Whistler is a charming village built by, and for, those in the pursuit of outdoor activities. The mountain’s potential quickly attracted attention for its skiing and hiking opportunities, fast developing into the world class ski resort it is today. Here is how to experience this quaint alpine village like a local, with ideas on where to sleep, eat, drink, après and ski.
Whistler Blackcomb, Canada, is consistently rated as one of the best ski resorts on earth. It is also one of the largest, with over 200 trails across the two mountains, and has one of the longest seasons, running from November-May, thanks to its northerly location and high altitude.
A diverse range of runs are on offer from perfectly groomed pistes, to intrepid powder runs and glacier skiing in the summer (June and July), included here are a few not to miss (skill dependant of course).
At the end of a long day on the slopes submerge in the heated outdoor pool at the Delta Village Suites (4308 Main Street) and watch darkness fall over Whistler Mountain. Two outdoor hot tubs accompany the pool, with another located inside, along with a sauna and gym. The well-appointed rooms come equipped with kitchen, gas fireplace and smart TVs. Affinity Ski Rentals has a branch located in the hotel lobby, where guests are able to store their own skis free of charge.
The Four Seasons Resort (4591 Blackcomb Way), located a little out of Whistler Village, is a luxurious stay. Rooms are traditionally decorated with wood-panelled feature walls, open gas fires and leather and tartan soft-furnishings, combining to create a cosy atmosphere. Amenities included spa, fitness centre and a heated outdoor pool offering panoramic views of Whistler and Blackcomb. A complementary shuttle runs from the hotel to the gondolas.
Just a short walk from the base of Whistler Mountain, in the heart of the village, is Blackcomb Lodge (4220 Gateway Drive). A selection of rooms is available from simple bedrooms, to suites and studios which sleep up to six; all include a fully equipped kitchen. An indoor pool, sauna and hot tub complex create the perfect place to relax after a day on the slopes. There is also a restaurant on site.
Tucked into a secluded alcove just off the main square at the base of the Whistler Village Gondola, the grand Westin Resort and Spa (4090 Whistler Way) offers various suites, some with unobstructed mountain views and all with gas fireplaces. There is an indoor and an outdoor pool as well as a whirlpool, gym and spa. Dine in one of the three on site eateries for breakfast, lunch or dinner or stop by FireRock Lounge for après and a view.
A glass counter packed with savoury and sweet pies greets patrons as they enter the small, simply decorated Peaked Pies (4369 Main Street). Order at the counter from the range which includes a traditional Aussie (mince beef and onion), butter chicken, chicken and leek, and steak and Guinness; served straight up, peaked (with a dollop of mash, mushy peas and beef gravy), or with any combination of the three extras. Dessert options include wild berry, apple crumble and a selection of cakes.
A classic American bistro, Wild Wood Pacific Bistro (4151 Village Green) serves possibly the best breakfast in Whistler with super-friendly service. Relax in one of the brown-leather booths that line the back wall and enjoy eggs served any way with any number of the various sides including bacon, sausages, mushrooms and fried potatoes. Sweeter (pancakes, banana bread French toast) and healthier (oatmeal, fruit salad) options are also available on the breakfast menu, which is served until 3pm. It is open for lunch and dinner too.
Avalanche Pizza Co. (4320 Gateway Drive) is a take-away establishment, however, there are a few tables indoors and a couple of wooden picnic benches out the front for anyone looking to eat in. Margherita, pepperoni and vegetarian pizzas are displayed in the counter cabinet for anyone ordering a slice. Full pizzas are made fresh and come in varying sizes, from manageable to obscenely large. Classics such as Hawaiian, BBQ chicken, cheese lovers and meat lovers are all on offer as well as cheesy garlic bread, chicken fingers and salad.
A cosy restaurant, where low lighting, dark furnishings and the doughy smells wafting from the pizza oven create an intimate ambience, Blacks Pub (4270 Mountain Square) has an Italian influenced menu with classic pastas such as carbonara and pesto linguine as well as a selection of pizzas. Located right at the base of Whistler Mountain, this is also a great spot for après on the large heated patio.
