Looking at visiting Whistler in winter but have never skied (or seen snow) before? Well I did just that, and had a blast. Read on to find out what we did, where we stayed and what we ate!
We recently travelled through Canada during Winter and had an absolute blast despite visiting during their brutally cold winter! Like any enthusiastic world travellers, we spent a great deal of time researching the cities we were visiting before we left home. One common theme we found was that that a lot of the resources and guides didn’t exactly specialise in Winter travel.
So, here’s our answer to that! An Aussie’s guide to surviving & enjoying Canada in Winter. This is the second part of the series and our second Canadian destination – Whistler!
The Whistler Lowdown:
We spent three glorious days skiing and snowboarding our way down Whistler and Blackcomb mountains and absolutely loved every minute of it. Whistler was our favourite stop on our trip and we only wish we could have spent more time in this beautiful snow town!
Although Adam is a very confident snowboarder, I had never skied before, and we decided to only book a few days in Whistler on the off chance I absolutely hated it. That certainly didn’t end up being the case!
We first arrived late in the afternoon from Vancouver, and spent the afternoon acquainting ourselves with the hotel and it’s surrounds. We also organised our ski and snowboard hire which was excruciatingly expensive. If you’ve never been on a skiing holiday let me be the first to say EVERYTHING is expensive. Given your options are limited up in the mountains, prices for pretty much everything is inflated to what I would call “airport prices”. This was certainly not the cheap part of our trip, and the hire for a ski and snowboards alone easily exceeded $600.
We also organised lessons for me for the next day, opting for a group lesson from Max4 to help me masters the basics. Whilst this was necessary, and I wouldn’t have been able to attempt skiing without it, it also was pricey! I believe it was $250 for one full day lesson with the group.
They recommend spending about 3 days in lessons but given we were only there for 3 days and I actually wanted to spend that time with Adam, I opted for one day and hoped I’d learn enough to get me through. The biggest problem with group lessons is your groups collective ability can limit how much you learn. My group was rather slow at picking things up and as a result we got through the whole day without learning all that much.
Even though it was significantly more expensive, I’d opt for a private lesson in future. It would allow you to cover a lot more than the group and going on a skiing holiday is already so expensive that you at least want to be able to hit the slopes with some confidence and enjoy yourself.
After that first day I could barely turn, but I could stop myself and manoeuvre awkwardly down a trail. Naturally I thought my abilities were far superior and set off on the second day to do some green runs with Adam. We got on the first chair lift we saw and after we were on it for about 10 minutes and it didn’t look to be stopping anytime soon, my inaptitude dawned on me and I realised there was no way I was going to be able to ski down a run that far. We decided to head back down but first we had to dismount from the chair lift and make our way to the other side to get back on it. Having never tried this before, I fell immediately on my butt and couldn’t get up. I cried and vowed never to ski again, and then we got back on the chair lift to the ground.
Adam persuaded me into giving it another shot, and after a couple of goes on the beginner’s practice run, I was ready to take on something more and we found a run that was perfect (up the Magic Chair on Blackcomb). We spent the next day and a half on this run, and we loved it. Each time I got a little more confident, and my absolute favourite part was the steep hill right at the end. I’d wait until all the foot traffic had cleared and slide on down at full speed. It was a blast!
Whilst I’m sure for the more seasoned skiers and snowboarders this might sound like a boring way to spend our time, it was perfect for us. We got to be silly and have fun, and I didn’t need to cry every 5 minutes out of fear I was going to die.
After a day spent carving up the world’s easiest trail we were well and truly spent and didn’t really do many other extra-curricular activities. We did discover an amazing restaurant, the Mongolie Grill, and regretted that we didn’t find it sooner. You essentially pop all the raw ingredients and sauce you want in a bowl, then a chef grills it for you right there on the spot. It was one of the best stir fries I’ve ever had!
We also hit up our hotel’s free hot chocolate bar every afternoon and tried to make our own smores one night which turned out to be a disaster for two Aussies who had no idea what they were doing. Oh, and we also indulged in a late afternoon massage at our hotel’s day spa too which was AMAZING. But when is being pampered not amazing?
We had a whole range of weather during our stay too! The first day was absolutely perfect and clear. The second day was so foggy you couldn’t see a metre in front of you. And the third day it was snowing like crazy. That made it even more fun as we got to experience a bit of everything. Especially snow falling, which was my first time ever seeing that! WOW! I don’t think I could ever get sick of seeing that.
All in all, I’d say our time in Whistler was perfect, albeit EXPENSIVE (just in case you hadn’t picked up on that theme yet) and we’d love to go back some day! If you’re planning a visit, make sure you factor in a little wiggle room on the budget to avoid spending the entire time stressing over the cost of everything and just enjoy yourself. That’s what holidays are for!
Sleeps, eats and deets:
How we got there:
We caught a Whistler Connection bus which picked us up from our hotel in Vancouver and took us to our hotel in Whistler. Around a 2-hour trip. We also caught this bus back to Vancouver to move on to our next destination.
Where we stayed:
What we did:
Where we ate:
- Sidecut – This was our hotel’s restaurant and we ate breakfast here every day. It wasn’t spectacularly good, we were just too lazy to venture out early in the morning to find other options. Just keeping it real guys!
- Four Seasons Room Service – What can we say, we were wrecked after skiing and just wanted to eat food in our PJs! The club sandwich really hit the spot.
- Mongolie Grill – Make your own stir fry restaurant. Whatever you do, GO HERE! It is amazing. Relatively cheap for Whistler and the food was so fresh.
Planning a visit to Canada?
This is the second post in our 7-part series of An Aussie’s guide to surviving & enjoying Canada in Winter. Be sure to check out our recap of Vancouver if you haven’t already.