Twenty years ago, I had the opportunity to leave my hometown to live in Whistler for a year. I immediately fell in love with this place where the mountains are impressive and intimidating. Still, the proximity to Vancouver and its warm climate, even in winter, makes us forget about our frigid Quebec winters. Here are my picks.
When I left Whistler to come back to Quebec, I told myself that I had to return at least once a year. As a content creator and ambassador for many brands in the ski industry, I find Whistler represents the perfect playground to replenish my portfolio. During my last trip in February, I met many Quebecers who were visiting for the first time and seemed lost in the immensity of the mountains. That prompted me to write this little guide of tips and favourites.
To get there: Sea to Sky Highway
Many choose the all-inclusive formula, and it is convenient. However, I prefer reserving and planning the trip myself, so I could rent a car instead of taking a shuttle. A car is a must for a 5 to 7-day trip because it offers more freedom. First, the road from Vancouver to Whistler, the Sea-to-Sky Highway is breathtaking. You’ll be able to stop and take in all the beautiful scenery. Squamish is situated halfway, you can stop there to buy the things you need at the grocery store and the Walmart. Also, if you’re a fan of craft beer, I highly recommend stocking up at Backcountry Brewing and Howe Sound Brewery. You can even eat there!
Where to Stay in Whistler and the Area
Whistler-Blackcomb village is vast, not to mention the surrounding areas. Check the location of the hotels or condos you are considering to make sure they are close to the gondolas. If you are a little farther from the mountain, check if your hotel offers a valet-ski service at the foot of the slopes and a shuttle service. A condo with a kitchenette will allow you to cook on-site and avoid extra spending. One of our favourite hotels is the newly renovated Aava Hotel, which is a short walk from the gondola. It’s affordable for Whistler. For those looking for a condo, our favourite choice is the Delta, which is conveniently located, and offers a ski-in-ski-out shuttle. The condos are equipped with a kitchenette and a washer-dryer which are very practical.
Favourite Affordable Restaurants
Every day should start at the Lift Coffee, which is situated next to the gondola, which offers the best coffee and breakfast in Whistler. For dinner, the classics are the Mongolie Grill, where you can make your Asian wok plate and the Earls, a family steakhouse with something for everyone. The best-kept secret is the Splitz Grill, where everyone will find their favourite burger (even vegetarians), and where you’ll find the best poutine outside of Quebec!
Where to ski?
The mountain is gigantic! It’s impossible to see everything in one trip. With more than 200 slopes and dozens of bowls the size of our Quebec mountains, you could get lost in this playground. Usually, the gondola is the only lift open at the beginning of the day, and it will take you to the top of Whistler. You will be able to ski in the Emerald area for about one hour while you wait for the other areas to open. On Whistler mountain, you can take the Peak chair that will take you to the top (Whistler Peak) where you’ll access the Symphony and Harmony areas, two impressive amphitheatres with bowls and breathtaking scenery. The more adventurous ones can go up to Flute Bowl, which is accessible only by foot or on touring skis but where the powder is magical if fresh snow has fallen during your trip.
On Blackcomb Mountain, where you can go from one summit to the other thanks to the longest gondola of its kind, the Peak to Peak, the two most coveted are the 7th Heaven and the Blackcomb Glacier. At the bottom of the Horstman Glacier, on Blackcomb, you’ll be able to visit an ice cave. It’s possible to ski the glacier during the summer, and many camps welcome athletes from all over the world. For optimal ski conditions, I highly suggest not going to the bottom of the mountain before the day’s end but rather staying at the top.
There are close to ten places to eat on the mountain. Most of them require a reservation; you’ll be able to make one easily online. Most of the hotel rooms are equipped with a small fridge that will allow you to keep things to make a sandwich cold. Although it’s more expensive than the one at Squamish, there is an IGA at the end of Whistler Village in the Marketplace area.
The Most Important Part of Your Trip to Whistler : the Après-ski!
Whistler is known for its après-ski! The well-known Longhorn, situated at the bottom of Whistler Mountain, has an incredible reputation. Dusty’s, located in the Creekside area, 5 minutes away from Whistler Village, is popular on weekends, and it’s where you’ll find the best nachos in Whistler.
7 March 2022