Slope off somewhere spectacular
There's no business like snow business in Whistler, in Canada's Blackcomb Mountains
Whistler village nestles into the base of the world-renowned Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains in Canada, and is just a couple of hours’ drive north of Vancouver along the Sea to Sky Highway. It combines well with a stay in the city to recover from jet lag and to ensure that you are ready and raring to go by the time you hit the ski slopes.
The pleasant climate of Whistler, combined with its impressive snowfall (an annual average of more than 11 metres), makes this an ideal ski destination with wide, well-groomed pistes and plenty of accommodation with ski-in/out access. Spanning more than 31 square kilometres, the vast and varied terrain will entice first-timers and seasoned skiers alike.
The impressive mountains are connected by the Peak2Peak gondola and supported by one of the largest networks of high-speed chairlifts in the world. Adrenaline junkies can get their kicks in the legendary chutes, steeps, cliffs and couloirs, while boarders can cruise through powder-filled bowls and wide open slopes. The 11k Peak to Creek offers a fabulous non-stop descent or, if you would rather stay perched above treeline at the top of the mountain, there are incredible views and trails for every skill level.
Whistler Blackcomb Snow School is regarded as one of the best ski and snowboard schools in North America, and, with group or private lessons for pupils of all ages, offers the best possible opportunity to improve skills and gain confidence. For more experienced skiers, the 173 glaciers and 475 runs within 1,748 square kilometres of big mountain terrain make this a Heli-Skiing paradise. Off the slopes there is plenty for non-skiers too, including dog sledding and showshoeing, while the charming village is mostly pedestrianised, and offers a great selection of boutiques and ski shops, as well as a wide selection of restaurants.
There’s a lively aprés-ski scene in Whistler, with a large number of cosy pubs and bars. For small and grown-up children the resort’s Tube Park has multiple lanes offering a variety of sliding experiences in inflatable tubes which stay open into the evening. In the unlikely event that you ever tire of the resort’s skiing, Ziptrek’s network of zip lines and suspension bridges allows you to walk through the tree tops, or soar high above the Fitzsimmons Creek.
Alternatively you could hop on a snowmobile and take a guided tour through the snow to experience Whistler off the beaten track. But don’t forget that Whistler is a year- round resort which, in summertime, becomes a world of tranquil forests, mountain hiking and biking trails and manicured fairways, with some of the best golfing on the West Coast. During the summer months, you can take a leisurely paddle on the River of Golden Dreams or on Lost Lake, two of the most spectacular lakes in the area or enjoy a gondola ride to the top of the mountain for some exceptional views over the stunning range.
For the more adventurous at heart there is jet boating, canoeing, kayaking, rafting, zip-lining, heli-hiking, horse riding, glacier walking and ice-climbing – indeed, for the active, the options in Whistler are endless. The cost for, say, two nights in Vancouver at Fairmont Pacific Rim, followed by seven nights at the Four Seasons Whistler costs from about £1,080 per person (excluding flights and transfers).
How to get there
Hungerford-based luxury tour operator Bailey Robinson has a reputation for providing tailor-made holidays for the discerning traveller. Contact them at The Courtyard, Hungerford, Berkshire RG17 ONF. Tel: 01488 689700.