snow fall! The white wonderland of winter is transformed into a utopia of lush greens that are equally awe-inspiring. Be sure to head home again before October though, when the warm weather ends and the rain sets in.
Taking kids on holiday isnt always easy, but in Whistler there are endless ways to keep them entertained and get them tired in time for bed. Blackbomb is a family friendly resort with staff who will ensure your little ones are junior ski bunnies in no time, and have fun while they're at it. And if you're feeling in the mood for a family day out, then there are adventure parks, a tube park, as well as a weekly 'fire and ice show' featuring pro-skiers and boarders, that is sure to prompt plenty of oohs' and 'aahs' from the whole family. If you want a day off from the slopes, then there are also plenty of sweet little village shops nearby with treats for your children to lust over.