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A winter weekend in Whistler
Take in the mountain views from the thermal waterfall at Scandinave Spa in Whistler, B.C.
DAY 1: SKI
Whistler’s luxury properties register an 11 on the haute-hotel meter (see the Four Seasons, Nita Lake Lodge), but the Fairmont Chateau Whistler sweeps the “Wait – are we in an alpine storybook?” category. The rustic-chic lobby sets the tone, with a lofty peaked roof and evergreens laden with twinkling lights.
Morning: Start your day at the hotel’s Portobello Market & Fresh Bakery, which features fruit smoothies (if you’re feeling healthy) and the Belgium Hot Chocolate Experience (if you’re really not). Opt for the creamy confection of caramel, maple, chocolate and whipped cream – it’s so rich that Forbes would be tempted to profile it.
Next, suit up for the day – you can rent everything from skis to stylish jackets at the Fairmont – and hit the slopes. There are two major mountains to tackle: Whistler (1,530 metres high) and Blackcomb (1,609 metres), both of which boast more than 100 runs and award-stacked pedigrees that would make Meryl Streep blush.
The views on the mountain are similarly astonishing: Powdery peaks rise in the distance like giant snowy linebackers huddled against a cornflower-blue sky. (In addition to #nofilter, be prepared to add #nowayyy.) To switch mountains, take the Peak 2 Peak gondola, which glides along for more than four kilometres, offering gorgeous scenery and the perfect opportunity to warm up and chill out – or make out, depending on the state of your lips.
Afternoon: On Whistler Mountain, stop for lunch at Steeps Grill & Wine Bar, the most romantic restaurant in the sky. The locally sourced Hecate Strait Halibut is a favourite, as is the Pemberton Beef Burger with Tomato Jam and Caramelized Onion Aioli. Either way, order the Truffle Frites – at least once.
Looking for an après-lunch challenge? Whistler Blackcomb is the only ski resort in North America where you can ski or snowboard on a glacier. Add it to your bucket list, and then cross it off with a swagger.
Evening: Back in Whistler Village, your well-deserved drink options feel as limitless as the mountain horizons look. Hot spot Garibaldi Lift Company (affectionately nicknamed “GLC”) is worth dropping by for an icy pint, but if you stay long enough for a pitcher, you’ll inevitably start counting “The Situation” look-alikes.
The Mallard Lounge offers a more refined après experience. Sit by the fire in a pair of overstuffed armchairs and order the Root Down, the bar’s signature cocktail, which is crafted from horseradish-infused gin, beet juice, lemon juice and maple syrup. By your second drink, you’ll need a little sustenance in the form of lobster mac and cheese (no judgment). After dinner, take your digestif outside for a starry evening stroll.
DAY 2: APRÈS-SKI
When you’re on holiday, room service is an inalienable right along the lines of freedom of speech and sample sales. Sleep late and order breakfast in bed for two: Cradle your creamy latte from the comfort of your Egyptian cotton while watching early-riser skiers charge down the mountain.
Morning: A luxurious soak at Scandinave Spa is a restorative essential following an intense ski day. Located inside the emerald splendour of a spruce and cedar forest, Scandinave is like a lovely, picturesque village, with hot and cold pools and a steam room scented with eucalyptus. Complete the circuit several times, and subvert the “no talking” rule by murmuring sweet nothings under the thermal waterfall.
Next, take a shuttle to Nita Lake Lodge for Whistler’s best couples spa experience. The Ila Couples Connect package is the alpha and omega of treatments: The two-hour extravaganza includes a body scrub with Himalayan salt crystals, a restorative Kundalini massage and the signature Ananda facial.
Post-bliss, take your organic tea to the outdoor hot tub to contemplate your Zen state – and the happy fact of your now radiant, poreless skin. (Warning: Falling in love with your facialist is a risk that you must both accept.)
Afternoon: After an inevitable nap back at the Fairmont, wander arm in arm through the village and browse galleries, jewellery boutiques and the charming family-owned Armchair Books. Each December, the village hosts the Whistler Film Festival (WFF), a major celebration of movies that attracts international talent and screens films at local theatres. (This year, the WFF runs from December 3 to 7.)
Catch an early-evening flick, and then stroll to your dining destination: Araxi, which is spoken of by those who have experienced it with a breathy wonder usually reserved for Beyoncé super-fans. Part of the reason for Araxi’s stellar rep is that it combines a pioneering farm-to-table philosophy with a stylish, clubby ambience – it’s the cool kid of Whistler dining.
Evening: Start your night-on-the-town with chilled champagne at the Oyster Bar, where more than a dozen briny varieties arrive fresh daily. Seafood is the star of the dinner menu too, from the Asian-inspired flavours of the Vancouver Island Octopus with Toasted Sesame Seeds to the Two-Tier Seafood Tower, an Insta-worthy selection of mussels, tuna and shrimp served on a spectacular ice platter.
Finish with the Valrhona Chocolate Fondant topped with salted-caramel ice cream, or head back to the Fairmont’s Mallard Lounge for a late-night chocolate fondue for two – an appropriately sweet finish to a dreamy Whistler weekend.
VANCOUVER BLACK BOOK
How to spend your stopover en route to, or from, Whistler.
Stay: OPUS Vancouver This winter, the ultra-chic Yaletown hotel offers a $249 Ski-Scape Package, which includes a deluxe room with a fireplace and fun extras such as free ski storage and two hot buttered rums served on check-in. #coolgirldestination
Dine: Hawksworth Restaurant The city’s most elegant dining option is also its most daring. Executive chef David Hawksworth constantly ups the culinary ante with unexpected ingredients and sophisticated flavour pairings, such as the slow-cooked lobster served with bacon, Parmesan, cauliflower and thyme. #yesplease
Shop: Secret Location This elevated concept boutique carries the world’s most cutting-edge designers, many of them exclusively in Canada. On that list: Jacquemus, Anthony Vaccarello and Delfina Delettrez. #major