The ultimate guide to spending winter in Whistler, Canada
Nestled between peaks in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia, Canada, Whistler is the perfect destination for winter adventures.
In Whistler, British Columbia, extremity is commonplace. Its mountains are colossal, its glaciers ancient and sprawling, its thrill-seeking activities are practically endless and its après-ski is decadent. The rough-hewn wilds of Canada’s western mountains are transformed in winter as they’re draped in dense coatings of snow, seemingly designed for adventurers.
Things to see and do
1. Head to the mountains
In Canada, Whistler is synonymous with slopes. Skiers and snowboarders glide down the 8,100 acres of prime snow-coated terrain, with more than 200 marked trails catering to all winter sports enthusiasts. The Whistler Blackcomb mountains serve every level of skill with their perfectly pitched black diamonds and beginner-friendly scenic routes and après-oriented descents.
2. Get active off the slopes
You don't have to take to the slopes to get your heart racing in Whistler. Follow a Nordic trail looping around the frosted rim of Whistler’s Lost Lake, cross-country routes lead skiers into the depths of the secluded forests. Strap on to the back of a pack of Arctic dogs, sledding through the pines with your expert canine guides on the mountain’s scenic trail. Alternatively, if you're feeling extreme, take on the most physically demanding challenge that the slopes have to offer – heliskiing. Hurtle to earth from the door of a helicopter to catch endless backcountry powder and unparalleled mountain views.
3. Check out Whistler Village
The streets of Whistler's pedestrianised village are draped in hanging golden lights, gleaming through the density of freshly set snow. Shelter from the winter winds in cabin-style, wood-panelled boutiques, in galleries showcasing prominent local artists, or in the museums which educate about the region's rich heritage.
4. Indulge in some après
Teaming from the pubs and bars that spill out into the Village, travellers flock to après hotspots to socialise after long solo days on the slopes. Stop off at a slope-side bar like Garibaldi's Lift Co. and try Canada's answer to a Bloody Mary, a Caesar made with vodka and clam-juice. Alternatively, indulge in champagne, oysters, and cheese fondue at high end restaurant like Araxi Restaurant + Oyster Bar.
Three of the best restaurants
1. Bearfoot Bistro: This spot will give you a true taste of the Canadian wilds. The fine-dining restaurant focuses on fresh, regional ingredients such as wild game, salmon and Pacific Ocean shellfish. With local flavours to the fore, Bearfoot Bistro serves local lobster dripping in butter, seared scallops and smoked crab draped in Calabrian chilli, as well as platters of fresh Canadian oysters. It's also home to the Ketel One Ice Room, permanently frozen at -32C. It offers a vodka-tasting experience that’ll test your endurance. With a selection of more than 50 vodkas, the room is suited to the extreme après-ski crowd.
2. Il Caminetto: Here, you can get a taste of the Mediterranean in the Canadian mountains. Tuck into Nova Scotian lobster linguine with creamy lemon, chili and white wine sauce, or Tofino octopus sautéed with an 'nduja sofrito. Your meal can be paired with unique cocktails, especially if you're partial to negronis with a twist.
3. Wild Blue: High-end eateries are plentiful in Whistler. At Wild Blue, you can take a taste of Canada with sockeye salmon pulled fresh from the freezing lakes paired with locally sourced chanterelles. Alternatively, try the Pacific sablefish draped in roasted fish bone sauce or decadent towers of Canadian caviar.
Where to stay
1. Fairmont Chateau Whistler: An elegant alpine refuge, Fairmont Chateau Whistler peeks above the pines at the foot of Blackcomb Mountain. Adventurous travellers can recuperate in this ski-in, ski-out woodland resort, nestled by their own fireplace or relaxing in the on-site spa.
2. Nita Lake Lodge: Contrasting with the stark white snow and glacial blue of Whistler Creekside’s lake, Nita Lake Lodge’s wooden interiors are flooded with warm, golden light. You might risk being drawn away from its spectacular, lakeside views by the double-soaker tub and blazing basalt fireplace in your room.
3. Sundial Hotel: Wide windows let the winter sun fill the rooms at the Sundial Hotel and offer a glimpse of the buzzing streets in the village below. Kitted out with gourmet kitchens, private patios and hot tub suites, it’s a great place to refresh and rejuvenate after a long day of activities.
Plan your trip
Only a two-hour journey from Vancouver, along the famous Sea-to-Sky Highway, Whistler is easily accessible from Vancouver International Airport. To learn more about Canada’s ultimate winter destination, head to whistler.com/winter
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