Where to Eat, Stay, and Ski in Whistler, British Columbia

Just a two-hour drive from Vancouver lies the behemoth that is Whistler Blackcomb. Once two separate, stellar resorts on their own, the two merged in 1997 to become one of the largest and most sought-after ski vacations on earth. But it isn’t just the world-class terrain that does it. At the base of the mountain, you’ll find fine dining, low-key watering holes, and much, much more. Here’s how to make the most out of a trip to this alpine paradise.

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food, where to eat, stay, and ski in whistler, british columbia

Fairmont Chateau Whistler

Where to Stay

There are so many places to rest up in Whistler that you’ll nearly always be able to find something in your price range, even on popular weekends. The main thing to decide is if you want to stay in Whistler Village proper or in Creekside. Both areas are serviced by lifts and gondolas, offering direct mountain access. Creekside is a bit quieter and more subdued, but you may be able to find a better deal there.

If it’s your first time visiting—or you just want to stay where the action is—go for Whistler Village. There, you’ll have easy access to all the restaurants, shops, bars, and clubs, and you won’t have to even have to think about dealing with your car until you’re leaving town. On the luxury end of the spectrum, nestled into base of Blackcomb the Fairmont Chateau Whistler looks almost like a castle in a fairytale, and it has the insides to match. By December 2022, all 519 guest rooms will have been newly renovated. The rooms now sport a warm but chic look, with gorgeous live-wood headboards on each bed. The premium Fairmont Gold rooms and suites have just been redone, too, and offer top-notch décor and amenities. There’s also a eucalyptus steam room you don’t want to miss.

The Four Seasons Resort and Residences Whistler just underwent an extensive renovation of its own. The private residences are being redone ahead of the winter ’22-’23 season, with upscale styling that blends modern comforts such as built in sound systems and automated lighting with the nature of the surrounding mountains and forests, with large windows, natural stone, and wood setting the mood. If you’re looking for something cozier, The Sundial, a boutique hotel that sits right in the heart of the village, is extremely close to the lifts and everything else you could need.

If the quieter Creekside area is more your speed, Evolution, Legends and First Tracks (which are owned by the resort) all offer comfortable condos with kitchens; Evolution being the glitziest of the bunch. If you want full-on luxury in Creekside, the boutique Nita Lake Lodge offers 77 well-appointed suites with a distinctive mountain style.

food, where to eat, stay, and ski in whistler, british columbia

Whistler, which is part of the Fitzsimmons Range of mountains, is the largest ski area in North America.

The Mountain

We could write a novel-length love letter to these peaks, but let’s start with the size. Coming in at more than 8,100 skiable acres, it’s handily the largest resort in all of North America (to put it in perspective, Squaw Valley is only 3,600 acres). Not only that, you can descend more than 5,200 feet in a single, leg-burning, top-to-bottom run—that’s the second-longest vertical drop on the continent. Eighteen percent of the trails are green, 55 percent are blue, 22 percent are black, and five percent double-black: It isn’t just that there’s something for everybody, it’s that there’s a ton of stuff for everybody.

It’s practically impossible to get bored on these twin mountains, which are connected by the world’s largest, tallest gondola. Both contain steep, powder-filled chutes and bowls, perfectly spaced tree-runs, big wide-open groomers, terrain parks for every level, and just about everything else you could want. Many snowboarders gravitate toward Blackcomb because almost all of the terrain runs along the fall-line (i.e. the most direct line downhill), meaning you’re less likely to get stuck in a flat section and have to hike out. If trees and powder are your speed, the glades within Whistler’s Symphony area are heaven on earth. Even during busy weeks, the resort is so big that you can find little stashes of untouched powder if you’re willing to go exploring—and exploring is arguably the best part of any trip here.

Starting ‘22 and ’23 ski season, there will be two new features on the mountain in the form of a new lift and a new gondola: Big Red Express has been converted from a four-person lift to a high-speed six pack, boosting uphill capacity by a whopping 30 percent. The Creekside Gondola, which used to hold six, can now hold eight, reducing congestion by as much at 35 percent. Combined, this should give the Creekside section of the mountain a huge boost, which makes the quieter, less-pricey side of the mountain even more appealing.

food, where to eat, stay, and ski in whistler, british columbia

A raw bar tower at Joe Fortes Seafood and Chop House

Where to Après, Eat, and Drink

For après in Whistler Village, hit Giribaldi Lift Company Bar and Grill (or GLC, as it’s known to locals) for views of the mountain along with blankets and heat lamps to keep you warm, strong drinks, and some very tasty eats. In Creekside, Dusty’s BBQ is usually packed when the lifts close, but for good reason: it has solid food, live music, and a well-timed happy hour.

