Whistler is a ski resort two hours’ drive from Vancouver. When my friend Don came to visit me in Canada, I of course had to take him to Whistler to see if he was as good of a skier as he said.
I’ve never skied outside of the European Alps, and I arrived at Whistler ready to be all smug and say things like, “Well, I guess it’s nice, but it’s not like the Alps now, is it?” Well, I got no use for my practiced lines. Whistler turned out to be on par with the Alps in every regard.
The size of the mountains (plural, as the skiing is divided over two mountains, Blackcomb and Whistler, connected by a crazy-long gondola) is enormous. It takes two days intense all-day skiing to explore it superficially, and you could easily spend much longer than that and not get bored.
The size and quality of the mountain is of course important, but just as important is the food. For example, skiing in France is boring because the food sucks (a sad little sausage and some chips) while Austria is a delight (germknödels and käsespätzle!). Whistler did not disappoint. Both on and off the mountain, the food was delicious! And not only that, the service was impeccable, and this is not just my low-European standards speaking; American Don was also floored by how every single server greeted us with genuinely warm smiles, entertained us with friendly banter and served us with speed, grace and attention. (with the one exception of a cute Japanese girl who proudly presented us with an empty glass when we had ordered a glass of milk, but her enthusiasm about this empty glass was charming in its own way.)
You do pay a premium for all this awesomeness though. Everything is expensive, from food to accommodation. A one-day ski pass cost $125 + tax, and then you add on another $65 for ski gear.
If skiing every day is too expensive, then take a break and just explore the village. Whistler village is big, friendly and easy to get around. Everyone kept comparing it to a ‘picturesque Alpine village’, but this is an exaggeration. Alpine villages are more charming than Whistler village, but on the other hand, Whistler village has a greater range of shops and restaurants.
There are plenty of non-skiing activities in Whistler. I really wanted to do the skeleton, but sadly, it wasn’t running that day. Instead, we watched bobsleighing at the Olympic bobsleigh track. (Whistler held the Winter Olympics in 2010.) Close to the bobsleigh is also the tube park which is a cheap way to entertain you for an hour.
Or just stay at the hotel and soak in a hot tub with a stiff jack’n’coke.
I’ll round off this post with some photos and videos. I’d also like to thank Don for being such excellent company during this trip. I had a ton of fun!