When you think of Canada, chances are your mind conjures up images of snow-capped mountains, vast alpine forests and moose grazing by glittering waters cooled by glaciers. Like a grizzly hunting for salmon, if this is your idea of a dream holiday location then you'll enjoy the natural playground that is Whistler.
For 50 years, Whistler has been British Columbia's favourite ski/snow destination – and with very good reason. Whistler Blackcomb's legendary peaks, connected by the amazing Peak 2 Peak Gondola, offer the most skiable terrain in North America, and also boast the longest ski season. These reasons alone are enough to bolster its position as North America's #1 ski resort.
If your kind of salmon fishing involves a highly trained sushi chef with no fishing rod to be seen, there's more to Whistler than off-piste, bunny slopes and Aprés-ski. As one of Canada's most sought-after summer destinations for loved-up couples seeking a vibrant food scene, indulgent spa offerings and mountain adventures, Whistler really does have something for everyone. Throw in boutique shopping, art and culture, plus a lively calendar of music, food and sporting events, and you can see why it's such a beloved destination.
Eat & Drink
Okay, it's a term used for the ski-scene, but you can still revel in the après nightlife without the snow. Think cheeky cocktails and lip-smacking martinis, oyster and tapas bars, salumi and cheese bars, and top-class restaurants and world-class wines. Sounds pretty good, eh? The really, really great thing is that in summer, restaurants here feature extraordinary deals offering the freshest, farm-to-table menus for less than half the standard prices. They do this to keep staff employed during the off-season and to give locals an opportunity to eat out at places such as the renowned Araxi Restaurant, helmed by Chef James Walt and rated by renowned Chef Gordon Ramsay as the best in Canada.
A gastronomic degustation delight is the only way I can describe the brilliant cuisine we indulged in at Araxi Restaurant. Starting with a smoked Roma tomato soup, we then moved onto another five courses which included tuna nigiri, gnocchi, smoked Steelhead trout, roasted duck breast and roasted pears – all accompanied with matching wines. Take my word for it, it's worth driving from Vancouver to Whistler on a summer's night just to enjoy a similar meal for under $40 per person… yes, for a five-course, decadently divine, degustation menu! You'll even have enough money left over to book yourselves a room for the night. Oh hello romantic getaway.
There's a dozen or more outstanding restaurants in Whistler Blackcomb that are worth discovering, such as Stonesedge Kitchen, Basalt Wine & Salumeria, Elements Urban Tapas Parlour, Bearfoot Bistro and Caramba! Restaurante. For casual dining there's a plethora of pizza joints and sushi bars and, for more hearty fare, English and Irish pubs. Don’t miss the excellent-value après Araxi Oyster Bar, which serves some of the freshest oysters in town. You could easily spend a month here and never dine at the same place twice.
Out & About
If you're fond of adventure and you're looking for a different way to see the sights, Whistler has plenty to offer. Spend a couple of hours together flying down a series of ziplines suspended high above the forest floor for a couple's bonding experience that'll get the blood pumping and the mind screaming – in the best possible way. Ziptrek Ecotours offer a variety of zip tours, but for a real heart-starter do the two-kilometre Sasquatch™ – the longest zipline in Canada.
If you prefer your holidays a little more relaxed, a TreeTrek Tour might be more your speed – offering gentle, guided walking tours over trails, suspension bridges and boardwalks through the forest. It's an illuminating and educational eco-tour that I found fascinating… and slightly less freaky than hurtling from tree to tree, 500 metres off the ground!
There are also plenty of other activities such as mountain and dirt biking, kayaking or canoeing on one of the stunning lakes, white water rafting, hiking valley and mountain trails to spectacular rivers and waterfalls, golf, horse riding, bungee jumping, 4x4 tours, and so much more.
There's no shortage of fabulous hotel spas offering to pummel and soothe your muscles with a great couple's massage but, for one with a difference, try the Scandinave Spa. Amid the heady forest spices of spruce and cedar on the edge of Lost Lake, just a few minutes from town, you'll discover this unique scandi-style spa. Scandinavians love to sit in a sauna until they're broiled like a lobster, then jump into a pond of ice-cold water – then do it all over again (so plan to spend a couple of hours there).
The science behind this "fire and ice" treatment suggests that alternating between hot and cold water helps eliminate toxins, decrease inflammation, release endorphins and stimulate circulation – all good stuff. They call it "hydrotherapy" and treatments include saunas, steam baths, hot baths, thermal waterfalls and cold plunges. I think it would be pure magic in winter with snowflakes falling all around, but a summer temperature would be more conducive to me jumping from hot to cold - although my partner says I can do that any time of year.
Room for two
Google accommodation in Whistler Blackcomb and nearly 200 options will pop up on your screen. But, take it from me, if you're there for a few days of summer fun you'll want to be right in the heart of Whistler Village – and that means Crystal Lodge & Suites. On-site parking is a bonus if you've driven up the Sea-to-Sky highway from Vancouver as we did, and I urge you to do it. It's one of the most spectacular drives in the world – 90 minutes of winding roads with the scenic wonders of ice-capped mountains, lakes and waterfalls.
Crystal Lodge & Suites caters for everyone, from couples to groups and families. For couples, the Deluxe Studio boasts a lounge room and separate bedroom. For groups of friends and families there are two- and three-bedroom suites – and the best part is, you'll enjoy great accommodation in the best location as everything is only a couple of minutes away.
To find out more about this gorgeous destination visit Tourism Whistler's website here.