I took a year out to live in work in Whistler between 2007 and 2008 and feel I can give good 'local' knowledge of the area, the experience and things to do during your stay.
For those travelling from the UK, Whistler can be one of the more expensive options for a winter holiday. The Canadian dollar is currently quite strong. However, it is possible to make a relatively cheap holiday by booking accomodation in one of Whistlers hostels. Southside Lodge at Whistler Creekside springs to mind as the best. (Book early as beds will fill up quickly.)
Whistler resort has 2 mountains with over 4000 acres of skiable terrain. Whistler mountain and the nearby Blackcomb mountain. For me, the 2 mountains have quite different feels:
Whistler Mountain feels quite wide spread and includes lots of green or blue runs with gentle slopes ideal for beginners or for those that are just starting to progress.
Blackcomb immediately feels steeper and the immediate runs you will encounter on the gondula up will seem more compact and merging into each other.
Of course as you venture further into the mountains all this changes. Whislter also includes steep areas such as Whistler Bowl and West Bowl and tree runs such as Wild Card or Jimmys Joker. Whilst Blackcomb spreads out at the peak giving access through 'Spankeys Ladder' into some amazing Bowls named 'Sapphire, Diamond and Ruby', or traverse over to the stunning views of 7th Heavon.
As a snowboarder, I found this resort to be very friendly and welcombing to snowboarders and you'll easily find yourself taking to others on the ski lifts about the runs, weather or secret spots.
Regarding the 'Hidden' areas there are plenty. Whilst remaining within the ski boundary area (an absolute must) you can follow the long peak to creek run and divert along 'million dollar ridge' or 'Khybers'- you'll need a guide.
Recently a peak2peak gondula now connects Blackcomb and Whistler so it is easy to experience both mountains within one day.
Whislter village itself spreads along one central village walk where there are many places to celebrate apres. One of the main places is Longhorns based at the bottom of Whistler mountain. If you walk further out there are some really great spots where you will find more locals such as the Crystal Lounge bar (my personal favourite) or the bear.
There is a great live music scene in Whistler with local acts such as Kostaman being seen in many of the local venues. Worth watching if you like a laid-back reggae vibe. There are also open mic events in many of the bars on a Sunday or Wednesday or a full band presence at Merlins over on Blackcomb.
Ice hockey is shown on many of the pub tv screens as with extreme sports for that Canadian experience. There is also a local leisure centre called Meadow Park a bus ride over to Alpine Meadows. There, you can ice skate, gym, swim/spa or play squash etc.
Don't write off Whistler in the summer either. The cross over season picks up when the snow at the Base of Whislter melts and they open the mountain bike park. At this time for a few months its possible to ski/snowboard on top of Blackcomb glacier in the morning and tear around the bikepark on rented bikes in the evening. - Or go for a swim in the usually not too cold mountain lakes surrounding the area.
I have never forgot Whistler since my years experience there. For me, anywhere I've been in the Alps has never come close to the experience. I would say its definately worth saving up the extra for flights over there. Even the drive from Vancouver to Whistler on Sea to Sky Highway is breathtaking!
The only downside is flying home to a relatively flat UK!
This was the first time we had skied across the pond. We wanted to try the Rockies and chose Canada because, frankly, with the sort of "welcome" we had "enjoyed" when trying to enter its southern neighbour in recent years, we really could do without that sort of hassle. Sad really, but the US does seem to have retreated into itself since 9/11 and all visitors seem to be treated as potential terrorists. Our last experience at JFK was a nightmare: we had had 2 hours to clear Passport Control and catch our connecting flight; we made it with minutes to spare! American passport holders were ushered through whilst we "inferior races" were held back time and again. Such arrogance!
So, the Rockies in question were the Canadian ones and the resort we chose was Whistler, primarily because it would be easy to combine it with a week sightseeing in Vancouver, also a first for us. Our entry into Canada at Vancouver airport could not have been less traumatic; we really were made to feel welcome as visitors.
We were travelling with Inghams, our first time with this company. We were met by their local reps and soon were on our way for the 2 hour transfer to the resort, most of which was spent just trying to get out of Vancouver onto the North Shore. There are two major bridges across the bay and both are really inadequate for the amount of traffic. However, once across we were able to sit back and enjoy the amazing scenery.
Although the resort goes under the generic name of Whistler, in fact it consists of two resorts, Whistler and Blackcomb, each of which sits at the foot of its own mountain ridge, separated by a deep valley. It used to be that you skied either Whistler or Blackcomb but now there is a cable car (Peak2Peak) that runs across from ridge to ridge, over the valley, so it is possible to ski either or both, in a day, starting from either resort.
Whistler is a relatively new development as it exists today, largely as a result of hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics. The area, right down to Vancouver itself though, is historically that of the local indigenous tribes, primarily the Squamish. The developments throughout this region have not been entirely uncontentious but the European incomers and the tribes seem to live in peaceful co-existence these days.
We were staying in the Blackcomb half of the resort, at the Blackcomb Suites, self-catering, except for breakfast, which was included. This complex of apartments sits right at the top of the resort, at the end of bus route 6 and next to the Lower Cruiser piste down to the Wizard Express chairlift. This was the route we took each morning to take us up to the highest point and to begin our day. Our accommodation I have reviewed already.
The lifts to the main area of the Blackcomb ridge requires two separate chairlifts, Wizard Express and Solar Coaster Express, each of considerable length. It took us approaching twenty minutes to get to this point. This illustrates one of the major drawbacks of this ski area: most of the lifts are quite long so there really isn't much chance of doing short repetitive runs; all, with a couple of exceptions, are a long way up and a long way back down again.