Whistler’s newest fine-dining restaurant is called Wild Blue, and it has opened to rave reviews. Centered around elevated Pacific Northwest cuisine, it includes sustainable seafood and local ingredients, and is the latest from Chef Alex Chen. It also has a serious wine collection and cocktail menu, not to mention a mouth-watering raw bar.

If high-end meats are your thing, we’ve got two new recommendations for you. Joe Fortes Seafood and Chop House has been a staple of the Vancouver dining scene since 1985, but now it’s bringing its sumptuous flavors to the mountains of Whistler, but it isn’t alone. The Sidecut steakhouse has long been a staple of Whistler, but in 2021 it was wholly redesigned. Nestled inside the Four Seasons, the goal was to make it as luxurious as possible, and they went all in. Everything about the place screams elegance, and the menu offers a steakhouse experience few others can, using the finest Canadian grass-fed meats.

If oysters are your thing, then Araxi is where you should head. In addition to its wide selection of bivalves, it has seasonal menus and an enviable wine list. For sushi, Sushi Village is a Whistler institution. It’s a classic shoes-off, horigotatsu-style restaurant with recessed floors, and it has some of creative rolls on offer (pro-tip: ask for whatever chefs Nestor or Nicole feel like whipping up). You also can’t go wrong at the Red Door Bistro or at Alta Bistro, the latter of which offers the best cocktails on the mountain.

For a very chill bar, check out the newly redone Braidwood Tavern. This upscale spot offers the cozy, inviting feel of a classic mountain cabin. Folksiness aside, the Braidwood offers mouthwatering cocktails, a large, rotating selection of beers, some serious eats, and an après ski happy hour that lets you enjoy at a very reasonable price.

Dance parties are plentiful in Whistler Village—if your legs aren’t completely dead after skiing all day, that is. The first two places to check are Tommy Africa’s and Buffalo Bills: Check ahead of time to see who’s spinning, but these two clubs generally pull in the best DJs and have a fun, festive vibe. For the morning after, hit Elements for breakfast—their stuffed French toast is something you shouldn’t leave Whistler without trying.

food, where to eat, stay, and ski in whistler, british columbia

A heli-skiing expedition in Whistler

Something Special

If you’ve seen a ski or snowboard film in the last ten years, it’s probably included some footage of heli-skiing in BC. It’s a bucket-list item for any powder-lover, and Whistler has two companies that can make those dreams come true.

Phantom Heli-Skiing has exclusive reign over nearly a quarter-million untouched acres, so you and your small group of friends will enjoy 10-15 runs (between 12,000 and 20,000+ feet of vert) of incredible alpine and tree-line powder, all led by a certified guide. Odds are good that it will be the best day of skiing of your life. These are small helicopters offering private and semi-private trips.

There’s also Whistler Heli-Skiing, which has been operating for 41 years. It has tenure over a whopping 432,000 acres, and can be booked for individuals or groups. While any heli-skiing is expensive and exclusive, Whistler Heli-Skiing offers a somewhat more approachable way in, including lower prices, shorter days, and the ability to book as an individual or a couple

If being in Canada conjures lumberjack daydreams of swinging steel and drinking beer while wearing a red plaid shirt, then you’re in for a treat. Right next to each other, Forged Axe Throwing and Coast Mountain Brewing offer a beautifully symbiotic experience. Grab a couple of locally-made (and very tasty) beers, and then stroll next door and learn how to hurl some sharp objects at a target with pinpoint accuracy. What could possibly go wrong?

If all of that sounds taxing on the body, fear not. Newly opened is The Spa at Whistler, a holistic wellness destination located in the picturesque Westin Resort & Spa that offers a wide array of treatments including a variety of massages, manicures and pedicures, facials, waxing, and more. Not only that, all massage and facial treatments come with full access to the Westin’s pool and hot tub, so it might just be the perfect spot to recharge after a few days of charging down the slopes.

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