Adventure Differently in Whistler This Winter
With snowflakes falling and lifts slated to open in just under two weeks, many of us are dreaming of mountain adventures and imagining the thrill of that first run of the season.
Just in time to chase that feeling again, Whistler is inviting skiers and snowboarders — and those who simply enjoy a crackling fire and gorgeous alpine views — to adventure differently this winter.
There’s no doubt things have changed, but the experience of being in the mountains, breathing fresh air and feeling the wind nipping at our cheeks while zooming down a powder-filled slope — that one-of-a-kind feeling is forever unchanged.
Keep your passion for the mountains alive as you discover Whistler’s new pace. Here’s how to maximize your fun at the resort, benefit from enhanced safety measures and travel consciously in this winter wonderland.
The great outdoors have never felt greater
Trading ski days for sourdough recipes forced a novel perspective on all of us — being stuck at home is no fun. Connecting with nature and pursuing unforgettable moments (read: dropping everything for a powder day) has never been more important to our health and well-being. Our lust for adventure is real — and Whistler literally has mountains of it.
After all, Whistler is a place of superlative experiences: Two mountains with more than 200 runs. The most skiable terrain (8,171 acres) and highest vertical (5,280 feet) in North America. Its Peak 2 Peak Gondola is the most extensive continuous lift system in the world, spanning 4.4 kilometres between the massive Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains.
An average winter brings more than 11 metres of the white stuff. But this winter isn’t sizing up to be average — La Nina is on her way. The weather pattern, occurring once every three to five years, brings increased precipitation and colder temperatures, which in Whistler translates into massive snowfall and a season that will stretch from November-April … or longer.
The result is a winter’s worth of challenges for all abilities, making Whistler the perfect place for skiing and snowboarding newcomers, adrenaline junkies and everyone in between.
It’s not all about the skiing
Sure, the skiing in Whistler is in a class of its own, but that’s just the start of the fun. Over the years Whistler has evolved to cater to many different tastes.
For non-ski activities, there’s tubing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing and ziplining — an exhilarating experience soaring high above old-growth forests.
Try ice skating in the Village at Whistler Olympic Plaza, where admission is free with skate rentals and twinkling fairy lights set the mood. The bobsledding track is also open and brave souls can reach up to 125 kph.
For something more luxurious, invigorate your body and mind in a cycle of hot baths, refreshing rinses and relaxation at the Scandinave Spa. Afterwards, check out the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre, where visitors can learn about the history and culture of local First Nations through art and exhibits.
Safety on and off the slopes
Skiing and snowboarding are socially distanced by nature — they take place outside with plenty of fresh air and wide-open slopes. Face coverings and gloves are already standard-issue attire. But if you’re counting the days until you feel the adrenaline rush of carving turns, know that Whistler has reimagined the resort experience for this winter.
To help keep locals and fellow guests safe this winter, visitors are asked to enjoy patiently, explore responsibly, interact considerately, play simply and respect COVID-19 protocols in place. The spirit of travelling consciously extends from the slopes to the Village and in lodging, restaurants and shops.
Masks will be mandatory in lift lines and should be worn inside local businesses, in busy outdoor spaces and when walking along the Village Stroll. Practice physical distancing even on the mountain (think of it as keeping a ski length apart). You’ll also load chairlifts and gondolas only with those in your group. If you’re solo, lift attendants will space you out appropriately.
Plan your ski days ahead of time
Whistler Blackcomb is limiting the number of skiers and snowboarders on the mountain to manage volume and keep everyone safe. Whether you’re a pass holder or just want to ski a single day, you’ll have to plan in advance and make a reservation.
Pass holders — including those with Epic, WB Unlimited, Edge Card and Whistler Blackcomb Day Passes — get up to seven Priority Reservation Days and seven Week-of Reservation Days. Pass holders also receive early-season access to Whistler Blackcomb when it opens on Nov. 26, before lift tickets go on sale to the general public on Dec. 8. When you buy a lift ticket, it automatically comes with a reservation for the day it’s purchased.
Passes are only available in advance of the season and they offer significant savings and advantages over in-season lift tickets.
Making reservations is another new-normal adjustment that takes a bit of time to wrap your head around and, while it’s not the winter to drop in on a whim, the change will mean smaller crowds, a lack of lines and more fresh tracks to go around.
Extend your stay and choose the best times
The only thing wrong with a quick trip to Whistler is that it goes by, well, too quickly. With limitless options and an extraordinary season to experience the resort without international tourists, this is the year for an extended stay.
Longer stays are another way to travel consciously, taking time for yourself to see and do everything on your checklist without feeling rushed. Whistler rewards longer stays with better deals on accommodations and lift tickets, too.
Or consider the new work-cation trend. With flexible and remote workdays becoming the norm, you can stay connected to the office while sneaking in first tracks and lunch laps on the slopes.
Rethink the weekend and holiday hustle this winter. Visiting Whistler midweek and during off-peak periods can offer a better overall experience with a quieter resort and more added-value deals. If you have a longer trip, opt to ski on the off-peak days and choose other activities off the mountain on weekends and holidays.
The same goes with planning your day. At Whistler, early risers get the parking, shortest lift lines and the quietest skiing experience. Catch the first lift at 8:30 a.m. or enjoy a coffee and wait until late morning to avoid the crowds. Skip the noon-hour lunch and instead pack snacks to ward off a rumbling tummy — you’ll be rewarded with empty chairs and wide-open runs.
Whistler’s culinary scene still rules with rules
Food and drink is an essential part of any great ski vacation. With new measures in place, Whistler’s award-winning dining scene is stepping up to safely satisfy cravings on the mountain and in the Village.
Prepare your taste buds for more grab-and-go meals at on-mountain eateries with an increase in outdoor seating options. Dining al fresco is the best way to take in Whistler’s spectacular views. Expect interiors to be arranged spaciously to accommodate distancing measures.
At the end of the day, rehash your adventures and indulge in Whistler’s flavours from casual apres snacks to elevated fare with a variety of dining options, including spacious indoors, patio seating, takeout and delivery available throughout the resort. While many restaurants, pubs and cafes will be open, don’t forget to make a reservation. Capacity will be limited so consider dining earlier or later than usual or opting for a grab-and-go meal.
Know before you go
The sky is the limit in Whistler but it’s more important than ever to plan ahead. Whistler rewards the early bird with lower prices, plus you get to schedule your perfect escape.
Knowing what you want to get out of your trip will maximize the fun so be sure to check out the Whistler Insider blog, a great resource with helpful information to start planning your winter adventures.
To find out what else you need to know before your visit, check out Whistler’s Doors Open Directory. It’s a one-stop destination with up-to-date details on what is open in Whistler, including available activities, dining, lodging, shopping, transportation and wellness, plus what local businesses are doing to make things safe.
Book your winter vacation by Dec. 1 and save up to 40% on lodging and packages. With more than 100 lodging options, from family-friendly condos to ski-in/ski-out luxury resorts, this is your chance to lock in the best prices this season — and give yourself a reward to look forward to after making it through so much time at home.