We had also chosen a relatively late holiday, starting at the end of March and running into early April. We had imagined that this far North on the American continent, the snow would still be very reliable. It turned out that we were wrong. Perhaps the influence of the nearby Pacific Ocean had an effect but certainly we found that from midday onwards the quality of the snow tended to become somewhat iffy. In future, if we returned, we would make sure to do so earlier in the season or else venture further inland, where the influence of the Pacific would be less likely to be felt.
Most of the skiing is tree-line, with really only Seventh Heaven being mostly open space. One of our favourite runs was Jersey Cream, just long enough to enjoy without killing your legs and with a return lift journey of just a few minutes. This particular area seemed to suffer the least from the effects of less than ideal weather conditions.
However, that said, we did enjoy the skiing, on both mountains (the trip across on the gondola is spectacular and not to be missed), mostly skiing Whistler in the mornings and Blackcomb in the afternoons, as the sun swung around to light each slope. There is certainly enough skiing to fill a week without too much repetition. So long as the weather is favourable, there are pistes galore to enjoy; we certainly didn't cover them all but that was for bad weather reasons only.
Whilst out on the slopes, mostly for lunches, snacks and drinks you will likely use one of the several very large, purpose built complexes, providing self-serve and fast food meals. The food is largely American style with some strange takes on "European" dishes. It mainly seems to be "chips" with everything, even in the case of dishes which we would normally associate with rice or pasta.
For something better you have either to go further up or right down. The "Up" is to Horstman's Hut, at the top of the ski area called Seventh Heaven. This is a very good destination, both for the skiing and for the food as these slopes seem to get the most of the sunshine. Horstman's Hut is just that; you find it to the left as you come off of the 7th Heaven Express chairlift. The views from here are spectacular.
Space inside is limited but you can also eat outside on the sundeck, if the weather permits. If it doesn't, you probably don't want to be up here at all anyway: the weather here can get ferocious, and I do mean it literally. The food is excellent and not unreasonably priced. I do recommend at least one visit.
The "Down" is the the oddly named "Garibaldi Lift Company" at the foot of Lower Olympic piste and right next to the Whistler Village Gondola. It's up a flight of steps although there is a lift as well. This is a much larger establishment. The food, though, was good and, once again, not exorbitant. They also have home-brewed beer which, whilst quite good, was neither true real ale nor true to their descriptions. Their "IPA" most definitely wasn't! Still, once again, recommended.
Clearly very new and almost entirely pedestrianised. Buses stop at the top of the village and you walk down a flight of steps to the main square and the bottom of the pistes and to access the gondolas to the upper slopes. From here you wind your way down through the middle of the village to access all the shops, bars and restaurants. However, there are also many on the outside of the village, facing onto the ring-road so, sticking to the centre of the village you will miss a number of other possible attractions.
At the bottom of the village is the Olympic Square, with the Olympic Rings which attract many photos. Just beyond is the Market Square, with what is really the only supermarket in town - the "Market Place". If you are self-catering then this will inevitably be your destination for supplies, all except alcohol. The supermarket is large and has just about everything else you could want.
For drink you have to cross the square to the Liquor Store. It seems that the sale of alcohol in Canada is restricted to dedicated outlets. However, the choice here is extensive, including locally produced wines, some of which we tried and found pretty good, if a tad expensive.
Even when self-catering, we like to try the local eateries as much as possible. Whistler has a lot of choice, both for drinks and for meals.
Dubh Linn Gate Irish Pub - Yes, even here, there's no getting away from the Irish Pub, but this one is definitely one you'll want to get away from! This is the first place you'll see as you enter the village from the bus station. My advice is, keep walking. We dropped in here for a nightcap on our way home from a meal elsewhere. The drinks came to £14 (!!!) for a whiskey and a red wine. I wouldn't have minded so much if the wine hadn't been distinctly mediocre. I have posted a fuller review on Tripadvisor.
The Brewhouse - If you want good drinks, including some pretty decent own-brew beers, good atmosphere, friendly service and reasonable prices, this is the place to go. It's down by Olympic Square. It's quite large and also serves decent meals, by the looks of the menu and by the packed tables, although we didn't have an opportunity to eat there ourselves. We did pop in for a drink several times though.
21 Steps - Definitely our favourite of all of the restaurants at which we ate. On a wet night we sat at a high table next to the second floor window, watching the [soggy] world go by below us, whilst we enjoyed an excellent meal with a good bottle of wine.
Black's - On the edge of the main square and diagonally opposite the Garibaldi Lift Company. We went there primarily because it has a first floor outside balcony from which we could watch the evening ski show on the slopes opposite, whilst we enjoyed a meal. It was a tad cold but the balcony has overhead heaters although you needed to be sitting at the inner tables in order to get the benefit of them. Once again, enjoyable food and not overly expensive. Unless you are watching a ski show though, I would recommend inside rather than out!
Earls - Nice atmosphere and reasonable food. We had lunch here one day, TexMex style. Enjoyable but there is better.
Mix by Rics - Our final meal of our stay in Whistler. Once again, very enjoyable but by far the most expensive. One of two restaurants under common ownership and with a good reputation locally. Probably one for a special occasion.
As I mentioned, this area has a history of occupation by local peoples, long before the Europeans discovered it. The Aboriginal Culture Centre, just on the outskirts of Whistler Village, is well worth a visit to see many artefacts of local tribal life. They also have a small cinema where you can watch some very interesting presentations on the area and the history of the interaction not only between the local tribes and the Europeans but also between the tribes themselves.
We enjoyed our visit to Whistler although, as mentioned, were we to return we would undoubtedly do so earlier in the ski season, so as to enjoy better quality snow conditions. Of course, the visit was an expensive one overall, due to the relative values of the Pound and the Canadian Dollar. Sadly it can no longer be said that to ski the other side of the pond is as good value for money as to ski Europe, and I suspect that will continue to be the case for many years to come. Still, I'm glad we did it, even if we never do it again.
