WHISTLER, CANADA: WORLD-CLASS OUTDOOR RECREATION
If you are a fan of skiing, snowboarding, or winter sports, then you would know that Whistler, Canada stands as one of the most desirable locations in the world. Each year it hosts over 2 million visitors who are there for more than just fresh powder. The Resort Municipality Of Whistler is situated in British Columbia’s Coast Mountain range, which means it has huge expanses of stunning landscape for year-round enjoyment. The town has developed activities to suit every interest, from mountain biking to snowshoeing, downhill skiing to spa retreats. It because of this that you will find people from all over the world wandering its pedestrian streets.
WHAT MAKES WHISTLER UNIQUE
Being a ski resort, and a Winter Olympic host, it goes without saying that Whistler sees a fair share of winter sports enthusiasts each year. Because it hosted the Olympics, the mountain has world-class infrastructure for everything from skiing to bobsled. The resort planners have also ensured that summer activities receive the same attention. Whistler Blackcomb is a mecca for mountain bikers.
During the 2010 Winter Olympics, Whistler had the distinct honour of hosting a great number of luge, skeleton, alpine, bobsled, and nordic events. And for visitors that are taking a break from the sports offered in the mountains, there is the award-winning pedestrian village to enjoy local food, drink, and shopping. Even since the mid-1990s, many major skiing magazines have been voting it as one of the top skiing destinations of North America.
ORIGINS OF A TOP DESTINATION
Whistler was identified in 1860 by a survey of the British Royal Navy. Whistler mountain was initially named London Mountain due to the heavy fog blanketing the mountain, bearing a resemblance to the foggy weather of London. The current name was inspired by the whistle of a local marmot species that was heard all around the slopes.
The valley is flanked by glaciated mountains on both sides and located around the pass between the upper-middle reaches of the Cheakamus and the headwaters of the Green River. A trail was cut through the valley around the late 19th century and completed around 1877. It connected the town of Lillooet to the Seymour River via Pemberton, and Burrard Inlet via Squamish. Given its difficulty, it was only used for the purpose of driving cattle.
The area attracted prospectors and trappers in the 20th century who established camps in the area. The area started to gain traction after the arrival of Alex Phillips in 1914 who established the Rainbow Lodge. This, combined with other railway-dependent tourist resorts were collectively called Alta Lake. As the valley started to be inhabited on a larger scale and the gap between the Green River and Cheakamus basins was bridged, British Columbia’s first resort municipality was created, and only 2.5 hours from downtown Vancouver.
TOURISM WHISTLER’S TOP ATTRACTIONS
The best thing about Whistler is that whether it is winter, summer, spring, or fall, you will have something to keep you entertained. Skiing in the summer? Yes, you can! It is the kind of place where you can go skiing in the morning, play a round on the golf course in the afternoon, and hit the spa in the evening. This friendly alpine village is loaded with so many activities and attractions that all receive rave reviews on sites like Tripadvisor. And if you haven’t checked everything out ahead of time, there is always the Whistler Visitor Centre to give you some inspiration on what to do and see.
So let’s start with the top attractions Whistler has to offer:
WHISTLER BLACKCOMB RESORT
You have two mountains and 1,530 metres of a vertical slope; we all know things are going to go downhill from there but in the best possible way. Being the biggest ski resort in North America and a globally recognized tourist destination, there are a number of activities to choose from including:
- Nordic or cat skiing
- Alpine skiing
- Backcountry or heli-skiing
The terrain offers different a variety of difficulties, from green circle to double black diamond, including options for ski lessons, should you need them. Additionally, there are numerous other activities if you are not up for skiing such as ice skating, dog sledding, snowmobiling, ice climbing, and ice fishing.
PEAK 2 PEAK GONDOLA
You must go on a gondola ride at some point in your life. If you haven’t yet, riding the Peak 2 Peak in Whistler is a great place to start. It is the world’s highest and longest gondola. At a height of 435 metres and stretches around 4.4mm between two mountains, it is a stunning way to see Whistler from a new perspective. Some of the gondolas even have glass floors. People ride them during all four seasons to spot wildlife or for sightseeing. You can ride to the peak and dine in at one of the five restaurants at the top.
Although you can find a number of spas in Whistler, none compare to Scandinave Spa. This zen oasis consists of a series of outdoor pools, both hot and cold, that are made in nordic style. These pools are interconnected by landscaped paths as well as with little atriums that contain lounges, steam rooms, and saunas. The whole experience is good for unwinding and leaves you completely serene. No matter the season, it is always open and inviting to all guests.
Your trip to Whistler can never be considered complete without visiting the award-winning Whistler Village. This 24/7 festive village is filled with tourists from around the world pretty much every moment of the year. There are many festivals such as the Whistler Film Festival or Cornucopia if you are there at the right time. You will find this European-inspired village to be everything you expected and more.
- Mountain Bike Park
- Sliding Center (for a number of Olympic sports activities)
- Lost Lake
- Audian Art Museum
- Tasting Tours (walkabout to top 5 dining venues)
- Squamish-Lil’wat Cultural Centre
Although the Canadian resort town of Whistler is quite remarkable and a wonder of nature that deserves to be seen by everyone, it can cost you a pretty penny. And with provincial health officials advising against non-essential travel due to the coronavirus pandemic, it might seem like Whistler is out of reach. But British Columbia’s year-round playground is finding new ways to welcome visitors, virtually. The VR Voyage is partnering with local attractions and guides to take some of the best Whistler has to offer and recreate them in engaging interactive virtual experiences. Now even more people will be able to experience what Whistler has to offer.