In Whistler, there are so many activities to pursue, it can be hard to find time to sit down, let alone time to sit down for a good meal. But the food at this Olympic resort is so wonderful that you could just as easily spend a long weekend here and have difficulty finding time for the activities.
If you want to experience some mountain fun you have lots of options. Put yourself in the good hands of The Adventure Group.
In winter they’ll have you snowmobiling, snowshoeing or heli-skiing. Never snowmobiled? Neither had I — but it was surprisingly easy to learn how to control the powerful sled and in no time I was scalloping around trees and skimming up and down steep slopes (I wasn’t quite brave enough to try the jumps, though). If you’re in Whistler before the snow falls and want some fast-paced fun, you must try The Adventure Group’s all-terrain RZRs. In these two- and four-seater machines, you can zip through the forest, over obstacles and get surprisingly dusty while asserting your need for power.
Wedge Rafting is the place to go if you want to cool down in the warm Whistler summers. You’ll admire the mountains from a medium or fast river, both equipped with adrenaline-surging whitewater. You (probably) won’t get soaked, but just feel refreshed from the light spray as you turn through whirlpools and rapids. At my next Whistler trip I’m keen to try The Adventure Group’s bungee jumping — assuming I can keep my eyes open during the fall to admire the views!
Choosing where to stay in Whistler can be easily guided by your stomach, as well as how close you want to be to your outdoor activity of choice.
If you have a sweet tooth, Summit Lodge Boutique Hotel Whistler will satisfy your craving. This charming boutique hotel has candies at the front desk for pick-me-ups, as well as a specialty coffee station where you can adorn your flavoured coffee with whipped cream and sprinkles, if you so desire. You will need something a bit more substantial, especially if you spend the day at their pool or if you want to explore the village by bike (free one hour rental for guests). Luckily one of my very favourite Whistler restaurants is very close by — Elements Urban Tapas Parlour.
Summit Lodge is just a seven minute walk to the slopes (or you can take the free shuttle in the winter), though it will be hard to leave the comforts of your boutique room and the ultra friendly staff in this little hotel that has thought of everything to make their guests happy.
And if you want to get a little closer to Whistler’s activities, although not quite close enough to break a sweat?
I recommend settling into the Pan Pacific Whistler. From your slopeside suite or from the pool deck at the Mountainside location, and from the patio of the Dubh Linn Gate Pub, you’ll have the perfect view of the summer mountain bikers and winter skiers as they come down the mountain and make turns right in front of you to board the Excalibur gondola and the Fitzsimmons express chair. At the pub, chat up your neighbours and you’ll be ready with vacation stories about the mountain conditions without ever having to leave the company of your expertly poured Guinness or any of the delicious Irish pub fare. Both Pan Pacific Village Centre and Mountainside locations provide all suites with fully-equipped kitchens, as well as the always excellent Pan Pacific service. And of course there is a ski and bike valet, if you choose to be more energetic.
If you like your exercise of the wet variety, both Pan Pacific locations have long pools ideal for swimming. And of course they have hot tubs, a steam room and a sauna to soothe your tired muscles if you’ve done a bit too much on the slopes. If your body is really aching, you’ll also appreciate a few hours at Scandinave Spa‘s luxurious and quiet outdoor hot pools, steam bath, dry sauna, cold plunge pools and rest areas — the ideal way to rejuvenate while enjoying Whister’s spectacular scenery.
You might want to spend your outdoor time in Whistler doing something which won’t be hard on your aching knees, but is high on the adrenaline meter.
How about bobsleigh? Yes, at the Whistler Sliding Centre civilians like you and I can bobsleigh down Whistler’s Olympic track, in both winter and summer. The bravest amongst us can even tackle the track via skeleton in the winter. This is a must try!
If you like your adrenaline served up with a smoother ride, head over to Superfly Ziplines on Cougar Mountain for year-round soaring surrounded by Whistler’s stunning views.
After flying down the zipline at 100 km/h or the bobsleigh track at 125km/h, you might want a dinner looking over the serenely calm Nita Lake.
You won’t be disappointed with Nita Lake Lodge’s Aura or, even more relaxed, their Cure Lounge and Patio. Food here is predominantly local. Sometimes the menu even features freshly foraged foods from in and around Whistler. Cattails, fir shoots, or black trumpet mushrooms, anyone? Surprisingly delicious! Nita Lake Lodge’s accommodations are all-suites in a boutique hotel setting. The Lodge is at Whistler Creekside, just a five-minute shuttle-ride away from the hustle and bustle of the main village, so your lakeside stay will be quiet and relaxed.
Another hotel with great food is the Fairmont Chateau Whistler. It’s in a quieter part of Whistler village, and the hotel is ideally situated so that you can ski in and out without having to lug any gear (assuming you’re not planning to spend your entire stay at the dining table!).
The best place to stay at the Fairmont is the Gold Floor — a boutique hotel within a hotel — with exceptional service and upgraded suites. However, you will then face the challenge of choosing between breakfast in The Wildflower Restaurant (phenomenal eggs Benedict) or selecting from the surprisingly large buffet in the Gold Lounge. Despite the pull of the mountains, don’t stray too far from the hotel, because the Gold Floor’s all-day snacks and evening canapés and desserts are too good to skip.
If you do pull yourself away to get atop Whistler or Blackcomb mountain (or both, via the Peak 2 Peak Gondola), an ideal way to end a day burning calories hiking, skiing or snowboarding is with a steak.
Whistler’s best steaks are found at Sidecut Modern Steak + Bar, in the Four Seasons Resort. A sidecut is the curve on the side of a ski or snowboard. By dining here — even if you don’t get out on the slopes during your stay — you can still speak with snowy authority.
At Sidecut, Alberta beef is cooked to perfection on the restaurant’s 1800 degree infrared grill, and you can spice it up with their signature sauces and custom rubs. Not into steak? Don’t despair; their lamb, poultry, seafood and vegetarian dishes — and cocktails — are all exceptional too.
Which do you prefer — Whistler’s dining or outdoor activities? Or do you need to keep returning to make sure you achieve the perfect balance between them?