Next stop - Vancouver.
I recently spent three weeks in Canada. Two of the weeks were spent around Vancouver, and when in Van you simply have to go to Whistler. So we spent a few days in the little resort.
Now I don't ski or snowboard, although I did have a go two of the days I was there. But don't think thats all there is to do in Whistler. Yes that's why it famous but there are so many other things to see and do.
While I was there I had a go at the Ziptrek, which is ziplines through the trees. Very good fun although a little pricey. In winter you can also do dog sledding, snow mobiling, snow shoeing, and many other activities. There is so much to keep an active person entertained.
If you do venture on to the slopes, this is the best resort in North America. Or so all the guides say. There are two mountains in Whistler. Whistler mountain and Blackcombe mountain. There are over a hundred runs on each mountain and the two are linked by the impressive peak 2 peak gondola which is an amazing ride! As I'm new to boarding I really have nothing to compare this place to, but I was very impressed with the way the hills were set out, its so easy to get around, everyone is very helpful and there is some stunning scenery up there.
As for Whistler itself, there is plenty to see and do. There are loads of bars and restraunts, something for everyone. There are tons of nice little shops to poke around in, lots of tourist places, loads of shops that were gearing up for the olypics while we were there, and there are about ten nice little art galleries you can browse round. There is also a cinema in town, and a few other interesting bits and pieces.
One of the things that struck me about Whistler is the lack of Canadians. Nearly everyone there is from Australia. Loads of young people come over to work for the season and the place has a really friendly and lively atmosphere about it. Nearly everyone we met was friendly and helpful, you can have a laugh with everyone you meet and there is just a magical buzz around the town.
There are plenty of places to stay in town. Lots of hotels, guest houses, and appartments. We stayed in a little apartment, which was ideal for our needs. The prices were quite high on some of the places we were looking at so you really need to shop around.
Overall the general prices in Whistler were about the same as the rest of Canada. Things didn't seem that much more expensive than anywhere else so that was a nice surprise.
A place I would recommend for eating is Mongo Grill. Its a stir fry place where you choose all your own ingredients and then they weight it and you pay for how heavy you meal is. Then they cook it in front of you. This was one of the best meals I had in Canada and it was a really good experience, although choose your ingredients wisely, my friend picked all sea food and his stir fry was pretty nasty!
Overall Whistler is a wonderful place. There is a magic in the air as you walk round. Everyone is so full of live and living each day to the full, you can almost sense an electricity in the air. If you ever get the chance to visit Whistler I strongly recommned it, its magic!
It has been thirty years since my hubby has seen his mom and I have never met her as we have only been together sixteen years. We speak every week on the phone but this year we have actually got the funds together and gone over to Canada for a week and met my mother in law of 93yrs young (she was fitter than me, lol). We visited in May 2009 and had a fantastic time with mom and seeing how beautiful Canada was, we stayed with mom in North Vancouver. As we were only there for a week we did a fair amount of family things and looked at a few local attractions; on a couple of days we went out to see some beautiful spots like Cypress Mountain, the Richmond Olympic Oval and Whistler. All these attractions will be hosting events during the winter Olympics of 2010; everywhere you went they were already selling Olympic memorabilia and cuddly mascots (which I thought were a little yuk, but it did mean that some of the cuddly mascots for Canada were reduced in price, bargain).
We left first thing in the morning around 0900hrs as it is a two hour drive along Highway 99 to get to Whistler Village and Mountain; at this point I have to say that the journey to and from Whistler is all part and parcel of the wonderful trip. As we travelled along Highway 99 we were greeted by some exceptional beauty as the views of the countryside and mountains came into view. As the road is so very wide you have a different view as you come back down it at the end of the visit. I was like a kid in a toy shop filled with excitement; it was just hubby and me in our lovely air conditioned hire car (which was also big and spacious) travelling along this lovely route. The snow capped mountains teasing as on the way getting larger and larger as we neared them. My other love is 'big' Lorries and the roads were full of them many coming down from Whistler with felled trees on the back. Canada has no shortage of trees and the majority of the houses are made of timber. We also drove past a couple of Indian Reservations on our way and a few eating spots if we needed to stop including a MacDonalds (they do get everywhere).
Even though there were road works at places, there was absolutely no road rage or pushing in like you get over here. Everyone was courteous and we moved steadily forward; the whole journey had an element of peace about it, probably from the beautiful scenery around you, it would be hard not to appreciate it and be captivated by its beauty.
After a couple of hours we saw the signs for Whistler Village which we were advised to head for; the village itself is very modern and very big, with hotels all over the place I saw at least 4-5 of them and loads of shops. We followed the signs for the car parks of which there are 3 large ones, but one was closed as there was some building work going on, probably building more ready for next year's Winter Olympics. The car park is not marked out into bays like over here; it was just a bit of land that people literally parked where they liked and even blocked you in at times or at least made it difficult to get out (I do hope they sort that out for next year). Some of the 4 x 4's are so large here; we actually saw one parked up on a bank as there was nowhere else to park. We didn't realise it at the time but we were visiting slightly out of their busy seasons and the car park was full.
After we parked up we headed into the village at this point not sure where we were going. We met someone on route and they directed us through the village to the top of the hill and we would be able to go up to the top of Whistler. We started our walk through the town and I know it was still morning but I was quite shocked how few people were about and a lot of the shops looked closed, but that didn't bother us as we were there for the mountain and maybe the odd little gift on the way back down to take home with us. We did stop half way through the village to have a cup of tea and a light lunch, which turned out to be a very large burger and fries and was by no means small or light. Whilst we were sitting there waiting for our food, two crows flew down onto the empty table next to us and stole the little uht milk cartons which had been left there. I was gobsmacked I have not known birds to come that close and get that cheeky before, but the waitress informed me that they do it quite often.
