As a resident, business owner and frequent skiier at Whistler, I have realized that there are “secrets”, things to see and do that the average visitor to Whistler has NO idea about. I’ll try to pass along a local’s knowledge, but know that Whistler is a paradise all of its own – these secrets merely add to the magic!
Hotels can be $300 a night and up during ski season, and peak summer season – but three ideas have saved me money on accommodation. First, there is a condo booking agency called ResortQuest that can offer off season specials – I stayed in a gorgeous townhouse a block from the village square, with hot tub, fireplace, kitchen, sleeping 4-6 people for $100 in the early fall – ask about any deals like that!
If you are sociable, and willing to both ENJOY and put up with the common areas of a bed and breakfast – Chalet Beau Sejour had bed and breakfast in a spectacular chalet looking out on the mountains for $90-125. Very social hosts, and a dining table looking out on the mountains with double sided fireplace and mulled wine while visitors from around the world discuss snow and ski conditions simply can’t be beat!
Lastly, there are two hostels – the venerable Shoestring Lodge, just north of Whistler maybe ten blocks distance, and slated to be “developed” into townhouses before the Olympics, has beds for $25, as does the hostel across the Lake from Whistler – you may share a room with some interesting strangers, but that price leaves plenty of money for food and entertainment!
Whistler has an incredible array of high end restaurants, but one I found outstanding was the Edgewater Lodge, just north of Whistler a few miles. Check the picture in the website, combined with the Zagat quote “venison to die for” (they have their own venison farm) and you’ll be on your way!
At the other end of the spectrum, the mall beside the Whistler Conference Center hosts Shakespeare’s Pies – Australian meat pies for under $4 that you will come back for over and over, especially after visiting Whistler’s bars and nightclubs!
Three bars stand out as amongst Whistler’s best, and offer a unique experience. Tommy Africa’s will attract the early 20s crowd, with glass DJ booth, the best local DJs and a zebra striped door! The Savage Beagle is a two level bar on the main walkway, with a crowded dance floor downstairs, and a “belly up to the bar” section upstairs. The “cougar bar” for 30s and up is Buffalo Bills, at the other end of the main walkway – live bands, great DJs and comedians have offered many great nights over the years.
Ski lift passes are often available at the 7-11 in Squamish or Vancouver on your way to Whistler for a discount that can be $10-20 per lift ticket. Lift lines are shortest at the Whistler Creekside lift, if you want to get going quickly, but I prefer the skiing at Blackcomb, the other mountain (they are joined at Whistler Village)
The best kept secrets about Whistler are the summer activities – there are a group of pristine lakes to swim or canoe, mountain bikes with full protection gear are rocketed to the top of the mountain for rapid or tricky, descents, and the ski hill has a glacier at the top that is kept open until August!
Oh yeah, some guys named Palmer and Nicholas have golf courses, and there are ski camps, tennis camps, zip trek lines, heli hiking, white water rafting, fishing, horseback riding, ATVs – there are a LOT of great things to do, but bring money!!
Enjoy it now, before the Olympics – because 2 weeks of staring at this on TV is going to make the world go crazy for Whistler!