Considered one of Canada’s top getaways, the resort town of Whistler, British Columbia is the ultimate outdoor escape. Best known as the host of the 2010 Winter Olympics, the village welcomes millions of visitors each year who travel up the Sea to Sky Highway to enjoy the epic ski hills during winter and activities like mountain biking and hiking in warmer months. Its proximity to Vancouver, mesmerizing views, luxurious chalets and culinary scene combine to make Whistler one of the country’s ritzier spots, making it the perfect place for a glam getaway.
Where to stay in Whistler
When it comes to luxe lodging, one of the best hotels in Whistler is the Fairmont Chateau Whistler. Its enviable location in the upper village at the base of the mountain makes it a prime pick for ski-in ski-out accommodation, is family-friendly, and the Fairmont even has ski valets who greet guests with a steaming cup of hot cocoa at the end of the day and take care of their equipment.
Be sure to reserve one of their inviting Alpine Suites, which boast the best mountain views and come complete with a separate sitting room, fireplace and modern bathrooms with rainforest spa showers.
Being a resort, the Fairmont Chateau Whistler also has plenty of activities to keep guests occupied, including a well-equipped gym, sprawling pool area with comfy loungers and poolside drink service, eucalyptus-infused steam rooms and tennis courts. It’s also worth taking advantage of the Whistler Experience Guide, where guests can sign up for a variety of daily guided activities including hikes, ski trips, watersports, cycling, and even trampolining or brewery tours. Click here to book
What to do in Whistler
Skiing in Whistler
No trip to Whistler (at least during winter) is complete without hitting the ski hill, so head to Whistler Blackcomb which is ranked as one of North America’s top ski resorts. With more than eight-thousand acres spread over two mountains, the varied terrain offers something for snow-seekers of all levels. Enjoy a premium experience by hiring a private guide to tip you off about where to find the best champagne powder and viewpoints, and get you priority access at the chairlifts. For a bucket list-worthy experience, book a cat-skiing, backcountry or heli-skiing experience to spend the day making fresh tracks on a glacier.
Those who happen to time their visit during spring will love the party atmosphere that comes with the hot weather: think patio parties, snowboarders hitting the slopes in shorts or bikini tops, and apres-ski surrounded by tulips instead of snowbanks.
The Whistler and Blackcomb peaks are linked by the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola, which operates year-round and is used to shuttle hikers in the summer months. Granting panoramic views of Whistler Village, alpine meadows, craggy peaks and glaciers, it’s the ultimate way to soak in the scenery.
Admire Whistler’s million-dollar views by hitting one of the many trails in and around town for a hike. With routes to accommodate all skill levels, it’s easy to knock off popular trails like the Ancient Cedars Loop or Rainbow Lake Trail in just an hour or two, while more challenging treks up to the iconic Black Tusk or Wedgemount Lake take a full day.
If you only have time for one, go with the memorable Train Wreck Trail. This easy walk winds through a serene, moss-covered forest, leading hikers over a photogenic suspension bridge before arriving at a group of vibrantly-painted box cars that have sat in the forest since the 1950s.
Travel like a one-percenter by exploring from the air. There are a few different options for flight-seeing tours in Whistler by both float plane and helicopter, which offer a birds-eye vantage point of the piercing turquoise lakes, snow-covered peaks, lush valleys and winding rivers that British Columbia is famous for. Up the ante by arranging to be dropped off right on a glacier for a picnic lunch, or enjoy a heli-hiking, heli-snowmobiling, snowbiking or ice caving expedition. Click here to book
Golfing in Whistler
Boasting a handful of championship golf courses including the Fairmont Chateau Whistler Golf Club, Whistler is one of Canada’s premiere golf destinations. In fact, the Whistler Golf Club and the Nicklaus North Golf Club were designed by golf legends Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, respectively. Players tee off in the shade of the towering mountain peaks, spending the day on fairways and greens lined by the likes of granite rock faces, babbling brooks and old-growth forests. Those who hit the links in May can even take advantage of the great weather and enjoy a multi-sport day by going skiing in the morning and heading to the course in the afternoon.
There are few luxuries in life greater than some R&R, so pamper yourself at one of the top spas in Whistler. A memorable option is Scandinave, which is nestled in a cedar and spruce forest making in the perfect place to unwind while soaking in the surrounding mountain views. Scandinave is based around the Scandinavian tradition of hydrotherapy which sees guests alternate between hot and cold treatments to increase circulation and energy. For the ultimate indulgence, book a full spa package which includes treatments like a deep tissue massage, before relaxing under the Nordic waterfall, inside the Finnish sauna or around one of the outdoor fireplaces.
Another luxe pick is The Spa at Nita Lake Lodge, which is found inside the gorgeous lakeside wellness resort. It offers yoga, roof top hot tubs, a eucalyptus-infused steam room and naturopathic services alongside treatments like rejuvenating body scrubs and hot stone massages.
No ski day is complete without some apres, and Whistler has plenty of spots to please the palate. One standout is Bearfoot Bistro, which serves up champagne in illuminated ice, as well as vodka flights in the sub-zero Ketel One Ice Room. Guests are outfitted with chic Canada Goose parkas, before sipping on a global array of spirits in the world’s coldest vodka taste room. Other crowd-pleasers include Araxi Restaurant + Bar which is known for its seasonal menus curated with locally-sourced ingredients, and the Mallard Lounge found in the iconic Fairmont Chateau Whistler at the base of Blackcomb Mountain.
Treat yourself to a shopping spree in Whistler’s village centre or upper village, where there are plenty of great boutiques to pop into. ARC’TERYX and Eddie Bauer will get you geared up, L’Occitane En Provence and Lush are great for pampering, and Aritzia and Lululemon are Canadian brands popular with fashionistas. Best of all, it will give you chance to explore more of the charming, pedestrian-only areas which are sure to make you feel like you’re on a vacation that you never want to end.
How to get to Whistler
Whistler is one of the best Vancouver day trips, as it’s only a two hour drive from the city, and the Seattle, Bellingham and Vancouver airports are the closest gateways. Shuttles regularly travel the gorgeously scenic Sea to Sky Highway between the Vancouver airport and Whistler which takes two hours, but if you’re looking to arrive in style there are a few other options:
- Private driver: A number of executive car services operate out of the Vancouver airport, which will whisk you straight from the arrivals area to the mountains in a stretch limo—fully stocked with champagne, naturally.
- Rental car: In the mood for a road trip? Sea to Sky Exotic offers luxury car rentals in both Calgary and Vancouver, and their high-end fleet includes Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Maseratis, Range Rovers and Jaguars. A fun way to explore Whistler and the surrounding area is to book a Porsche Driving Experience, where you’ll jump behind the wheel of a luxury Porsche and head off on a three-hour journey to explore some of the area’s most photogenic spots.
- Helicopter: The spectacular mountain views are best seen from the air, so hop in a helicopter for a luxe transfer. The scenic flight takes about 30 minutes, and pick-ups are also available at the Vancouver Harbour.
- Float plane: Seasonal float plane transfers are available from May through September, which will see you soar over mountain peaks and shimmering lakes en route to the alpine town. Float plane transfers are available from both Vancouver and Victoria. Click here to book
Globe Guide explored Whistler as a guest of Tourism Whistler and the Fairmont Chateau Whistler. As always, hosts have no editorial influence on articles.
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