Winter in Whistler

A gold medal experience at the home of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games

As you walk through Whistler Village at the base of the towering Canadian Coast Mountains, you could easily think you were strolling in the Swiss Alps. But with just a single

plane ride from Honolulu and a picturesque hour-and-a-half drive from Vancouver, one trip to this winter wonderland can spare you that long flight to Europe.

The town of Whistler is home to two ski mountains, Whistler and Blackcomb, with more than 8,100 acres of skiable terrain, three spectacular glaciers and 12 alpine bowls. Exploring trails on both mountains has become even easier with the launch of the “Peak 2 Peak” Gondola, which carries skiers between the mid-mountain peaks of the two resort towns. An adventure in itself, the views from this new, world record-breaking gondola are breathtaking, and if your timing is right, you may get to enjoy the ride in one of the resorts’ glass-bottom gondola cars as it takes you as high as 1,427-feet above ground.

While there are more than enough beginner and intermediate runs for cautious skiers to enjoy, the advanced trails of Blackcomb leave adrenaline junkies weak in the knees. If you fall into this category and are lucky enough to get a big snow during your trip, head straight up to Spanky’s Ladder, a short hike from the top of the Glacier Express chairlift, and enjoy deep powder on some of the world’s best open terrain. The mountain’s famous double black diamond, Couloir Extreme, a nearly vertical 2,500-foot chute, is also sure to test your limits.

For the non-downhill skier or snowboarder, Whistler Resort offers endless activities, including magnificent hiking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. The resort also is home to Ziptreck Eco-tours, the “No. 1 Zipline Tour in North America.” Operating year-round, the thrilling adventure takes you through a network of cables and suspension bridges as you glide over the treetops. For the kids, don’t miss the backcountry dog sled tours – a day spent riding behind these adorable Alaskan Huskies is truly un-forgettable.

After a long day on the mountain, settle into world-class luxury at one of Whistler’s many renowned hotels and lodges. The Fairmont Chateau Whistler has been a longtime favorite among regulars since it opened in 1989, and its grand architecture makes it ones of Whistler’s best-known landmarks. Located just steps from the ski lifts, no property beats the location of this five-star hotel.

Relatively new to the scene, the Four Seasons Resort Whistler, which opened in 2005, is giving the Chateau a run for its money. With top-notch service and fireplaces and balconies in every room, the Four Seasons is another great luxury accommodation. If the five-minute walk to the slopes is a deterrent, the hotel’s complimentary ski valet may change your mind. Not only do these unique valets help you in and out of your skis each day, they also provide daily insider tips about the mountain and snow conditions.

Second to the great mountains, Whistler is famous for its quaint and lively village. Bar-hopping and window shopping can’t get much easier in this pedestrian-only place; it truly is one of the best ski towns in the world. For dinner, Barefoot Bistro, with five-star food in an unpretentious atmosphere, is not to be missed. Complete with a stylish champagne bar, it has been said that Barefoot Bistro sells more champagne than any other restaurant in Canada. For a slightly more formal but equally excellent dining option in Whistler Village, the internationally acclaimed Araxi lives up to its reputation and features local farm-grown produce and fresh fish and game from the province.

Complete with world-famous ski terrain, luxurious accommodations and a picture-perfect ski village, it’s no surprise that the International Olympic Committee picked Whistler as home base for many of the 2010 Winter Olympic events. Olympic excitement will take place Feb. 12-28; the resort will serve as the Official Alpine skiing venue for the 2010 Winter Games. Lucky for Whistler regulars and new visitors, however, more than 90 percent of the mountain will still be open for exploring the slopes.

Whistler Booking Information

Whistler/Blackcomb Resort www.whistlerblackcomb.com

The Fairmont Chateau Whistler www.fairmont.com/whistler

The Four Seasons Resort Whistler www.fourseasons.com/whistler/

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