Much to the apprehension and anxiety of my mother, I left for Whistler shortly after my 19th birthday with plans to live and work for three months over the winter season; the perfect amount of time to learn to snowboard, have a little adventure and be back for the start of my second year in fashion design. However, Whistler had other plans…
Three months turned to six, six to a year and finally, a solid eighteen months, later I was back in Australia. But I was far from done with the resort town. The snow, the love of the mountain and ‘free-spirit’ energy of this city was always on my mind and is why, now at 25 years of age, I am back in Whistler to call it home.
THE DRIVE UP
Arguably one of the most scenic drives in the world, The Sea to Sky Highway starts in Vancouver and winds its way deep into the coastal mountains to Whistler and beyond. With mountains on your right and the ocean on your left, the 2-hour drive offers views of glaciers, river valleys, and old-growth rainforests.
Local Tip: If the weather is nice, stop in Squamish to ride the Sea To Sky Gondola (cable car) up Chief. Here you will see epic views of the where the ocean meets the river mouth before the final ascent into the mountains.
WHERE TO STAY
Nita Lake Lodge. A luxury boutique hotel with lakefront views nestled just outside of Creekside (Whistler’s original village) and walking distance to the chairlifts. With free hotel shuttle buses to the main village, you get the best of both worlds, a room with a view of the beaten track and easy access to the action.
WHERE TO EAT
Not your average ski town, Whistler is home to some of the best restaurants in British Columbia. As locals, we are spoilt to live in a small town but have all the luxuries of city dining.
Araxi Restaurant + Oyster Bar: Araxi is located in the heart of Whistler village and offers fresh and innovative cuisine from the Pacific Northwest region. Local farmers grow produce exclusively for Araxi's chef, who also makes good use of regional cheeses, game, and fish. Although upmarket the atmosphere is casual and inviting.
Local Tip: In winter they open their doors at 3 pm to offer an après special you cannot miss: 10 of the best locally sourced oyster for $18. Combine this with a glass of wine from Araxi’s award-winning selection, and a recap of your day on the slopes - life doesn’t get much better.
Bar OSO: Under the same group as Araxi, Bar OSO is an intimate Spanish tapas bar serving locally sourced food alongside a killer cocktail list. The best seats are at the bar where you can watch both the bartenders mixing drinks and chefs cooking your food.
Local Tip: With only 32 seats it is strictly a walk-in basis, so put your name down early and expect to wait an hour. Well worth it for the charcuterie boards, the head chefs signature octopus dish and the OSO Sour.
Christine's: As for on-mountain dining, you can’t miss Christine’s. Located at the top of Blackcomb mountain, the restaurant serves classic comfort food with panoramic views of the valley.
Rimrock Cafe: Rimrock is a Whistler institution. An Award-winning restaurant, Rimrock has been serving fresh game and seafood since 1986. The cozy log cabin interior makes you feel at home in an instant and the food will leave you speechless.
Local Tip: If you are on Whistler and wondering how to get to Blackcomb take the Peak to Peak Gondola, a 12-minute cable car ride that connects the two mountain peaks. An engineering feat, this experience is truly one of a kind.
WHERE TO RELAX:
Every local knows that the ultimate way to unwind after a long day on the slopes is at Scandinave Spa Whistler. Indulge in the traditional Finish hydrotherapy baths to experience total body and mind relaxation. With mountain views, a strict ‘no talking’ policy and snow softly falling, you will quickly fall into deep relaxation.
FOR THE ADVENTUROUS SPIRIT:
Heli-Skiing If you are a looking for the pinnacle of the Whistler skiing experience then definitely book a day heli-skiing. With millions of acres of skiable terrain in Whistler's backcountry, there will be no problem finding fresh powder runs all day long.
Snow Sledding: For any longtime local the lure the fresh powder in backcountry becomes irresistible, and to access it one needs a snowmobile. Get a taste of the fun with a sledding tour through the beautiful Callahan valley. Explore a new mountain and ride the trail up to a log cabin for a Yukon breakfast.
SOMETHING FOR THE KIDS
The most fun kids will have in Whistler apart from skiing or snowboarding is the Coca-Cola Tube Park. Fly down the eight runs that have been carved from the snow while listening to old-school classics playing over the radio. It's something fun for the kids but I guarantee you will love it too.
WHEN TO BOOK:
Start the planning now so you can lock in early bird deals for hotels, ski passes, and tours. The best time to travel to Whistler in winter is mid-January after the Christmas crowds have dissipated. Whistler can be so busy so the less time waiting in lines the better.
Start the planning here
staying cosy in sassind
I have been living in my cashmere and merino items almost every day in Whistler. Leggings and slippers for the cold mornings, cashmere turtlenecks that are SO warm and my merino wrap as a shawl in restaurants, a blanket at home and as a scarf out in the cold.