Location: Most famously known as just Whistler, Whistler and Blackcomb are two mountains that sit side by side and make up Canada’s biggest resort. Together they make up a whopping 8,171 acres of terrain, split between pisted runs, Alpine bowls and glaciers.
Whistler Village is at the base of Whistler, the hub of the village is a compact, chalet-style, pedestrian-only mountain village that is overflowing with hotels, restaurants and shops. The village sports a L’Occitaine, The Gap, Lululemon and other small boutiques, as well as a ‘necessities’ area with a supermarket, liquor store and pharmacy – so shopping wise, you have all bases covered.
Getting there: One of the reasons for Whistler’s fame with skiers and non-skiers alike is its accessibility. Visitors fly into Vancouver and from there it’s a quick 2-2.5 hour drive up to the mountain. Many choose to rent cars which is recommended if staying outside of the village as the drive is relatively easy. There are also innumerable car services with vans large enough to carry the whole family and their gear that will drop you at your door. Buses from downtown Vancouver or the airport go regularly too.
Where to stay: Whistler/Blackcomb has everything to offer so it’s down to personal preference whether guests want to stay in the thick of it inside the village, if you want to be a little bit further out where is quieter; or perhaps on the mountain?
If you want to stay in the thick of it, inside the village, then The Westin Resort & Spa is where you should base yourself. The hotel is just steps away from the gondola to whizz you straight up the mountain and guests are accommodated in spacious one- or two-bedroom suites. The hotel also has an indoor/outdoor pool, hot tubs, a fitness centre and a spa.
Whistler Village does in fact have a nightlife and après ski can go on for quite a while so if you’re looking to be away from the buzz then head outside of the village and stay at the Aava Hotel. Just a few extra steps away from the gondolas.
Alternatively, the Fairmont Chateau Whistler is always an excellent choice and is neither on the hill nor in the centre of town, but has very easy access to both.
Highlights: When there is a large dumping of snow 7th Heaven is the place to be. 7th Heaven is a wide, gentle bowl that starts above the trees and descends into them. It can also be traversed to reach some great pitches. Make sure to be there when it opens though – skiers flock to it after fresh snow. The rest of the bowls are also superb on a powder day. To make the most of a powder day, we’d highly recommend doing Fresh Tracks – you enjoy a cooked buffet breakfast at the Roundhouse Lodge before taking advantage of the fresh powder and the perfectly groomed pistes before the mountain is open to the public. Win, win!
Downsides: Being one of the most famous resorts in the world is itself one of the downsides. During the high season and on weekends it can get very busy (with Vancouvians heading up for a weekend ski). Sometimes the lift queues can take up to 20 minutes at the base of the mountain, however it is a large enough mountain that once through the first few funnels, skiers are spread out between numerous areas.
Best piste run: Heavenly Basin off the Glacier Express chair on Blackcomb is one of the best pisted runs. It holds its powder really well so on a snow day it’s fantastic for some bumps – and the runs that surround it are fantastic too so it’s great to spend a couple of hours exploring this area.
Best off piste run: Spanky’s Ladder has some of the best off piste Whistler has to offer. Spanky’s Ladder is a trail that leads off of a chairlift on Blackcomb Mountain that skiers climb up to access the untracked Garnet, Ruby, Diamond and Sapphire Bowls on the other side.
Best mountain restaurant: The Chic Pea at the top of the Garbonzo Express chair is the best for mountain food. It is a quick service restaurant which serves similar food to the other mountainside lodges, but has a focus on warm soups and sandwiches and healthy salads. It is also much smaller and quieter (some of the lunch lodges can seat over 100) but that does mean it fills up quickly!
Best restaurant in town: When in western Canada, it is an absolute must to have fish, especially salmon. British Columbia has some of the best wild sockeye salmon in the world and with such easy access to the coast Whistler has it in abundance. With that in mind, sushi in the tiny village is excellent; Nagomi Sushi is a great place for a meal as their rolls are always fresh, use high quality ingredients and offer a very quick take away service. For wood-fire pizza – head to Pizza Antico. And for our favourite farm-to-table dining experience check out Araxi Restaurant & Oyster Bar, there’s a reason why it’s been voted the number 1 best restaurant in Whistler consecutively for the last 10 years.