Whistleris proof that if at first you don't succeed, try again.
Cherry-picked to be a ski resort by a group of Vancouver
businessmen intent on seeing Canada host the 1968 Winter Olympics,
Whistler lost out to Grenoble, France. It's now the largest ski
resort in North America and, in 2010, more than 40 years after the
original bid, was finally chosen to host the Winter Olympic and
Paralympic Games. We call that a serious comeback.
Constantly evolving and expanding, the twin mountains of
Whistler and Blackcomb encompass a whopping 200
ski trails (from beginner to expert), 16 valleys and three
glaciers. It's a veritable smorgasbord for skiers and snowboarders
- and home to plenty of other winter sports besides.
Named after the whistling marmots that live in the area,
Whistler is a place where nothing stands still.
There's a festival line-up that includes a Pride parade strapped
onto skis, a chocolate-box selection of hotels and the
record-breaking PEAK 2 PEAK gondola joining the two mountains.
Constantly cutting-edge, Whistler is as fresh as its abundant
snowfall. And with cosmopolitan Vancouver just a snowball's throw
away, a ski holiday in Whistler takes some beating.
Canadian highs: why we're skiing in Whistler this winter
Rooms with views
With its whipped-cream mountain peaks, snow-covered turreted
hotels plucked from the pages of a fairy tale and thick pine
forests that wouldn't look out of place in a Narnia adaptation,
Whistler's winter style is "dressed to impress". Nestled between
the Coast Mountains and the West Coast Wilderness, it manages to
look rugged and like a cake delicately sculpted from royal icing
all at once.
Location, location, location
Sea and summits are a rare combination, but with Whistler being
just two hours from Vancouver, along the world-famous Sea to Sky
Highway, you can be by the ocean in the morning and in the
mountains by the early afternoon. And we can't deny the perks of
going from passport control to the piste in less than two hours.
Ditch the car: Whistler is easy to reach by public transport and
the village is pedestrianised.
Ski season lasts longer
Move over Endless Summer; we want an endless winter, and that's
exactly what Whistler offers. If you cross off the days until you
can hit the pistes - rather than counting down to Christmas - we
have good news: the season here starts as early as November and
continue until May. Indeed, while many ski resorts struggle to get
going before late December, in Whistler, November is often the
month with the highest snowfall.
If you're anything like us, decision-making leaves you in a
panic. What should I wear today? Which dish should I order from the
menu? Which mountain should I ski from today? In Whistler, it's all
linked, so there's no indecision over which peak to head for. The
PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola, joining Blackcomb Mountain and Whistler
Mountain, spans 3km and runs 436m above the ground. On completion,
the lift broke world records including the highest lift of its kind
at 436m/1,427ft above the valley floor. At the risk of stating the
obvious, the views from the gondola are rather special.
There's Whistler Pride and Ski Festival, one of the biggest
queer-focused ski weeks globally; the World Ski and Snowboard
Festival and an epic après scene to (ski) boot… We could go on.
Whistler's calendar is so varied, you'll struggle to find time to
hit the slopes. Even if your trip doesn't align with one of the
many festivals, the weekly Fire and Ice show (Sunday evenings),
with fireworks, fire spinners and skiers jumping through flaming
rings, provides the sort of atmosphere that even George R. R.
Martin would have struggled to cook up.
The foodie scene
Armies of hungry skiers march (or rather glide) on their
stomachs. With a melting pot of cultures and nationalities, it's
little surprise that Canada has so staunchly embraced world
cuisine, and Whistler is no exception. There's fine dining, finger
food and an après scene that'll take you from post-piste schnapps
to feasts of fondue. We're particularly keen on the farm-to-fork
approach taken by many of the restaurants, which source their food
as locally as possible.
Sure, the skiing and snowboarding are world-class, but variety
being the spice of life, it's hard to ignore the array of other
activities Whistler offers, from bungee jumping to bobsleighing and
snowshoeing to snowmobiling. It's little wonder Whistler keeps its
repeat clientele. The outdoors is a way of life here, and it shows
- linger a little longer to try it all. Our favourite? Ziplining
over the icing-sugar slopes.
A family affair
Stop trying to drag the inexperienced skier in your family down
a black run, Whistler has options. 35% of the runs are green
(beginners), with almost exactly the same percentage suitable for
intermediate and advanced skiers. Add in family zones and terrain
parks and everyone's happy. It's a different story at après, where
all ages rub shoulders.
Skipping the line
We may be a nation known for our commitment to queueing, but
that doesn't mean we take pleasure in it. Whistler has 38 ski lifts
that can transport over 65,000 skiers per hour, giving us more time
on the slopes. Two new lifts will open this year - the Big Red
Express chairlift and the Creekside Gondola. More time skiing and
less time standing? Yes, please.
Fascinating museums and galleries aren't what you usually
associate with a ski town, but Whistler has got them. There are
contemporary and fine art galleries - the Audain Art Gallery is a
must for any itinerary - and a museum that explores Whistler's
skiing history, but our favourite is the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural
Centre, a First Nations museum, with exhibits and art installations
that showcase indigenous culture.
Slide into those salopettes and buckle up your ski boots;
we're hitting the white stuff in Whistler. With favourable exchange
rates, you'll get more bang for your buck so start planning your
Canadian escape at whistler.com/winter
Win a Week-Long Ski Adventure (Flights Included) in Whistler, Canada