Open fires burn in the centre of tall, bar-style tables on the patio to the front of Longhorn Saloon and Grill (4280 Mountain Square) where après is the order, complete with views of Whistler Mountain. Inside is decorated with old ski and snowboard equipment hanging from the ceiling and on the walls. Tex-Mex influenced light bites and sharing platters are available. DJs and bands play from lunch time, into the small hours, on weekends. Order anything from a Corona bucket to a hot chocolate with whipped cream and the alcohol of your choice.
A typical Irish pub, Dubh Linn Gate (4320 Sundial Crescent) has a relaxed yet lively atmosphere. A wooden balustrade sections off the stage where bands play traditional music which complements the traditional Irish menu. Options include fish and chips, cottage pie, bangers and mash and potato skins. A selection of craft, European and speciality beers are available as well as a large selection of Scotch and North American whiskeys.
Enjoy views of Whistler Mountain’s snowy peaks through the full length windows while you party well into the night at Garibaldi Lift Co. (4165 Springs Lane). Open from 11am, this establishment offers one of the best après experiences, where mountain lodge meets cosmopolitan. Open terraces look out over the atmospheric village while cocktails are mixed and pitchers are poured at the bar inside. American and Canadian classics adorn the menu with poutine and nachos the favourites for sharing. DJs and musicians provide live entertainment.
Set back from the mountain in the centre of Whistler Village is Bar Oso (4222 Village Square), a contemporary Spanish tapas bar. Decorative black and white tiles are punctuated with wooden wine racks and the sleek marble bar where cocktails are artistically mixed. Classic (old fashioned, negroni) and signature (Oso sour, powder day) cocktails lace the drinks menu while the food menu offers traditional tapas dishes (chorizo, Spanish omelette) and charcuterie.
Stylish and sophisticated couture lines the rails in Aritzia (4222 Village Square). Originally a one-off boutique that opened in Vancouver, this contemporary store now has shops all over Canada and the United States. This is the place to find unique items of women’s clothing and accessories, from coats, tops, trousers and jump suits to hats, scarfs and bags. The small space is well laid out to accommodate a large selection of items the brand offers.
Another Canadian brand, Roots (4154 Village green), supplies comfy, cosy, quality lounge wear for all ages. Hoodies, zippers, joggers, t-shirts and sports socks line the shelves in the large wood-clad shop, while maple syrup candles and jars of pure Canadian maple syrup are displayed on the checkout counter. Bags, backpacks, shoes and other accessories are also sold.
Floor to ceiling displays of ski and snow board equipment are the only décor in Fanatyk Co. (4433 Sundial Place). A central boot rack is the main feature on entrance, with goggles, skis, snowboards, helmets and multiple other accessories neatly stacked along the walls. There is also a boot fitting area for custom fits. In the summer months this shop sells and rents bikes and also undertakes bike repairs.
Located just steps from the gondolas on Whistler Mountain, Showcase (4340 Sundial Crescent) sells a vast selection of ski and snowboarding equipment as well as smart-casual clothing and swim wear for men and women. Here customers are able to try equipment for a day on the slopes before they buy. There is also a boot fitting section.
Jersey Cream is a relatively easy blue run on Blackcomb Peak. This is a wide run, open on either side where banks of powdery moguls and undulating terrain lies. Stay on the run for a gradual steep slope down or use the edges to practice off-piste, small jumps and moguls, knowing it is easy to return to the safety of the piste. This is a good midway slope for progression from green to blue (on-piste).
On the northern edge of Blackcomb Peak is a gladed trail aptly named Outer Limits (black run). Board the Crystal Ridge express to the top then follow Ridge Runner (blue run) until you reach a square wooden arch sign posted for the double diamond trail. Descend down this vertical slope, turning when the trees command. To make the run even more tricky, moguls are banked up around the base of the trees, further reducing turning space.
A wide sweeping trail with snow-covered conifers lining each side making Enchanted Forest (blue run) an image from a fairy tale. Located on Whistler Mountain it can be accessed by the Peak 2 Peak or Whistler Village Gondola. Ski down via one of the various green or blue runs until signs for this trail appear, then take the journey along this consistently steep sloping run with one particularly steep section, roughly midway.
Lower Olympic is the green run on Whistler Mountain that leads all skiers from Whistler back to the Village. Starting at the top of the Fitzsimmons Express this is another wide slope which has a gradual gradient, with options of steeper sections to the side of the slope for anyone trying to advance. It runs alongside the gondola, weaving between the pylons, and detouring through forest clearings.