By Anita Draycott
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 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.
Meet the 50 black bears and cubs that call Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains home. Tours with bear lovers and experts 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.
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 inukshuk 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, 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