Whistler: A Five-Star Getaway

When you’re in a beautiful space it feels like everything is right in the world. That must be why I’ve always been drawn to beautiful things, whether made by man or nature. A five-star getaway is about enjoying the beauty that life has to offer and appreciating experiences that have been created for our delight.

Nestled amidst majestic mountains and enchanted forests, Whistler (host of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games) is one of those beautiful places. It has abundant natural beauty and also man-made: luxury hotels, fine dining and breath-taking experiences, making it the perfect setting for a five-star getaway.

My husband and I were all set to fully savour our weekend away in an extraordinary place!

WHERE TO STAY

As the name suggests, the Chateau Whistler is a castle and a castle is a magical place. We felt like royalty stepping inside the grand lobby with its high vaulted ceilings and plush carpets.

Once in our beautiful newly renovated Alpine Suite, which was cozy, yet spacious, with its slanted ceilings and picturesque windows overlooking Blackcomb and Whistler mountains, we shifted into relaxation mode.

For a full five-star experience I recommend Fairmont Gold: you check-in directly with a private reception and have exclusive access to a lavish lounge where you can indulge in complimentary continental breakfast, honour bar, cocktail canapés, late night treats and more - the gold staff look after your every need.

WHAT TO DO

This is one for the bucket list, a thrilling and incredible experience!

We were pretty excited as we gently lifted up into the sky guided by our friendly pilot Craig. Seeing the Village from a birds-eye view was fascinating, the surrounding snow capped mountains seemed to go on forever. We could see the patterns and textures in the snow as we flew close to the mountain crests, at times catching our breath when we found a sheer drop on the other side! It was spectacular to fly over turquoise lakes and awe-inspiring when we landed on the glacier, a leisurely stop that allowed us to take in the incredible 360-degree view. As we flew back, I noticed lines of yellow trees (it was Fall) making distinct patterns amongst the green forested mountains. It turns out they were old logging roads where seeds of deciduous trees had taken root.

Tips:

  • Weather dependent; so book your tour at the beginning of your stay in case it gets cancelled. Our tour was cancelled twice before we got to go, luckily we ended up with a perfect day.
  • I recommend the longer 24-minute BC Experience Tour with the 15-minute glacier stop.
  • The front seat is the best seat, followed by the two window seats in the back (four total in the back). Seats are not assigned.
  • The ride out is long and the ride back is very short.
  • Beautiful at anytime of year, but I suspect even more spectacular in peak winter season when the mountains are full of snow, although on the downside you would have to suit up in your winter gear for the glacier stop.

For many, the apex of relaxation is a day at the Spa. The stress of modern life takes its toll, the Spa is the perfect place to restore and relax.

A lovely expansive space hidden behind a modest entrance, the Vida Spa offers an extensive menu of treatments, many of which are based on the principles of Ayurveda, a 5,000 year old system of holistic Indian medicine. In Ayurvedic medicine it is believed that three types of energy, “dosha”, circulate through the body, so first I filled out a questionnaire to determine my dominant dosha, the results of which were eerily accurate.

I chose the Swedana cedar steam cabinet treatment because it sounded intriguing. Any tension in my body melted away as my therapist, Marilyn, poured warm oil onto my skin for a soothing massage. After my massage, I was cocooned into the Swedana cedar cabinet, a herbal mixture based on my dosha steamed into my body to cleanse and detoxify. Back on the massage table, I was sprinkled with a herbal powder which was then brushed off to stimulate and exfoliate the skin.

It was heavenly; I floated out of there.

Tips:

  • If you are not staying at the hotel and go for a treatment you have full use of the hotel’s extensive pool area - make sure to take full advantage.
  • You may receive a discount at the Spa as a hotel guest.

Lounge

Sometimes when traveling we don’t want to miss a thing so we run from one thing to the next and end up more exhausted than we when we arrived. Staying in a castle is the perfect excuse to slow down and enjoy the amenities.

I love to lounge in the beautiful pool area, the most extensive in Whistler: soaking in the hot tubs, swimming, decompressing in the sauna, relaxing in the eucalyptus steam room and maybe even going for a workout.

Then, when I’m fully relaxed, I love to luxuriate at The Mallard Bar, the centerpiece of the hotel: a luxurious lounge of deep couches, a massive fireplace, thick carpets and huge windows overlooking the mountains. It’s one of my favourite places; I just love to hang out there with a good book or great conversation. The quiet lounge transforms into a fun and lively place for après-ski during peak ski season starting around 3pm.

Tip: Check for “Fairmont Fridays” that runs from 5 to 7pm from Summer to Fall, it’s rip-roaring fun with drink specials and free appetizers, make sure to arrive early to find a table, it can get pretty crazy.

It’s hard to believe that only one tree was knocked down to make way for this modern masterpiece designed by Patkau Architects. Constructed for forty-four million dollars, the sleek black exterior could pass for the secret headquarters for James Bond’s nemesis. The building is as much a showpiece as the art that graces its walls.

The 56,000 square foot museum was conceived and fully funded by Michael Audain, a home builder and philanthropist; he wanted to share his art collection with the world. He has donated two hundred pieces of art to the museum, including a remarkable Northwest Coast First Nations mask collection, which used to hang in his home, where he would greet them every morning and night.

The permanent collection also includes historical work by Emily Carr, E.J. Hughes, Gordon Smith and Jack Shadbolt and internationally renowned contemporary British Columbia artists Jeff Wall, Dana Claxton, Marianne Nicolson, Rodney Graham and Stan Douglas.

Tip: You get much more out of your visit with a guided tour.

WHERE TO EAT

“I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate.” ~ Julia Child

When a meal is a gourmet meal, it becomes an event. Make sure to take the time to savour and appreciate the flavours, textures and pairings, they can be truly sublime. It boggles my mind to think of the passion and effort that goes into making each dish, take a moment to appreciate the small army behind the scenes that created it for your pure enjoyment.

Located in the Chateau, the Grill Room is tucked away adjacent to The Wildflower restaurant where you will find an impressive buffet breakfast. It’s a warm and inviting space with its rich fabrics, stone fireplace and soft lighting. The service surpassed anything I have ever experienced and the food was exquisite. Loved the emphasis on locally sourced ingredients.

We were intrigued when presented with a special treat from the Chef: perched on a small plank, a glass bell filled with a dreamy cloud of smoke (for a moment I felt I may be in Hogwarts magical castle). When the glass was lifted the enchanted smoke gently dissipated with an oak aroma revealing a delicious smoked salmon. We are still appreciating the creativity and ingenuity of this special dish, a true five-star experience.

Tip: Make sure to order the delicious Tomato Gin Soup with double smoked bacon, which is flambéed table-side with Schramm Gin.

A farm-to-table pioneer and a favourite amongst foodies, award-winning Araxi on the Village Stroll, a cobbled pedestrian walkway in the heart of the Village, the “downtown” of Whistler. It’s elegant and modern with delicious and imaginative food and is well known for its extensive wine list.

Tip: Check for incredible 5-course dinner specials in the off-season (Fall and Spring).

Hidden away at the edge of the Village, Hy’s is a classic top of the line steakhouse. An inviting caramel interior of mahogany and leather, we had great food and service.

Tip: Make sure to try the famous Caesar salad, prepared right at your table - best I’ve ever had.

If you can afford a five-star getaway, it’s money well spent; after all, you can’t take it with you, so you might as well enjoy it while you’re here! Make sure to not only enjoy the experience itself, but also appreciate the anticipation and the memories, giving the holiday a much longer lifespan than just the time spent away.

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