Whistler Ski Holiday Resort
Think of a ski resort that has it all and that resort will be Whistler. Situated on the coastal range of the Rockies, Whistler is the largest ski area in North America with the highest vertical. The skiing is truly suited to all abilities from total novices to extreme ski professionals. The resort is a straight forward 2 hours drive from Vancouver along the Sea to Sky highway. The periphery of Whistler is adorned with large private chalets or condos and the centre is equally matched with up market hotels, boutiques, and leisure facilities. Essentially, central Whistler is pretty much traffic free with a main promenade from the North Village to the slopes being a heated pedestrianised thoroughfare. Whistler's ski season will commence in late November and run through until May. In fact, they usually keep either Whistler or Blackcomb mountain open until June or even July alternating each year between the two mountains.
The lift system is state of the art with friendly "lifties" offering advice on the best runs served by that lift via chalk board displays. Queues can be a slight problem and certainly the density of skiers is a lot greater than in some North American resorts, however, if you are making comparisons with Europe then you will find it is really of no problem at all. The resort height isn't great at but you are so much further north than the Alps that this isn't an issue. One thing is that there are an abundance of tree lined runs, forest, and great glade skiing which is in contrast to some of Europe's lunar landscape resorts. Because of the vertical and Whistler's coastal location it is often possible to have cloud coverage in the village and a grey flat light but one ride up on the gondola and you can be in bright sunshine or powder-heaven.
First time skiers and early learners are cared for to a very high level here with nursery slope facilities at the bases of both Whistler and Blackcomb mountains plus both have areas at their respective midway stations. Both mountains have a great selection of green and blue runs all over them and more importantly, into the villages themselves.
Intermediates will find Whistler paradise with a huge variety of all standard of piste and off piste. Jersey Crean and Rock n Roll are great runs for a blast. The Dave Murray downhill is a superbly fast run into Whistler Creekside and for intermmediates wanting to cut their teeth on the off-piste and powder then head straight to Seventh Heaven. Here you can spend days dropping in to the glade skiing and chancing your arm on the wonderful Xhiggy's Meadow. For good black diamond challenges then head off to Dakine Quasar, or the Heavenly bowl. On Whistler Mountain dip into the Symphony Amphitheatre for great powder days.
Experts are completely spoilt for choice, and if the truth be told if we covered everything that Whistler had to offer we would have written a book by now. Our advice is to buy a book as there is no way that in 1 week you will get to proper grips with all this five star resort can throw at you. Snowfinders' Nick particularly rates the delights of Blackcomb Mountain and he loves Spanky's Ladder but struggled his way down the 41 degree beast famously known as Couloir Extreme. The truth be known he's a bit of a flat track bully so loves the Everglades and the four blacks that run back onto Sunset Boulevard. Over on Whistler Mountain The Whistler bowl has it all with an immense array of black and double black runs. experts willing to dip under the wire will find amazing back country accessed by heli-skiing and cat-skiing operations.
Terrain parks are numerous and range from novice standards through to expert/professional. There is the famous M-L Nintendo Park but the most notorious is the Highest Level Park which requires the willing and press-ganged alike to hold a license plus sign a disclaimer - it really is that stupidly extreme!
Boarders have few problems with the draglifts as they are few and far between with the exception of the Blackcomb glacier and even here they are very tame. The powder, groomers, and fun parks mean that Whistler is, once again, a top destination for the informed and in-form boarder.
For non-skiers there is the sports centre and various spa facilities, the usual dogsledding and snowmobiling, snowshoeing, zip wire, guided walks and trails etc. Many of the swanky 4 and 5 star hotels (of which seem in endless supply) have fantastic spa facilities with heated pools, hottubs, hammans, and therapy treatments. The town is also adorned with retail therapy from high street shops such as Gap to small designer boutiques. Gift shops are numerous and are frequently interspersed with coffee shops, cafes, bars, clubs, sport shops and all manner of retail premises - rather like any modern town centre.
It seems like Whistler is blessed with hundreds of restaurants and takeaways from cheap and cheerful burger/hot dog outlets (Zogs) to Chinese and Asian themed diners and then to the high class eateries such as Hy's Steakhouse and the fantastic Araxi. Of couse, all of the bars and hotels provide food and a night's dining can be as relaxed or as formal as your mood suits.
Apres ski in Whistler is a huge puller and we brits love the nightlife. For a more relaxed experience The Mallard bar within the Chateau is a great venue for cocktails and sophistication. The Fifty Two 80 bar within the Four Season hotel is great for comfy sofas and relaxing with one of their famous signature Martinis. The GLC is perfect for people watching and even has a ski display on sunday evenings owing to its slopeside location on Whistler Mountain.
Merlin`s is a great spot on Blackcomb for apres immediately after the lifts closing with live music and a stand up mike and bar-top dancing. Unusually it allows kids until 7pm so this is great for young families to apres together whilst mum and dad knock back a few of Keith`s beers. Late night and Whistler pumps up the volume rocking into the small hours with club after club. It's the only resort we know that has different clubs for dance, rock, indie, house etc. Clubs and late night bars also include (to name just a few) The Savage Beagle, Garfinkle's, Tommy Africas, Buffalo Bills, Longhorn, Tapleys, Dubh Linn Gate, Amsterdams, and the Crystal Lounge. The list goes on and is endless but whatever your mood you will find a watering hole in Whistler tailor made for you!
You don't come to Whistler to get a sun tan, you come to ski and party. Quite simply there is no other resort in North America like it and that is why it is the Brit's number one North American ski destination. If you’ve never been, give it a go you won’t be disappointed.