North America’s largest ski resort is also one of the most fun. Whether you want to spend all day on the mountain or you’d rather explore arts, culture, dining and shopping, Whistler, Canada, has it all. With more than 8,000 acres of skiable terrain and hundreds of groomed runs, there is something for every ability level, plus a super social après-ski scene in Whistler Village. This is the first winter that all borders are fully open post-pandemic, so international travelers are back in full force, especially for the Peak to Valley Race and the Whistler Pride and Ski Festival.
Whistler’s most iconic stay has just completed a $14-million renovation of its 364 guest rooms. The modern mountain chalet aesthetic includes rich sustainable hardwoods and state-of-the-art technology as well as ski-in/ski-out access to multiple lifts and complimentary ski storage. The Mallard Lounge is the hottest après-ski spot, so cozy up beside the fireplace to enjoy live music and people watching.
Discerning guests will appreciate the 96 Fairmont Gold rooms for a “hotel within a hotel” on a private floor and access to an exclusive lounge stocked with culinary treats all day. Serious skiers can grab individual Le Creuset ramekins of frittata and bread pudding before hitting the slopes, then sip pre-dinner drinks at sunset with Whistler Blackcomb views. Fairmont Gold rooms also offer a sensory aromatherapy shower experience with Skinjay essential oil capsules designed for party, play, detox or sleep. Sweet dreams.
Every resort offers ski lessons, but it’s not often that you get the chance to take a private lesson with an Olympic skier or snowboarder. At Whistler Blackcomb, a dozen different athletes who competed in events ranging from snowboard halfpipe to freestyle mogul skiing will take you out for the day so you can follow their tracks through fresh powder. Perfect your technique with tips from world-class pros like Ashleigh McIvor, the first gold medalist in the sport of ski cross when it debuted at the 2010 Vancouver games.
Skiers and snowboarders of all abilities are welcome, with both individual and small group lessons available. I recently skied with 2010 Olympian Robbie Dixon, and although we just cruised along intermediate blue runs, he quickly helped me get back on my feet after several years away from the sport — plus his stories and local recommendations were priceless.
Styled after a mountainside cabin with stone hearths and reclaimed woods, Braidwood Tavern captures the laidback luxury Whistler is known for. The well-dressed marmot mascot on the menu is Uncle Bruce, the eatery’s imaginary owner and consummate host. His cheeky irreverence is reflected in the casual yet delicious shared plates, including duck poutine, hot fried chicken wings and a variety of flatbreads to be savored alongside the excellent selection of British Columbia beers on tap.
There’s an extensive vegan menu that’s just as tasty, with highlights like roasted tomato soup, plant-based rigatoni bolognese, and green pea and zucchini coconut curry. If you’re looking for an indulgent après cocktail, try one of the spiked hot chocolates inspired by destinations from the North Pole to Japan (think matcha hot chocolate with strawberry ginger bitters and Japanese whiskey) paired with signature “spudnuts” — warm potato sugared doughnuts that coat your fingers like snow.
This private museum debuted in 2016 and today showcases a permanent collection of nearly 200 artworks from coastal British Columbia creatives. Highlights include landscape paintings by Emily Carr and larger-than-life sculptures and traditional wood carvings by First Nations artists. Dominating the first gallery is Haida master carver James Hart’s “The Dance Screen (The Scream Too),” an elaborately detailed red cedar dance screen with shimmering abalone inlay that celebrates the important role of salmon within Indigenous communities and the natural ecosystem.
The museum’s minimalist, angular architecture is both artful and environmentally friendly, raised on concrete stilts so as not to disturb the forest and floodplain below, with a long, glazed walkway from the skylit entryway to the galleries. Upcoming exhibitions include a collection of Dutch and Flemish prints. Browse the shop on your way out for a beautifully curated assemblage of objets d’art, jewelry and gifts by local creatives.
One of the city’s most venerable restaurants, Il Caminetto opened its doors more than 40 years ago and was recently reinvented by Toptable Group, with refreshed interiors inspired by ski chalets, including oversize leather booths and a split-face stone fireplace. Request one of those sumptuous booths when making your reservation for the most intimate and comfortable seats in the house. The staff exudes classic Italian hospitality, greeting every guest like an old friend.
Begin with Italian salumi and a selection of cheese while trying to decide between the lobster linguine and the wild mushroom risotto. The award-winning wine list focuses on Italian regions and British Columbia bottles, with dozens of options available by the glass. Try a Brunello di Montalcino or Painted Rock Estate Winery’s flagship red blend to pair with hearty winter favorites like Quebec veal chop and bistecca alla fiorentina.
Serenity is the name of the game at this iconic Nordic hydrotherapy spa. Cell phones, conversation and children are strictly verboten to ensure the most peaceful and rejuvenating experience possible. The self-guided experience alternates between hot and cold hydrotherapy to boost immunity and circulation.
First, sweat out toxins and dilate blood vessels in a Finnish sauna, hot-jetted pool or eucalyptus steam room, then take a quick dip in a cold plunge bath or under a waterfall to close pores, release endorphins and increase your heart rate. Finally, relax in the solarium or fireplace lounge and just breathe. Repeat as many cycles as you like before noshing on local vegan snacks in the cafe. It’s rare to find time to truly disconnect; Scandinave gently pushes you to escape the daily grind and soak up the subtle beauty in the sights, sounds and smells of nature.