Completely rested and refreshed we walked a little further up the hill through the village of the shops centred around the sporting activities that you can do on whistler with the odd tourist gift shop slotted in. At the top of the village we paid to go on a gondola (this is a closed cable car) which would take us to the peak of Whistler; as they were doing repair work on the neighbouring mountain we could not take the peak to peak (I do hope to visit again one day and do this trip). We paid I think around 50 Canadian dollars for our tickets, but to be honest neither of us could remember exactly what we paid, I just remember thinking that it was a bit expensive.
We were told to hang our tickets on a belt, bag or something so that it is on display; you were given a tag to do this with. After doing this we were moved forward to join one of the two queues; one queue was for the foot passengers and skiers and the other one was for the mountain bikers as they were taking their bikes in the gondolas with them, we all loaded into alternated gondolas. Going up we could only see one way as we were one of five in our carriage: it had its perks though as they kindly took a picture of us together. Hubby soon forgot his fear of heights when his breath was taken away by the spectacular views. My only disappointment was most of the pictures going up were taken through and dirty and scratched Perspex window. You stop half way up to let the bikers off to get to the bike track. This doesn't take long and the door closed again and you are back on your way, to the top. I remember reading a sign saying it is over 6000ft up and my ears did pop twice, once on the journey up to the village and again in the gondola going up Whistler.
At the top of Whistler you get out of the gondola onto a platform which leads to an Alpine type cabin that houses a cafe, shop and toilets, the toilets were spacious and very clean, the shop was expensive and sold manly skiing items and a few tourist gifts and the cafe sold refreshments and a choice of foods, we didn't really investigate it much as we had not long eaten. There was also a lot of snow about and I was in a short sleeved top, which didn't bother me, but hubby said he was getting very cold. The skiers walk across the snow to another hut and onto the various trails where they either enjoy skiing or snowboarding. We left them to it and went around the viewing station to enjoy the magnificent views, snow was everywhere and you were looking down over hundreds and thousands of Alpine trees, it was totally amazing to look down at such beauty; you could even see beautiful lakes in the valley's and across to the other mountains. It is a beautiful memory that will stay with us for the rest of our days.
People were walking across the snow to a monument for a photo opportunity; we declined this as one I didn't have the right footwear on for snow walking, but also there was a big drop behind that monument and we didn't fancy getting that close to the edge. After staying a while and taking hundreds of photographs we got on a gondola to make our way back down; this time there was just the two of us, so we were both standing up and I had my camera out of the little window and was clicking away hoping to get great pictures (which I did). I even managed to get a picture of the track which will be used for the bob sleighing in the Olympics.
Now you would think that was the pinnacle of our trip and we would set off back to moms on another two hour drive; you would think that it would be a bit of a letdown after the beauty you have just experienced (remember you came along the same road to get here); well that is what I thought at the time, and like always you feel a little deflated having to leave such a beautiful place. The thing is I couldn't have been more wrong, on the way back from Whistler heading along Highway 99 towards Vancouver now we were entertained by even more spectacular and beautiful views; we got a close look at some beautiful lakes as we came down the mountain, my dear husband chauffeured me along the route giving me the ideal opportunity to get my camera pointing out of the window and leaving me to happily click away taking loads more photos and giving us some wonderful happy memories. I even noticed that we passed the Olympic rings on the landscape but sadly my camera missed them and I could not persuade my hubby to turn around. We also noticed on the way back a pickup truck with dog standing in the back of the truck, it just goes to show how safe and laid back the driving is over here; the UK could learn a lot from them with the approach to driving. There was only one pull in to take photos of the scenery along the route coming down from Whistler (well only one that we really noticed as too busy looking at the views). I had to laugh when we stopped at this spot to take pictures as we could not see very much of the beautiful lake at all due to too many trees, so it seemed a bit silly to have this as a viewing spot, but not to miss an opportunity we both took photos of each other with big grins on our faces and then went back to our journey.
We stopped again on the way back for a short break at one of the many cafes/restaurants along the route before heading back to moms, we got home around 5pm so we really did have a good day of it and to be honest if the peak to peak was up and running we would have been home even later, it truly was a magical day out that we both thoroughly enjoyed.
~~ Whistler and the Village~~
Whistler is renowned as one of the top four season resorts within North America, it will be used as a site of the Alpine and Nordic venues for the Winter Olympics of 2010 and the Paralympics Winter Games , I for one will be watching these saying 'I was there'.
It was originally called 'London Mountain' after the British weather of all things due to the fog and heavy rain it can suffer and apparently also after a mining claim in the area. At around 1965 the name was changed to 'Whistler' after the calls of a squirrel type animal called a Marmot which lives in the Alpine forests of the mountains and they are also known locally as 'whistlers' due to their whistling calls.
Whistler Mountain has a top elevation of 2,181m (7,156ft), the other mountain which is called Blackcomb is slightly bigger at 2240m (7349ft). Whistler has an annual snowfall of approx 30ft which is great for its winter sporting activities but it also hosts other activities as well, through its warmer times, like mountain biking, hiking, kayaking, canoeing and fishing. We were there in the spring and I felt it was quite warm; it averages around 11-15 degrees C (52-59 degrees F). It is a coastal area so temperatures can drop in the evenings.
During the summer months temperatures can fluctuate quite a lot (a bit like here really), they can be as low 9c (48f) up to around 23c (73f). As the autumn comes around the temperatures do start to drop dramatically to below freezing bringing cold rain and around November time you are likely to see the first snow falls. When winter sets in, it brings the snow and the temperature goes down to -6c to 0c (21-31f), but it can get a lot colder at the top of the mountains no matter what time of year you visit.
