If skiing is a dance which the mountain leads – as many purists would have you believe – then Whistler has hired the band.
Last year it was again awarded the title of best ski resort in North America amid an avalanche of accolades that have seen it sit atop the summit of global rankings for years.
All of which could be seen as something of a surprise, given the resort was named after the western hoary marmots who live among the rocks and whistle like deflating balloons.
Nestled between glaciers, razor-edged peaks and alpine gables, Whistler can easily lay claim to being the top resort in terms of luxury, given that it is blessed with huge stashes of powder that can be found hidden on the two mountains and back-country terrains, providing the nest o -piste fun on the planet. Nobody has ever complained about a resort having too much snow.
And soaring through the valleys of Western Canada’s Coast Mountains in search of the deep, pristine runs for which this westernmost province of British Columbia is famous remains one of the most exhilarating adrenaline rushes possible.
Yet, while the scenic wonder and excitement of skiing down the Whistler
and Blackcomb Mountains will leave you gasping, the grandeur of the Fairmont Chateau Whistler is guaranteed to take your breath away.
Renovations set to be unveiled this season at the landmark ski-in and ski-out hotel include the new 600-square-foot Alpine Suites – situated on the highest floors to allow jaw-dropping views of the surrounding peaks.
The Fairmont also boasts Isabel Chung as executive chef, overseeing the resort’s Four Diamond rated culinary experience, The Grill Room, alongside a host of other alpine and fondue dining opportunities.
Or, for a hint more luxury amidst the slopes, why not try to land a suite at Nita Lake Lodge – voted the number one resort in Canada by readers of Conde Nast Traveler and boasting 77 suites – each with king-sized beds and double soaker tubs to relax in after a day on the powder.
Whistler and Blackcomb Mountain peaks were linked in 2008 with the opening of the brand new PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola.
Today, this multi-record-breaking lift allows skiers, snowboarders and, in the summer, hikers faster access to the dazzling terrain on both mountains.
But far from resting on its laurels, the resort has gone even further than any other rival in the thrill-seeking stakes by adding baseboarding at Whistler Olympic Park. The first of its kind on the continent, the experience offers a hybrid of the sport of skeleton, bodyboarding on snow and traditional tobogganing where daredevil riders point their bodies down the slope on aerodynamic boards.
For those still wanting more, Head-Line Mountain Holidays will whisk you away in a helicopter for expeditions on the Pemberton Ice cap. Go to whistlerblackcomb.com for a full list of mountain activities.
Guests can take on snowmobile safaris, dine over six courses of gourmet cuisine in the heart of an ice cave before pampering themselves at a natural hot spring.
Most people think that using the most expensive lift pass in the world – a helicopter – to ski untouched powder is decadent. They are right, but it is also a serious business.
So serious, in fact, that other activities include sled-skiing, mountain bonfires, wilderness yoga and heli-rafting. Added to all of this is the chance for some real glamping with guides.
Whistler Blackcomb is blessed with two of the greatest mountains providing the nest skiing opportunities in the world, and so much of it. You would not have to ski the same run twice in a fortnight here, let alone need
a helicopter to explore the back country.
But this vibrant village has far more to it. Whistler is now home to the permanent collection of British Columbia art at the Audain Art Museum, showcasing an astonishing collection of nineteenth-century First Nation masks, as well as a selection of Andy Warhol and Diego Rivera pieces. Whistler is also home to the cream of Canada’s leading chefs, with Melissa Craig of the Bearfoot Bistro leading the line.
In fact, no visit to Whistler is complete without an evening at the Bearfoot Bistro. As the resort’s premier fine dining restaurant, Craig creates spectacular meals daily, and the experience even offers you the chance to try your hand at sabering a bottle of Champagne in the 20,000-bottle wine cellar – or cooling things down in the Ketel One Ice Room, the coldest vodka tasting room in the world.
If you can judge a man by his grooming habits, the same is also true of a mountain.
As part of ongoing improvements Whistler has invested £1.9 million to boost its piste manicuring fleet, with seven new model Pisten Bully grooming cats.
Which all goes to show that when it comes to staying at the top, nowhere is it harder than in the mountains.