Whistler is something of a gleaming jewel in the Canadian winter crown. Luring thousands of snow-worshippers each year from across the world, the famous winter season is upon us once again. Running from late November through May 2020, skiers and snowboarders will pound the slopes, apres-ski in style, and embrace everything that’s great about British Columbia in winter.
Ahead of the winter 19/20 season, we check out what’s new and trending in Whistler this winter in this guide to Whistler
Late November will see the first day of skiing and snowboarding. The new 10-passenger Blackcomb Gondola was unveiled last December. This gondola keeps guests warm and dry as it ascends from the base of Blackcomb Mountain to the top of the mountain adjacent to Rendezvous Lodge and the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola.
Together – the Blackcomb Gondola, PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola, and Whistler Village Gondola – form the first three-gondola connection in the world. Additional lift upgrades last year provide quicker, easier access to all levels of terrain including a six-passenger high-speed chairlift in place of the old four-passenger Emerald Express chair in the Family Ski Zone on Whistler mountain and on Blackcomb Mountain.
Axe throwing is the new apres-ski
There’s a lumberjack inside everyone, so what better way to embrace it than to head for Forged Axe Throwing? In something of a Canadian alternative to darts, participants throw axes at a target with the goal of hitting a bullseye. Forged has quickly become one of the leading indoor attractions in Whistler, offering fun and raucous atmosphere and a friendly, British Columbian welcome. The team will provide all the training and guidance you need to get started, as well as recording all the results from the season’s leagues and tournaments. Just remember to wear plaid so you look the part!
Fine dining happens in an ice cave…
The Whistler dining scene has grown at a rapid pace during recent seasons, and winter 19/20 is looking to be no exception. The Blue Room (essentially a dining room in a stunning ice cave) is the result of a partnership between the Four Seasons Resort and Residences Whistler and Head-Line Mountain Holidays. Diners will first enjoy a helicopter ride before taking a guided tour around the spectacular ice sculptures. Once inside The Blue Room itself, Four Seasons’ Executive Sous Chef David Baarschers will serve up a five-course meal that truly celebrates the very best of British Columbia.
Meat-free Mondays are a thing!
While foodies in Whistler are more than well catered for, there’s always room for vegetarian and vegan options. The popular Aura Restaurant launched its three-course vegan dinner earlier this fall offering up beautifully prepared, local produce accompanied by an extensive wine selection. The butternut squash farro risotto comes highly recommended and the menu is sure to be a treat even for meat-lovers who fancy a flavourful alternative. While you’re there, grab a pre-dinner cocktail at Aura’s Cure Lounge.
A new pod hotel just landed…
Whistler has accommodation to suit every taste and budget, but the latest addition to the hotel scene follows the global ‘pod hotel’ trend. The Pangea Pod Hotel has somewhat redefined shared accommodation since opening its doors earlier this summer. Targeting solo travellers who want to mix cutting edge design of a boutique hotel while still experiencing the social vibe of a hostel, the hotel offers affordable and comfortable suites alongside 88 independent sleeping pods.
The Fire & Ice Show is back for 2019/20
Skier’s Plaza is THE place to be every Sunday night to witness a jaw-dropping display of ski and snowboard skills as part of the legendary Fire & Ice Show. Attracting some of the most talented skiers and riders around, the show sees participants jumping and flipping their way through blazing rings of fire, as a DJ spins upbeat tracks and fireworks crack and bang in the sky above. Prepare for a truly electrifying evening of entertainment!
Mountain-side apres-ski just got bigger and better…
The Roundhouse Umbrella Bar was completed for the 2017/18 season, and the 60-seat bar proved a popular place for skiers and snowboarders to relax and take in the mountainous surroundings. For this winter, an extended wooden deck capable of hosting large functions and accommodating even more guests has been added.
You can still relax and unwind in style…
Soothe those aching muscles at the Scandinave Spa where you can choose from one of the many massages and treatments on offer. Hop into hot tubs, cold plunge pools, and saunas, and hit the slopes refreshed and ready to go the very next day. The Vida Spa at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler is also a highly rated spa experience, ideal after a day on the slopes.
There’s high-end retail to check out…
Who doesn’t love a bit of retail therapy? In Whistler, you’ll find a huge selection of great shops selling everything from fine art to jewellery, and artisan foods to pottery. Hosted by The Westin Resort & Spa, the Whistler Winter Artisan Market runs throughout the winter months and is a great place to pick up some last-minute Christmas gifts or souvenirs.
Go zip-lining at twilight…
Whistler boasts some of the most stunning scenery anywhere in the world so why not enjoy a birds-eye view over the old forests and rugged landscape? There are two companies offering epic zip lining experiences in Whistler this winter. Ziptrek Ecotours boasts the longest zipline in North America at over 2 km long and their Twilight Tour is particularly popular with those skiing by day. Superfly Ziplines also provide plenty of opportunities to view Whistler from a different perspective. You can even choose to ride side by side with friends or family.
Dog Sledding is the perfect way to see the Canadian wilderness…
Whether you’re travelling as a group or enjoying a romantic break with your significant other, dog sledding is an extremely fun way to explore the Canadian backcountry. Either sit back and enjoy the ride or take the reins yourself and mush a team of Arctic snow dogs. Based in the Callaghan Valley, the Canadian Wilderness tour guides will guide you on an unforgettable Whistler expedition.
This Insider’s Guide to Whistler’s 2019/20 Season written by Rachael Hopwood Jarvis.