Arriving in Whistler, I felt a “wow” coming on.
It’s very apparent upon approach that you are going to have a good time. I entered Whistler Village through a large, brick yard that is generally being crisscrossed by boots, whatever the time of year. In the winter you have the ski and snowboard boots, and in the summer you have the hiking and biking variety.
These are folks out to play. People were spilling out into the yard laughing over some between-run food and drink from the many bar-and-grills. On the way to the hotel there were kids playing hacky-sack, people everywhere. We were staying at the Hilton – a little pricey but very nice with all the amenities and at the foot of the gondola. There was beauty everywhere, artistic and natural including human.
After checking in at the hotel, I made a beeline to the gondola and the top of the mountain. It is a little over twenty minutes to the top, but time well spent taking in the awesome scenery.
I arrived at the top, only to realize I was not really at the top; there was a further chair lift to the peak. Here at the “top” there is the Roundhouse Lodge and Steeps Grill – you catching a theme? Good food, great drink and plenty of seating inside or on an expansive deck looking up the peak. It’s a great place to share heroic tales or go around the table and find out where everyone is from.
I’ve got to say that day or night people were very approachable in Whistler. I suppose that’s how people get when they are so close to heaven. I had a drink with a couple from Canberra, Australia, who were skiing their way around the world. Apparently if you plan it correctly there is skiing, somewhere, year round.
Whistler first opened to skiers in 1966, the result of a failed attempted to lure the 1968 Winter Olympics to Canada. Whistler Village popped up sometime after that with its shopping, restaurants, and art galleries, all world class.
Whistler and Blackcomb, originally separate resorts, merged in 1997 to created the largest ski resort in North America. The resort has over 200 runs for all skill levels biking, snowboarding or skiing. There are well over 100 restaurants, about the same number of hotels and over 200 shops scattered around the village if that is your thing. I was very impressed by the quality of art galleries. I saw a lot of very cool stuff. On the other hand, you expect them to be expensive given the location – and they are.
Many don’t know about the terrific summers in Whistler. Besides the top-notch mountain biking, hiking and sightseeing, Whistler also has art walks throughout July, organized hikes for all levels, bike festivals, music festivals, children’s art festivals, ATV tours, wildlife viewing and a farmers market.
This is not a place that the kids could afford on their own, but that’s why they have parents, right? Whistler puts a lot of effort into being a family destination and has a summer’s worth of things for kids to do – rock climbing walls, trapeze lessons, a glacier camp for snowboarders to improve their moves, an indoor mountain bike facility with ramps, foam pits and such, and a human gyroscope a la NASA.
If you were so inclined, you could probably ditch the kids in the morning and then not see them again until dinnertime – not that one would want to do that…
Suffice it to say I was pleasantly surprised to come to Whistler and see not just snow, a chairlift and a hotel. I found that there is a lot of energy there, and much thought went into it. Whistler has truly worked to make itself into a destination, for anyone, young or old; ski, bike or none of the above, if I gave thumbs-ups as a rating, Whistler would require me many more hands.
Where to Stay
The Pinnacle Hotel at Whistler
Aspens on Blackcomb
Hilton Whistler Resort and Spa,
Four Seasons Resort Whistler
More information: http://www.whistlerblackcomb.com
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