Only at the end of a truly great season of skiing can you really look back and adequately appreciate the true meaning of your collected experiences. The people, the places, the purity, the pain and the powder all seem to blend together into a simple feeling of sheer awe for everything you accomplished.
Most people (who dont live in a ski town) are lucky if they get one long weekend a year on the slopes. For ‘enthusiasts’ that’s barely enough time to stop complaining about your gear, and for newbies that is just enough time to get annoyed at the amount of times youve fallen or time spent on your bum. In reality, three intense days of learning and honing your skills can give you all the tools you need to conquer most parts of any mountain.
“Good skiers blame themselves, great skiers blame the equipment.”
Spring skiing is a special thing. The weather is less of an issue, the snow is softer and more forgiving and the skies are (usually) bluer and reveal the true majesty of any mountain.
Whistler/Blackcomb, British, Columbia, Canada:
Weve been seemingly everywhere out westPark City, Vail, Aspen, Telluride, Mammoth, Beaver Creek, Jackson Hole, Tahoe, Breckenridge, Keystoneso we set out to do something different. Canadian skiing had always been on the agenda, but it always just seemed a little too far, and like a little too much effort, but after a good amount of research we realized that nothing could be further from the truth.
How to Get There:
From New York:
Cathay Pacific JFK-YVR could be the best flight I’ve ever taken. At a perfect time, 11pm, it’s after work and gives you plenty of time to get to JFK (the flight serves as a first leg to Hong Kong) and you land just 5.5 hours later in Vancouver at 2am. The plane is a Boeing 777 and the service on Cathay is unlike anything offered from domestic carriers.
Once you land you have two choices:
2. Call up our friends at the VIP Whistler Transportation (ask for Rhonda with an SUV) for the amazingly scenic albeit dark drive up the newly finished Sea to Sky Highway to Whistler. Car service starts at $350 for three people.
Where to Stay:
After the drive, there is no better place to rest your head than the Fairmont Chateau. The perennial ski-in ski-out majestic mountainside hotel keeps the lights on even if you are arriving at 3am. Situated on Blackcomb mountain, the terrain is just as good as Whistler and the two are connected by the new Peak 2 Peak gondola, one of the longest in the world.
The Fairmont has everything you could want in a ski hotel: many restaurants, indoor/outdoor pool with Jacuzzis, gym, spa and one of the best aprs ski bars, complete with local beer and live music.
The Pan Pacific Whistler Village Centre is a uniquely modern establishment that caters as much to first time visitors as it does to return guests. The spacious one-bedroom suites all feature flat panel televisions and kitchens. With a total of 83 suites, dont let the lack of ski-in ski-out fool you: the Village Centre’s sister location, the Mountainsde at the base of the Blackcomb Gondola will collect your gear and have it waiting for you the following morning.
Spend the start of your first day getting set up with everything you need for the perfect downhill experience.
Our guy Dave at Whistler Village Sports (4254 VIllage Stroll) will set you up with the ultimate demo, rental or purchase.
If youre a snowboarder, there is no better shop than The Circle (4369 Main Street), slightly out of the main village, but worth the trip. They carry the hottest cult gear like Nikes super hard-to-find snowboard boots and Union bindings.
See Kevin FanatykCo (4433 Sundial Place), the best boot fitter in town. He will tell you things about your boots you didnt know existed, as well as make sure they fit so you can have the most comfortable ride possible on the slopes.
With an amazing and surprising array of global brand stores from Burton, The North Face and , you can stock up on everything you need.
What To Do:
If you are a proficient skier/rider, our recommendation is to spend at least a half a day on the mountain with one of Whistler’s amazingly knowledgeable volunteer mountain guides. There is no better way to really get to know the ins and outs of a mountain as massive as Whistler without a little insider insight. After all, the only way to get better is to push yourself by skiing with someone better. Our guide was a longtime native of Whistler and took us down Olympic runs, and glacier skiingsomething we never would have done on our ownon the Blackcomb Glacier.
Go to the Scandinave Spa:
If a more laid back experience is more your thing, head over to the Scandinave Spa. Just 15-20 minutes from the base, this spa has everything you need to relax, including heated pools and massage therapy.
Meet a local:
Due to a special two-year work visa arrangement with Australia, almost everyone we met on the mountain was from the land down under. Aussies have such a unique insight on the world, plus they know how to have a good time. The people in the Village and on the slopes are some of the nicest people you could hope to meet.
Where To Eat:
Bearfoot Bistro – http://www.bearfootbistro.com – 4121 Village Green
One of Whistlers top fine dining establishments, owner Andre Tk encourages all his patrons to learn the art of ‘sabreing’ their own champagne bottle instead of just uncorking it. Hell take you down to his cellar that carries over 20,000 bottles, and in a practice that dates back to a Napoleonic France, the lucky bottle opener slices off the corkand the top of the bottle with it. Andre should know a thing or two about the practice: after all, he holds the Guinness world record in it. Making the most of local produce, seafood from Vancouver just to the west and meat from the plains of Alberta just to the east make for the freshest ingredients around. For a palate cleanser in-between courses, be sure to check out the Belvedere Vodka ice room.
ii. A sample 5 course tasting menu:
Amuse: Dungeness crab wrapped in yellowfin tuna with bacon vinaigrette.
Course 1: Tuna and hamachi sashimi tartare with yuzo and squid ink mayo
Course 2: Scrambled eggs with chives and black truffles on top
Course 3: Pan seared scallops with Australian wagnyu beef and chanterelle mushrooms
Course 4: Angus strip loin wrapped in bacon
Course 5: Pear cognac cake with pear gelle and goat cheese ice cream
Lunch at Garibaldi Lift Co. – At the base of the Blackcomb Lift
The perennial during, or aprs ski spot, Garibaldi is everything you want in a lunch/aprs/late night experience in a ski town. Plenty of great beers on tap, satisfying and filling fare, full bar, and great music, this place is nonstop from 12-1am.
Araxi – http://www.araxi.com – 4222 Village Square
Opened in 1981, its one of the oldest in Whistler. Everyone knows Araxi and it’s one of the first places the locals ask if you are going for dinner. Some of the menu highlights include: Wild sockeye salmon sashimi, beef tataki with ponzu, seared red tuna, Vancouver island octopus with crispy squid on top.
Sushi Village – http://www.sushivillage.com – 4272 Mountain Square
“If someone comes to Whistler for a week they would eat here twice.”
Once again, Whistlers proximity to some of the freshest seafood around lends itself to a remarkable menu including: cold chicken (ask for this special as it’s usually only served to the locals), spicy tofu, seafood gyoza, beef tataki and garlic beef. Our favorite rolls include the PS roll (prawn salmon cucumber and crunchy tempura) and the Double Hawaiian (Hawaiian tuna tempura with cucumber and spicy mayo). Finish the meal off with “sushi shooters”: seared Hawaiian tuna and salmon nigiri.
Fat Tonys Pizza 4122 Village Green
Amazing late night slices that hit the spot.
Nochi – Located in the lobby of the Pan Pacific Whistler Village Centre Hotel (4320 Sundial Crescent)
Brand new to Whistler Village, this Pan Asian bistro at the Pan Pacific TK. Delicious fare ranging from Thai to Japanese and Chinese all utilize ingredients that capitalize on Whistlers unique proximity between the land and the sea. Moderately priced and boasting HUGE sharable portions and a stellar cocktail list, this centrally located establishment hits all of the key criteria.
Nights on the town (straight from the locals):
Sunday: Longhorn Saloon
Wednesday: Buffalo Bills