Being a Vancouverite, I’ve
always had a soft spot for North America’s favourite playground. Long
before the marriage of Whistler to Blackcomb, I had joined other skiers
at Creekside, where we’d escalate from base to summit in an ice box-like
gondola followed by the pokey Red Chair. The journey took a frigid forty-five
minutes and in spite of all the shivering, the end result was worth
every chilly second.
Over the years there’s been
a lot of bonding between these two peaks and now that it’s the venue
of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, this mountain resort
just keeps getting better. Not only has the downward descent broadened
immensely since my childhood days, but so have the year-round adventures
and opportunities for overnight pampering, as I discovered during this
recent visit to the Pan Pacific Whistler Mountainside.
Location, location, location
This boutique-suite property
provides a front row and centre location to both gondolas. Whether it’s
to bike in summer sunshine, or ski the cloaked pathways of winter fluff,
you can’t get any closer. Within footsteps is the Excalibur, a
covered joy ride that whisks boarders to Blackcomb’s Excelerator Chair,
then onto a bounty of chiseled alpine runs. If Whistler’s more your
style, load onto the adjacent Village Gondola where the solo scenic
lift will transport you from ground level to the "grand" level of 1,850
metres (6,069 feet) in a quick twenty-two minutes. From top to bottom, there’s
every pitch to suit any need; steep and deep, bumps and jumps, and all
of those glorious groomers – take your pick. This downhill expedition
is guaranteed to satisfy.
Want to check out both mountains in the same day?
The PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola (debuting
December 12, 2008) allows you to soar between the two mile-high mountains
in only eleven minutes! This revolutionary wonder ties the two summits
together like the ribbon of a wrapped present, and what a sweet gift
it is! Not only is there one pretty panorama when taking this aerodynamic
lift high above Fitzsimmons Valley, there’s easy access to both mountains
– and enough ski-able terrain to pacify any powder hound. Hit Blackcomb’s
dreamy Seventh Heaven and Angel Dust in the morning, then dig into Whistler’s
wide open Glacier, Sun and Flute bowls in the afternoon. Grab breakfast
at the Rendezvous on Blackcomb, then nip into Whistler’s Roundhouse
for lunch. With the union of these symbiotic soul mates, you can do
it all, and in the same day! Over two hundred manicured runs wrap
the sensuous mountain contours, some of which funnel all the way down
to the pedestrian Alpine village where you’ll find two hundred shops,
ninety plus restaurants and five-star properties like our weekend retreat,
the Pan Pacific Whistler Mountainside.
Slate tiles lead the way into
this cozy lobby area where indoor indulgences mix insouciantly with
west coast architecture. Walls paneled with rich fir host paintings
of indigenous wildlife, butter soft leather work handsomely with rich
earth tones and tapestries, and an antler chandelier overrides an intimate
sitting area that’s warmed by a crackling fire. It’s all delightfully
designed and wonderfully "Whistler-esque".
The adjacent reservation desk
is just as unpretentious and our check-in is a breeze. The property
hosts a hundred and twenty-one luxurious suites; in minutes we’re
escorted to ours, a two-bedroom sanctuary on the sixth floor.
Over the next couple of days
we whip up creative cuisine in our fully stocked kitchen, cozy up in
front of the fireplace while watching a favourite flick, and get pampered
by Aveda salon amenities in both of our granite-swathed bathrooms. Feather
beds, down duvets, thirsty robes and high-speed wireless add to the
divine mix, and floor to ceiling shuttered windows remind us of why
we’re here. Like living life-size photos, each pane frames those omnipresent
peaks that constantly emit that adventurous call.
Other pampering pass times
But before we steel away from
this awesome posh spot, there are other leisure-loving moments to check
out. Just down our hallway is the Vital Spirit Spa where we can book
a massage or manicure. By descending to the second floor we’ll
splash about in the outdoor pool, soothe in the eucalyptus steam room
and take in more mountain views from two bubbly hot tubs. The full fitness
centre helps burn off vacationing calories, the quaint Dubh Linn Gate
Irish Pub helps put them on, and the eclectic array of shops lightens
our load. (from our wallets, that is)
Action and adventure
This world-class wonderland
hosts an abundance of year-round activity; the concierge at Pan
Pacific Whistler Mountainside will book any adventure to suit your desire.
Advanced winter warriors wanting
more than a glide down the slopes, may choose to go heli or snowcat
style where adept guides lead the way through uncluttered virgin terrain.
Or check out the backcountry that’s closer to sea level. Thirty-two
kilometers of Nordic track trail over icy lakes, encircle championship
golf greens and weave through winter-quiet forests. Hop on a snowmobile,
clip into snowshoes, mush a dogsled fuelled by Alaskan Huskies. There
are lots of ways to discover Whistler’s roads that are less traveled.
Though Whistler is synonymous
with winter wonderland, there are over forty summer sensations to feed
the adventurous soul. When weather warms, these powder pathways become
a paradise for hikers, bikers, horse lovers and the occasional black
bear. While some go in search of undulating terrain, others check it
out with bird’s eye view on a flightseeing tour. Activities come
in every category: whether it’s zip trekking through a coastal
temperate rainforest, bungee blissing over raging whitewater or rap
jumping (a face-forward free-fall) from Whistler’s summit, the exhilaration
and excitement will suffice every adventurous pursuit.
Blue ribbon kudos
This favourite mountain resort
has unsurprisingly received countless accolades over the years. Skiing, Ski, Outside and TransWorld SNOWboarding are a few of the more
recent publications that have cast the much-deserved limelight their
way. In a recent issue of the prestigious Condé Nast Traveler,
not only did Pan Pacific Whistler Village Centre make the list of the
top one hundred resorts in the world, but her sister property and our
sweet retreat, the Pan Pacific Whistler Mountainside, were included in
the list of the top twenty Canadian resorts. After this recent visit,
I can certainly see why!
Starting at only $219CAD (or
@USD$170) per night up to December 18th, and $319CAD (or @USD$248) from
January fourth through April twenty-fifth, those who book
online will enjoy increasing savings for
booking multiple nights, adding up to a free night’s stay for those
reserving five consecutive room nights. The ascending savings’
scale is as follows:
10% discount per night off
any room type for three nights booked
15% discount per night off
any room type for four nights booked
20% discount per night off
any room type for five nights booked
In order to secure these great
rates during Whistler’s coming high season, guests must book and pay
in advance through the online booking engine at Pan Pacific.
Check out Tourism Whistler for more information.