I mentioned the village earlier, but it wasn't until we were coming back through the village that we managed to get a guide map of the village itself, to be honest we were lucky to get this as all the information centres were closed, getting ready probably for the re-opening of Blackcomb Mountain. When I looked at the map I was quite surprised at how much the village had to offer, I mentioned a few hotels earlier, but looking at the map there were loads more than I originally thought. On our visit we stayed on the main road through the village, but there are lots of little side roads taking you to more shops and eating places, there is also an upper village as well on Blackcomb Mountain. There are also over 10 different places to eat so you are definitely spoiled for choice and if you do visit here I would recommend getting a copy of the map from one of the shops or the info booths if they are manned.
~~Peak to Peak~~
When you are at the top of the village you can either take gondola up to the top of Whistler Mountain or you can go up Blackcomb Mountain; each has a place for you to have a break with Blackcomb having its own little village for your perusal. When you are at the top of the one you can go peak to peak (sadly this was closed for repairs on the cables on Blackcomb Mountain during our visit). Peak to peak if a cable ride which spans 9921ft in a gondola going from Blackcomb Mountain across to Whistler and vice-versa. At times you actually travel two miles between the towers and this is actually the longest unsupported span of any lift of this type.
If you take one of the mountain walks you may be lucky enough to spot some of the wonderful wildlife that live in the forests and valleys, like the marmot, deer, pika (a rat type animal which is either grey or brown) and the famous brown bears; there are also lakes and creeks filled with fish like the kokanee salmon and some trout. They do ask though that you don't disturb or interfere with the wildlife and definitely do not feed them especially the brown bears and they do ask you to place your rubbish in the bear-proof garbage cans as the bears do have a tendency to try and pick up your scraps. There are signs around the trails so keep reminding you and help you on your ramble.
~~ For the Adventurous and the Sporty~~
Skiing and snowboarding - there are approx 200 marked trails for you to enjoy, catering for all levels from novices to the experienced, covering an area of approximately 3,300ha.
Whistler Adventure Zone - visit here and join in activities like paragliding, climbing wall, mini golf, horseback riding and a flying trapeze; this sounds exciting although we are not sporty enough to try them out.
Whistler Bungee - yes you can even experience a bungee jump, where you can drop 160ft (49m) down into the gorge, wow you won't find me brave enough to do that.
Ziptrek Ecotours - This is where you get strapped into a full body harness, it says on the site 'that you zoom across a series of five zip line cables that span the forest valley between Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. It is where you are flying along the air in a full body harnesses travelling over Fitzsimmons creek, this is not for the faint hearted.
Golf - there are four award-winning golf courses here, for those of you that enjoy a round or two of golf. They do advise you to book in advance especially during the summer months.
Mountain Biking - you can do cross country, free-riding, or downhill riding here, during the summer months they even open some of the ski trails for use with the bikes. They also play host to some popular biking events like the Kokanee Crankworx which is a premier bike festival held over nine days during August.
The bike park has 46 runs which stretch over 155 miles (250km) trails to suit all riders abilities; there are three skill centres, racing, drop-off, jump and slope-style parks; there is also an air dome which has a foam pit, resi-ramp and trampoline.
You can hire your bikes and gear here as well as booking lessons. From what I have researched about this I can only say that it appears that they offer everything to cater for all tastes in mountain biking.
Hiking - After the snow has thawed there are many hiking trails for the avid walker to explore; they offer Alpine trails, wildlife trails and guided trail tours. They also offer you practical advice and stock a good supply for all your catering needs, should you have forgotten any of your own kit.
If this is your activity then please take a look at the web site to be prepared www.WhistlerBlackcomb.com; again they offer trails for all levels of hiker from easy ones to advanced for the more experienced.
They do offer loads more, but I would go on and on forever; this place has so much to offer to suit everybody.
~~ How to Get there~~
Well firstly you need to get to Vancouver, Canada (we travelled with Thomas Cook), you can then go one of three ways, you can travel by car along Highway 99, or take a bus or even take the train, but you may wish to note that you cannot smoke or carry pets with you on any of these unless it is your own car and not a hire car. The train and bus do advise that you book in advance during busy periods as they can get booked up quite quick. Whatever way you decide to take I can guarantee that you will have a wonderful scenic route to Whistler.
I really enjoyed reliving this extra special day out and sharing it with you all; if you are ever fortunate enough to visit Vancouver, I would seriously recommend visiting here, the journey and the mountains were all outstanding and extremely beautiful. It is great for the average visitor like us, and for the more adventurous and sporty people out there as well. I was totally awe struck when I did my research for this review and saw what else it had to offer. I even had a weak moment and wished I was more active and sporty, lol; but it was only a moment.
Anyway thank you for reading and sharing my wonderful experience, I can only hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.
Whistler is North America's largest, and best ski resort. The resort comprises two mountains, Whistler and Blackcomb and its sheer size means that it caters for all levels of skiier, from gentle slopes for beginners to back-county style bowls for the more advanced and adventurous, including the infamous Spankys Ladder and the 3 'Gems'. Almost all of Whistlers shops/food outlets are run by one company, so any complaints can easily be directed. As far as accomodation is concerned, there is great variety, from large hotels to Europen style chalets. The local bus system is fast and reliable, although the same cannot be said for the underground boot rooms. These are hot, cramped and expensive, and does not provide an ideal end to the day. Instead it is advisable to, if at all possible, avoid these and take skis on the bus, or alternatively book a taxi. There are a large number of catering options in Whistler, the main offering being Glacier Creek on Blackcomb, a large 'multi-cuisine' food hall, providing everything from Stir-Fry to a cheeseburger. On Whistler, I would advise you to head to Beaver Tails, which sells various savoury and sweet pastries, which are both delicious and a novelty. As an extra activity, I would suggest going on a 'Ziptrek Ecotour', where you will fly between the two mountains at great speed. The main downside to Whistler is the long travel time, a 9 hour flight to Vancouver followed by a 2 and a half hour taxi journey to the resort. It is also more expensive than Europe, despite the strength of the euro, as the Candian Dollar is also very strong. Despite this, in my opinion, it compares favourably to many Alpine resorts, and is definately worth a visit.
