The World-Class Resort: Whistler, British Columbia
Taking the 2.7-mile ride on the Peak 2 Peak Gondola, the highest lift of its kind in the world, is a good way to understand why skiers from across the globe make the pilgrimage to Whistler Blackcomb, 80 miles north of Vancouver, B.C. Through picture windows a tableau of coastal rain forest, volcanic peaks, and the white ribbons of more than 200 ski runs unfurls below. Welcome to one of the continent’s largest ski areas.
The superlative resort is part of an even deeper draw: the town of Whistler, a pedestrian-only village with a festive vibe that attracts a diverse international clientele. And, thanks to the 2010 Olympic Games, a long menu of unusual off-slope activities entices visitors as well. The Whistler Sliding Centre offers bobsled rides—driver included—that whip passengers around 10 turns at over 75 miles per hour. Whistler Olympic Park maintains more than 50 miles of tree-lined cross-country ski and snowshoe trails and gives biathlon lessons. For a mellower escape, enjoy the hot baths, waterfalls, and steam rooms of the Scandinave Spa.
Come evening, people congregate in Whistler’s packed center. Bars such as the Longhorn Saloon & Grill and Garibaldi Lift Company Bar & Grill (“GLC” to locals) teem with tuckered vacationers. La Cantina serves fancy tacos with fillings such as pork cochinita sprinkled with spicy pickled red onions. Even a simple stroll through town, maple shave ice in hand, makes a fun diversion. “It feels like you’re walking through a snow globe,” says Olympic snowboarder and Whistler resident Mercedes Nicoll. Happily, these tidy homes and picture-perfect mountains aren’t make-believe.—Kate Siber