If this year’s frigid temperatures have made the ski slopes seem a little less appealing, take heart. We’re about to dive into the absolute best time of all on the hills – spring skiing! And there’s no better place than Whistler/Blackcomb to hit the snow.
They say that at Whistler/Blackcomb, you can ski three seasons in one run and that’s no exaggeration. Take the gondola to the top of the mountain and you could find yourself in the midst of swirling snow and driving wind – a mini-blizzard blowing up piles of wintery fresh powder all around you. Hit one of the many bowls and sink into powdery dream skiing. As you reach the halfway mark on the mountain, you’ll find the terrain tamed and the snow softened where the groomers have smoothed the runs into perfect spring ski conditions. By the time you finish the run, gliding triumphantly into Whistler Village, you’ll discover the outdoor patio tables in full-on summer mode, packed with those who’ve decided to get their exercise by raising a pint or a glass. One run – three seasons.
With more than 200 marked runs, 8,171 acres of terrain, 16 alpine bowls, and three glaciers (and one of the best slope side restaurants ever – don’t miss the truffle fries at Steeps!) Whistler and Blackcomb mountains combine to create one of the world’s most outstanding ski destinations. Add to that the recent increase in lift facilities made possible by an enormous infusion of financial support from owner Vail Resorts Inc. and the result is spectacular. For 2018-2019, the company invested a stunning CAD$66 million to add three new lifts to the centre of the resort. On Whistler’s slopes, the new six-person Emerald Express chair has eased the lineups in the Family Ski Zone, while Blackcomb lovers have been treated to a high-speed, four-person Catskinner chair. Access to Blackcomb has been made easier – and faster, warmer and drier, as well – by the addition of a 10-person gondola, from the Upper Village to the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola connection. Love mountain hiking or biking? This gondola will offer a fully-sheltered route up Blackcomb year-round.
It's epic… just like the ski pass deals available through Vail Resorts Inc. Do the math – a one-day, bought-at-the-wicket ski pass for Whistler/Blackcomb can be more than $160 but a bit of planning ahead can reap incredible savings. Start with an online, Epic Day pass for Whistler/Blackcomb and the price will be $106 – already you’ve saved a bundle. Plan to ski more than one day this season or next? Currently the Epic Local Pass, ($699) will give you access to thirty of the top resorts in the world while the full-on Epic Pass ($939) gives you access to more than 65 outstanding ski resorts across the globe, from Rusutu, Japan to Hotham, Australia. With the exception of a few holiday restrictions, these passes offer unlimited skiing so if you’re a true addict, congratulations! You’ve just hit the lift ticket jackpot.
Nita Lake Lodge
And what about your non-skiing travel mate? No need to feel any guilt about bringing them along on a Whistler ski getaway. While you’re pounding those moguls or diving into the powder, there’s a world of entertainment for the non-skier, from shopping in the funky Whistler Village boutiques, to lolling at the Scandinave Spa, a 20,000 sq. ft. outdoorsy combination of saunas, steam rooms, bubbly jacuzzi pools combined with glacial (but very quick!) showers and plunge pools as well as cozy relaxation areas. A day pass entitles you to sizzle and cool and generally bliss out for a whole day or evening.
Non-skiers who still want to be outdoorsy and active have a huge range of options – from snowmobiling to snowshoeing or – my personal passion – snow ziplining at Superfly by the Adventure Group. While you certainly can do your zipping in the daylight, I highly recommend the Superfly Twilight Tour, a dusk-to-dark timeline designed to let you experience the mind-bending thrill of jumping off a treetop platform, high in the air and flying through the blackness towards the lights on the platforms, far ahead. This tour features two of Canada’s longest ziplines, each over a kilometre long and 600 feet high. Hold on tight! You could hit speeds of 100km /hour!
Speaking of flying, if the budget is a bit flexible, consider a once-in-a-lifetime helicopter flight over the mountains with Blackcomb Helicopters. There’s nothing like viewing the entire, majestic sweep of peaks to make you realize how really tiny we all actually are.
Nita Lake Lodge
Whistler/Blackcomb will keep you busy, on or off the slopes….so busy, in fact, that by the end of the day, you’ll be both starved and exhausted. No problem. There’s a hidden haven ready to take care of you on all counts – the Nita Lake Lodge. Tucked away from the Whistler Village craziness in the more relaxed Creekside area, Nita Lake Lodge is the kind of award-winning boutique hotel that prides itself on thinking of everything. From the free shuttle that takes you straight to the hills, to the ultra-luxurious spa where your tight ski muscles can be massaged back into submission, to the delicious collection of restaurants, Nita Lake Lodge is the ultimate retreat. Drop your ski gear off in the lobby to be stored until next morning, then head to your cozy suite. Flick on the fireplace, gaze out at the frozen lake, put your feet up and try to decide what kind of dining you’re up for tonight.
Feeling a bit foodie-fancy? Chef James Olberg at Aura Restaurant is waiting to dazzle you with cuisine that turns locally sourced ingredients into pure magic. Don’t worry about dressing up – even the sculpted reindeer on the walls are just wearing sweaters. If something even more laid-back is what you’re craving, go for the best burger in Whistler at Cure Lounge, Nita Lake’s answer to the ultimate après ski wind-down. Featuring comfy seating and a relaxed vibe, combined with great finger foods and other casual fare, Cure is a place you might find hard to leave…but when you do, you’ll discover one more treat in store. A special sleep-focused package focused on encouraging the ultimate in relaxation includes a bottle of fragrant lavender bubble bath to use in your suite’s massive soaker tub, a bedside roller-ball tube of sleep-inducing essential oils and a Scandinavian-style ‘sleep pillow’ filled with soothing tree scents to help lull you into the best slumber of your life.
Think spring skiing is sounding pretty appealing? If you fly into Vancouver and catch the airport shuttle to Whistler, you can be on the slopes in just over two hours.
For more information on:
- Vaile Resorts Inc. and the Epic Pass www.snow.com
- Nita Lake Lodge www.nitalakelodge.com 1-888-755-6482
- Blackcomb Helicopters: www.blackcombaviation.com
- Scandinave Spa: www.scandinave.com/en/whistler
- The Adventure Group (ziplining): www.tagwhistler.com or www.superflyziplines.com
Written by Liz Flemming (Cruise and Travel Lifestyles, 2019)