We headed to Whistler for the first time this year. 'Is it all its cracked up to be?' I here you asking... mmm it depends what your looking for...
I'm a family man so we look for variety (terrain), convenience (ski schools, hotel location, local shops and restaurants etc) and quality service (everything from hotel staff to safe, well regulated slopes).
In short, Whistler suited our needs perfectly! The snow was decent considering it was so late in the season (May) and both mountains offered great variety for the kids, my wife and myself. The resort is essential one business owned by Intrawest (a few locally owned shops and bars remain, but competition is fierce!) , accordingly its exceptionally easy to sit back and let everything get organised for you. Ski hire, ski school, ski guiding, hotel, flights, food, everything! In this respect you can guarantee you get a quality service and things will run smoothly, but this assurance does not come cheap!
For those of you out there who have budgeted for a nice get away with the family and your not overly worried about the cost then this is a great resort for you. On the other hand, if your trying to keep costs down I would strongly advice against Whistler! Even the power of the English pound will not help you in this Canadian resort, things arent cheap!
We loved the place but the sheer cost of the trip makes me feel that a return visit may have to be put on hold for a special occasion....
Just returned from Whistler. Skied there for the first time after hearing lots of people talk about it as the greatest resort. When I checked this forum last year I was surprised that not more people had written about Whistler. Since then no one else has contributed so I'll now add my bit. We actually did not fly directly from the UK since we spent several days before and after in Philadelphia but even from Philly it was a treck. Travel duration from the UK is therefore definately a bummer. Lula153 has written a lot of useful stuff in in her op so I will not repeat any of it here, except that she is spot on with her description of the drive from Vancouver, etc. I will just give an update and my view on several issues. I booked the flight and hotel with expedia.com (using my US address) and that worked fine. I booked the bus, ski rental, ski tickets and ski lessons for the kids using the phone number given in the great www.whistler-blackcomb.com website. This worked out also good. The guy I got on the line was very helpful and when we arrived in Whistler we were in the computer and got all the equipment and passes without any hassle. The only thing no one told us was that we had to first visit 'Guest Relations' next to the Whistler gondola to pick up all the vouchers, etc. before visting the rental shop and ski school. The other thing which was somewhat a bummer was that my binding had not been properly set up: fortunately Salomon had a Demo tent at Blackcomb and set it up properly. I am therefore not a fan of the 'corporate' rental shop. We ended up with what we thought was a hotel but was actually a condo. Seems like these condos are the norm which was fine for us but one has to be able to cope with no hotel breakfast, no room service, etc. But there was a cooker, fridge, etc. We actually stayed at the Mountainside Lodge (tel 604-664 5643, web www.mountainsidelodge.ca) right near the Whistler
Gondola. The 'Lodge' has a pool and Jacuzzi outside which we used a lot even at 2100hrs. During our stay (circa 10th April for 4 days) the TELUS World Ski & Snowboard Festival was held in Whistler. This is a yearly event and the following is written about it: "With the well-established reputation as North America’s largest event of its kind, the TELUS World Ski & Snowboard Festival will this year feature the very best in ski and snowboard sporting events - complemented by the DKNY//JEANS LIVE Outdoor Concert Series and an explosive collection of photography and film events. For 10 full days, the Festival this year is jam-packed with events and activities on the mountains and in the village." This pretty much describes it: was quite good: saw a lot of good snow boarders in the half pipe and coming off high jumps. The latter while sitting in the 'Lodge's' Jacuzzi! The room at the Lodge was comfortable for the 4 of us: we had a gas fire place and the 2 kids slept in an interesting sofa bed. Across from the hotel there was also a good climbing centre where we spent some fun hours (excellent for kids!). The only disadvantage of the hotel was that the windows were very thin and let through a lot of noise between 0200 and 0400hrs when loud drunks in the street returned 'home'. So we had an interesting festival during April with lots of good music and boarders and there still was still lots of snow. During 2 days there was actually fresh powder on most of the mountains and I was able to ski every day back to the village (although most took the gondola's down since the snow was quite mushy). So skiing during early April is good - but one has to also expect rain (during the last afternoon I skied for 2 hours in rain showers and actually learned about the 'ski rain wiper' which one puts on his/her finger to wipe the rain of the goggles!). The other advantage during April are the demo days: one c
an demo anything: goggles, gloves, skis, boards, etc. I learned quite a lot about the ski school. This school is great and I am glad that I put both kids in there. My 9-year-old initially refused to go but now can't wait to go back. After he returned to his regular school he had THE story of the vacation: how his teacher did flips off jumps! My 5-year-old, who is usually very shy, also had a good time and progressed to the 3rd level. I must say that the organisation and effort in the kids ski school is second to none: brilliant! For 2 days I put my wife and myself also into ski school. One option they have are Super classes. These classes are restricted to max. 3 (vs. 8 in the regular classes). My wife ended both days with 2 other girls (who matched her level) and she was very pleased with the instructions she obtained (especially during the 2nd day). I ended up with a private teacher during the 2 morning sessions (since no one skied at my level) and then was joined every afternoon by one other skier. Was great since it was like a private lesson but did not have to pay as much! A lot of the skiers are taking these Super Group lessons actually with season tickets for only some CA$800 (which is an unbelievable deal)! This is especially a good deal for someone who wants to make major improvements during one season: spent a season in Whistler and take these Supergroup lessons! I had 2 very different teachers during the 2 days; the first one was circa 55 years old but together we really blasted down the mountains on the piste and down double diamonds. In the lift he then told me how he arrived in Whistler 25 years ago, joined the ski school as the 8th instructor (now they have 1200!), and bought a house a long time ago (which is worth a fortune now since they are trying to get the Olympics to Whistler in 2010). He knew the name of every gully and snow bowl and told me exactly how the whole area has been developed and who has invested! G
