Whistler kicked up its already world-class reputation when it co-hosted (with Vancouver) the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. Set into the skyscraping mountains of the Coast Range, the town has an irrepressible spirit that matches its surroundings. Things have changed quite a bit since the early days when what is now the centre of Whistler Village was a garbage dump where the bears foraged . The bears are still here but those early days when skiers swigged beer out of their ski boots have changed considerably. The top ski resort in North America has become what the Travel & Leisure 2012 World’s Best Awards readers’ survey ranks as one of the top ten resorts in Canada—winter, spring, summer and fall. The “You Only Live Once” Splurge List The One & Only Bearfoot
Where else can you saber a bottle of Champagne and drink it with a platter of freshly shucked oysters? Wait, the fun has just begun. Don a Canada Goose parka and sample four exotic vodkas from a choice of 50 from around the globe in the Belvedere Ice Room where the temperature (between -25 to -32 C) is ideal to savour the clear liquor. Now sample some of the finest and most innovative cuisine in Whistler concocted by Executive Chef Melissa Craig. Finish the night off with a tableside preparation of ‘nitro” ice cream—the best molecular cuisine you’ll ever taste. All of this epicurean excitement takes place at the Bearfoot Bistro. With luck you’ll meet Bearfoot’s founder, André Saint-Jacques whose joie de vivre is infectious. The five-course tasting menu is $64 and there’s a daily deal on oysters: a dozen for ten bucks from 4 to 6 pm. Not to be missed. Mile High Club
Blackcomb Aviation’s Deluxe Heli Golf Package flies you via chopper to Blackcomb’s mile high driving range on top of Mount Currie where you hit biodegradable eco balls (made of cornstarch). Prepare for some serious hang time! After this euphoric warm-up, you’re dropped off for a round at Big Sky, ranked in Canada’s Top 30 Golf Courses (2013) by Golf Digest. Each hole presents the player with a strategic risk/reward challenge that designer Robert Cupp sums up as “hard par, easy bogey.” Spend some bragging time at the clubhouse’s Fescue Restaurant and then you’ll be driven back to Whistler Village. Cost is $555 per person (plus tax) with a four-passenger minimum. Bear Patrol Meet the 50 black bears and cubs that call Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains home. Tours with bear lovers and experts ($189 plus tax for adults) take about three hours. You travel in comfortable 4x4vehicles through alpine terrain to feeding habitats. Meet me at Araxi In the centre of Whistler Village, Araxi’s chef, James Walt, longtime pioneer of the farm to fork philosophy, serves award-winning Northwest Coast cuisine sourced from Pemberton farmers and local fisheries. Sommelier of the Year, Samantha Rahn (Vancouver International Wine Festival, 2013) will suggest the perfect pairing with your meal. With a fabulous raw bar and huge selection of small and large plates, this is the perfect place to graze away the afternoon or evening. Save room for the lemon tart. Canadian Ice Keir Fine Jewellery in Whistler Village has a unique collection of baubles including a selection of Canadian diamonds mined in the Northwest Territories. One of their most popular keepsakes is a white gold inuksuk set with a Canadian diamond that was designed to commemorate the 2010 Olympics. Keir also has a Wish Book so you may visit the store, enter items you’d like to receive in the book and pray your partner takes the hint. Go for the Gold The Gold Lounge on the 8th floor of Fairmont Chateau Whistler will spoil you from the moment you arrive. Actually before you arrive their concierge will contact you to pre-arrange your reservations and activities. Gold guests receive all sorts of pampering perks including daily breakfast, cookies, clotted cream, scones and tea in the afternoon, hors d’oeuvres and an honour bar during cocktail hour. Nita Lake Lodge Nestled on the shores on Nita Lake and beside the Rocky Mountaineer train stop, the boutique Nita Lake Lodge, offers the only lakeside accommodation in the Whistler/Blackcomb area. Guests have complimentary use of canoes, kayaks, paddleboards, bicycles and fishing rods. Kids, big and small, love the S’mores cookout on the patio. Aura restaurant defines fine dining without pretension; many of the menu items are grown on the rooftop garden. You are only five minutes via complimentary hotel shuttle to Whistler Village The “Cheap Thrills” Save List First Nations BBQ Tuesday night is BBQ night at Whistler’s award-winning Squamish Lil’Wat Cultural Centre, a celebration of the traditions, lifestyle and crafts of these two First Nations bands. This is your chance to take a tour of the award-winning interactive museum and then sample such specialties as baked sage and cheddar bannock, cedar-planked salmon with maple glaze, bison sliders and wild rice/mushroom pilaf. $58 for adults; $25 for kids (under six are free). Easy as Aussie Pies Aussies love Whistler and that’s why so many folks from Down Under come here to work and play. Now a new shop called Peaked Pies sells traditional Aussie meat pies, complete with “peaked” toppings of mushy green peas, mashed potatoes and gravy—a Sydney tradition. Canada’s Best Burger
There’s usually a line but it’s worth the wait at Splitz Grill, Whistler’s first and only true burger joint, named “Canada’s Best Burger” by ReadersDigest.ca. Beef is the most popular but you can also try free-range lean buffalo, chicken, turkey, lamb, lentil and more. There are toppings galore. Be sure the try the garlicky Splitz sauce. If you still have room, go for the decadent old-fashioned banana split. Market Mania Every Sunday until October 6 the Whistler Farmers’ Market returns to the pedestrian streets of the Upper Village. Enjoy live music, cooking demos by Whistler chefs, organic and local produce, baked goods and a selection of crafts. Take it From the Top Whistler Blackcomb offers free group alpine tours starting at 11:15am and 1:15pm daily. Groups meet out front of the Roundhouse on Whistler Mountain. All you need is a lift ticket to get you up there! Don’t miss a ride on the Peak to Peak gondola, connecting the summits of Blackcomb and Whistler. Happy Hour Popular with guests and locals, Fairmont Fridays in the hotel’s Mallard Lounge offers special cocktails, beer or wine for $5 with free snacks and live music. Bakery Bliss For fabulous loaves, home-baked goodies and seriously good cappuccinos, head to Purebread near the Olympic Plaza (and have your photo taken with the Olympic rings). www.purebread.ca Hail Caesar Dusty’s Bar & BBQ at Creekside makes a mean Caesar, complete with horseradish, a spicy green bean and beef jerky garnish. This slides down very well with a platter of their BBQ ribs. Dusty’s is one of Whistler original watering holes and a favourite stomping ground for fun lovin’ locals.