Insider's Guide to Whistler
Just over 30 miles inland from Canada's West Coast, Whistler Blackcomb ski resort towers above 8,171 acres of mountain terrain. Consistently ranked the number one ski resort in North America by a host of ski and travel publications like Ski Magazine, Whistler is Canada's poshest peak. To stay like a king and play like a local, we've assembled our favorite mountaintop experiences to navigate the Canadian resort in style.
Going to Whistler isn't just about one peak experience, two side-by-side summits offer double trouble, connected by Peak 2 Peak, a world record-holding gondola hanging 1,427 feet above the valley floor. Runs ranging from beginner to black diamond coat the slopes with easy-going green cruisers to double black diamonds like Sudan Couloir, one of the steepest in-bound runs in the world according to Skiing Magazine. Though Whistler is better known, Blackcomb is just as developed. It takes three chairs alone just to reach the top, aptly called 7th Heaven, where locals "go to heaven and ski like hell."
Insider Tip: When riding Peak 2 Peak, look out for two silver, glass-bottomed cabins to view the valley from a high-altitude angle.
The base of Whistler Mountain is the heart of the resort's après-ski scene. Heating up around 3 pm, Whistler's version of après isn't just a one-beer affair, rather a multi-hour commitment (still in your ski gear, of course)! Catch the après action at the Garibaldi Lift Co., known simply as "GLC" to locals, or on the outdoor patio at The Longhorn Saloon. If sipping a cab merlot in front of a roaring fire is more your speed, visit the Mallard Lounge in the Fairmont Chateau Whistler.
The Bearfoot Bistro is Whistler's most swish dining address—complete with a pianist tickling the ivories of a baby grand. Savor local fare like West Coast black cod prepared by celebrated chef Melissa Craig. For a frosty finish to your meal, order the nitro ice cream, a gastronomic dessert and show, mixed atop a custom-built trolley table-side.
Insider Tip: The restaurant's owner broke the Guinness World Record in 2011 for sabering the most bottles of Champagne in under a minute. In an effort to pass on this Old World art, guests can channel their inner Napoleon too—simply ordering a bottle of Champagne means you get access to the restaurant's 20,000-bottle wine cellar to whip off the top of your bubbly with a sword!
While you're gallivanting in the great outdoors it's only logical to get in touch with your inner Canadian and spa in the wilderness. A tradition popular in Scandinavia and Eastern Canada, Scandinave Spa's thermal bathing pools (some hot and some icy cold), eucalyptus steam, rosemary sauna, and heated relaxation rooms stimulate healing and cleanse the body. Intended to be completed in cycles of hot-cold-relax, Scandinave is as much an après-ski stop, as it is an all-day indulgence.
If you want to stay at the foot of the hill, we recommend the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, a Canadian castle-meets-chalet clad in cozy tones and wood accents throughout. If boutique hotels are more you bag, rest your head at the Nita Lake Lodge, nestled beside one of Whistler's glacier-fed lakes—just a one-minute ride from the hill (via complimentary shuttle).
Photo credits: Whistler lifts courtesy of Trish Friesen; Whistler Apres-Ski courtesy of Flickr/kcxd; Bearfoot Bistro wine cellar courtesy of Bearfoot Bistro; Scandinave Spa courtesy of Trish Friesen; Nita Lake Lodge courtesy of Nita Lake Lodge
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GLC is Garibaldi Lift Co.