reat info! The next day the instructor was a young chap who did not own property but skies all year (mostly in Whistler but then in the summer for 12 weeks in Australia). He told me he learned a lot in Australia from the other instructor (who came from the Alps and elsewhere) and he ended up teaching me most than anyone lately, which was great! I skied with him fresh powder in the bowls, steep double diamonds in the clouds with little visibility, groomed slopes, bladed runs (full of trees), and difficult to ski spring snow and he gave me little tips for each. So all in all an excellent vacation but not as good as St. Anton. The reason I say this is that the ski school in St. Anton takes us deep off-piste where there is no one else around for miles while the Whistler - Blackcomb ski school is not allowed off piste (with good reason since some 27 had been killed by avalanches (and other ski related incidents) this season!). The other thing is that the Whistler village and the HUGE mountain lodges are too commercial for my liking. I like the Austrian 'gemuetlichkeit' and like to ski with my ski class to a small hut where a table has been reserved for us and where a waiter takes our order. In Whistler it is all self service and one has to stand in the queue to pay the bill. But as American I am thinking about retiring there since Vancouver is a very interesting international city, the snow fall in Whistler is second to none, and since the golf and mountain biking in the summer looks to be excellent! The scenery is also as good as in the Alps: I actually brought 4 super postcards with me which a put on the wall next to me PC and which now cheer me up daily!
If you're reading this and have been sent by another site apart from Dooyoo - please can you email me and tell me where you're coming from. Kenn to find out why I've had so many reads in the last week! firstname.lastname@example.org Whistler is very proud of its rating as North America's top ski resort, and so it should be. It offers some of the most varied and high quality terrain in the world. I've spent a few months snowboarding there over the last couple of years and thought I'd share a bit of info about the place. HOW TO GET THERE Whistler is a two to three hour drive from Vancouver along the gorgeous Highway 99. This journey is a treat in itself - hugging the shoreline of Puget Sound (which looks like the Scottish Highlands in many places), before heading into the mountains and through small logging communities. There are regular buses from Vancouver airport and from downtown Vancouver. The airport bus, the Perimeter Whistler Express is quite pricey - about £25 each way - but it does drop you off at your hotel. You should book this in advance by phone or on their website. However, if there are a few of you, it may be cheaper to get a stretch limo to take you Whistler - a very popular and glamorous way to start your holiday! THE MOUNTAINS There are actually two mountains to ski and ride in Whistler. Between them there are more than 7,000 acres of skiable terrain and more than 20 trails. Each one is so big you could spend a couple of weeks on it and still not try all the runs! Both mountains offer free escorted tours twice a day by locals to show intermediate and advanced skiers and snowboarders the best runs. Whistler mountain is more popular with visitors. It mas more easy runs, a faster gondola and a huge beginner's area half way up the mountain. If you go to the very top of Whistler (on the scary, almost vertical Peak Chair) you get the most amazing views over the u
ntouched glaciers and snowfields behind the resorts. It is well catered for with a huge selection of restaurants and cute hut-hideaways so you're never too far away from a warming hot chocolate! Blackcomb tends to attract more locals and snowboarders. It is a bit more challenging but tends to be groomed less - meaning lots of lovely pow pow for us snowboarders! It also has a huge, fantastic terrain park. The t-bar runs at the top of the mountain are usually untouched after a big dump and offer easy access to some fantastic snow. There's also the Blackcomb glacier which offers year round skiing and always has a decent snowpack, regardless of conditions elsewhere on the mountain. It is, however, the first thing to close when visibility gets really bad. If you're looking for something a bit more adventurous, the off piste terrain is the best in the world. Heliskiing is huge (and hugely expensive) and you can hire local guides by the day to show you the best of the backcountry. There are also daily free avalanche awareness courses. It's really worth spending a couple of hours at one of these before going backcountry - it could save your life. RENTALS Basic and high quality rentals are available from the resort itself and at a large number of rental and retail shops. Many offer trial days when you can try out a few pairs of the latest skis or snowboards throughout the day (they'll store them at the top of the mountain for you) and then they'll knock the rental price off the cost of the equipment if you decide to buy it. That, and the demo days held in April, are a great way to test the latest equipment before investing. LESSONS The ski and snowboard schools are huge and highly popular so it's best to book in advance if you can. They cater for all levels, from complete beginners to professionals wanting to perfect their technique. The kids school looks especially fun - they have their own t
eaching areas and buildings. You can buy lessons by the day or half day. There are also packages including hire and lift passes which can work out pretty cheaply. A group day lesson usually costs around £50 but it's worth checking out the resort's website for the full range of deals. I can also highly recommend their clinics (especially the female only Roxy snowboarders camp) for experienced skiers and snowboarders - they use video tuition and it's really useful (and weird) seeing yourself on screen! LIFT PASSES Passes in Whistler are more expensive than in Europe but cheaper than many places in the US. A one day pass for both mountains costs about £30 but it obviously works out cheaper if you buy one covering several days. Check out their website for a full list. The lift queues tend not to be too bad (apart from the busy school holidays) and they employ singers to entertain you while you wait! OFF THE SLOPES If you fancy a day off your plank(s), then there are some other great things to do. Snowmobiling tours are really exciting and fun (but expensive). There are also a wide range of companies offering snowshoeing tours and sled-rides. I can also recommend trying out cross country skiing at the nordic skiing centre - keeps you very fit! ACCOMMODATION Whistler has everything from five star hotels such as the luxury Chateau Whistler down to hostels like the Shoestring Lodge where you can get a bed for about $30 a night. Chalet deals are only just starting to take off in Canada so most people opt for self-catering apartments. Again, there's a huge range - many with their own pools and hot tubs. GETTING AROUND There's a free bus service operating round Whistler village (which is actually pretty spread out) but you do have to pay to get to some of the further out residential areas. Many hotels and complexes have their own shuttle buses and there's an excellent
taxi service. SHOPPING Needless to say, the range of ski and snowboard equipment on offer is huge. It's all much cheaper than in the UK (try the end of season sales for the best bargains) and the staff really know their stuff. It's a great place to get some properly fitted boots as fitters in the Whistler stores are used to looking after professional and Olympic athletes. There are also a huge number of gift shops selling Cuban cigars (for the American visitors), Canadian nonsense and local art. High street stores like the Gap, Guess and Lush have also made their way into the village. FOOD Since visitors to Whistler come from a huge range of countries, there is an equally varied range of places to eat. There are a couple of great sushi restaurants (Whistler is HUGE with the Japanese), lots of Italian places and a few really swanky places which will set you back hundreds of pounds. There are some great, cheap cafes though and (of course) the usual McDonalds, Starbucks, Subway and Domino's Pizza set. NIGHTLIFE Whistler is a great place to party if you have any energy left at the end of the day. There are numerous bars and pubs - ranging from posh hotel bars to Irish pubs and scruffy local haunts. My favourites are Cittas (popular with locals, quiet and serves great food) and the Garibaldi Lift Company (GLC) which you can ride/ski into at the end of the day for a beer and a huge plate of nachos. The legal drinking age in Canada is 19 (they can be strict) and you can't smoke in most bars now due to new legislation. However you can smoke on the patios - many bars have those big gas heaters). Most bars have specials on certain drinks every night so make sure you ask for the best deals. There are a few clubs in town too - Maxx Fish is the main snowboarder haunt (regular hip-hop and drum and bass nights). Garfinkels plays a bit of everything (locals night on a Thursday is particul
arly wild) while it's grab-a-granny-night every night at Buffalo Bills. Tommy Africas, with its African beach hut interior and go-go dancers is also pretty cool - it has a great, packed 80's night very Monday. If you fancy a quieter night, there's a cinema, theatre and a couple of video shops. The local recreation centre is also a great, cheap place to relax - you can have a swim, ice-skating session, sauna and jacuzzi for about £5. USEFUL WEBSITES www.whistlerblackcomb.com - The resort's official site - has some great webcams and all the information you'll need to plan a visit www.piquenewsmagazine.com - Very modern and informative local newspaper (I used to work there!) www.whistler.net - community information and news I'll shut up now but if there's anything more specific you want to know, drop me a line. Enjoy!
I’m a native Canadian and used to live in Vancouver, which is under 2 hours by car from Whister/Blackomb Resort. Blackomb is the mountain that is just next to whistler and you can get a lift ticket that is good for both. I prefer the runs on Blackcomb. This is not only a Ski resort, but is also a great place (and cheaper) to visit other times of the year especially the heart of summer. But since this is the ski section, lets start with that. The lift tickets here are expensive as are the hotels but if you factor in that the Pound is worth $2.40 Canadian at the moment you can divide the cost of everything by more than half. A day lift ticket will cost around CDN $60 which is only £25. Not bad for a ski resort that was voted the best in the world by a top skiing magazine for a few years running. If you are really keen, you can ski the glaciers all year round! The winter scenery is fantastic and there are endless runs of all levels to work your way through. You will find hotels that range from 5 star down to the local Youth Hostel, which is a gas so I hear. You can also rent a condo with a kitchen to be fully equipped to do your own cooking. If you prefer to eat out there are restaurants for every taste. This is one of my favourite things about Whistler, the restaurant choice is amazing. There is even an amazing Thai restaurant. I used to work in Whistler with corporate groups and there is an endless amount of activities to partake in. Other than skiing, you can rent snowshoes, snowmobiles or find a big slope to go tobogganing. If you are a novice on the slopes there are instructors for skiing and snowboarding that will have you on your way starting on the “bunny slope”. I almost prefer summer in Whistler as the mountain flowers coat the mountainsides and there are even more activities to keep you as busy or not as you want to be. There is a bike and roller blade path that seems to go on forever, horseback ri
ding in the mountains, jet boating or river rafting on the rapids, mountain bike mountain descent (aaaahhhhh!) etc… This is an outdoor lovers paradise. The drive from Vancouver to Whistler can be a bit treacherous in the winter mostly because of the psycho’s that whip up from Vancouver for the day and drive like bats out of hell as they “think” they know the roads so well. But the scenery is spectacular with views of lakes and glaciers along the way. The "apres-ski scene" is fantastic as is the nightlife.
this is traditionally a winter resort for the ski lovers, but i went in ocotober, and althought there was't any snow, and the weather was quite warm, i really enjoyed the village and surroundings. i went atv riding up a mountain looking for bears, which we did't see. this is a motor bike on 4 huge tyres, and althought it was my first time it was a woinderful, terrifying experience. we also went horse riding in the local meadows, with expert horse guides, and helmets are provided. the hotels are built in this newish village, with fantastic shops, cafes and restaurants. the peole are friendly and the area, wherever you go, is spotless.....this place is alot cheaper at this time than in the winter period
Whistler Mountain is a peak in the Fitzsimmons Range on the edge of Garibaldi Provincial Park, and the location of the Whistler-Blackcomb ski resort and the town of Whistler, British Columbia. Over two million people visit Whistler annually, primarily for its world-famous alpine skiing and mountain biking at Whistler-Blackcomb.