36 Hours in Whistler

A weekend in the British Columbia ski resort uncovers hints of a quaint mountain town, one-percenter indulgences and out-of-this-world skiing.

Comments: 33

  1. I used to live in Vancouver and skied pretty regularly at Blackcomb: alas, this article focuses far too much on where to eat rather than the incredible skiing. I've just come back from a week of skiing in Les 3 Vallées in the French alps. It's the biggest ski resort in the world, and the variety and views were indeed amazing, but it also made me realize just how incredible W-B is for a) volume of snow; b) long steep runs (even blues - at least in Blackcomb); and c) efficient lift system with *friendly lifties who actually do their job*

  2. Skip Bearfoot Bistro, there are supplemental charges to nearly everything and the quality of the food doesn’t add up to the price. Try Araxi or Rim Rock instead!

  3. Alta Bistro is a good value for great food.

  4. Wonder if you might consider discontinuing this "36 Hours In" series in light of the climate crisis. You're pretty much enticing people (especially those in NYC) to fly across the country and around the world to spend a whopping 1.5 days in some exotic locale. And then to do it again and again and again. This isn't a behavior that is going to be able to continue (let alone increase) if we are to have a stable future climate.

  5. @mgintc If you notice, this article actually covers 48 hrs (I pm Fri to 1 pm Sun), not 36, as touted in the headline. I guess those NYers have a different sense of time. But your main point is well taken.

  6. Ah, yes. Recall skiing Whistler Blackcomb some 30+ years ago, staying at the Chateau (then recently acquired by a Japanese conglomerate but left undisturbed) and skiing the Blackcomb glacier, double-black edge drops but beautifully groomed for ego skiing down the middle. (A groomed glacier? Yep.) Getting off the mountain maybe half an hour ahead of closing, sitting outdoors (spring skiing) on the patio of the bar at the foot of the run-out, sipping gin and tonic with my new skiing buddy, watching the last-run die-hards filing off through that narrow chute . . . A montage of my photos from that glacier decorate a wall in my current abode. Memories, every time I notice them. At 81, with bad knees and weakness from my cancer (fully recovered), them days are gone -- but not forgotten.

  7. Well, sure. If it's skiing you want, then Whistler is superb, though grossly over-priced, in my view. We have spent time there twice, during the summer. And when the snow is all gone, it's a lot less attractive. There are very few hiking trails that are well maintained and appropriately graded and maps are scarce. The mountains are really designed for bikers during the summer. The village gets to be pretty boring (though the public library is very good value indeed), and affordable food is hard to find (we compensated by renting a condo with a full kitchen). After two tries we had had enough and won't go back. But then, we are retired seniors who like to hike, not ski. The gondolas remain the best feature of Whistler, all year round, in my view, though the new prices are staggering. It's a winter resort for very up-scale yuppies who don't mind dropping a couple of grand for a long weekend. Other demographics would be well advised to give it a miss.

  8. Nester's Market, about a mile outside Whistler, has agreements with many of the condo owners in the resort. Go online, find Nester's market/wistler, order the food and libations you want, tell them where you're staying, and it will be in your fridge when you arrive! Nothing like arriving after a long trip from the NY area to Whistler to find a cold bevvy in the fridge!

  9. @trblmkr great tip

  10. One reason the higher lifts close early is that it can take a skiier an hour to descend the mountain. So, while the lifts might start closing around 3:30pm, there can still be a lot of skiing left to do. This isn't an issue on smaller mountains.

  11. The best advice I can give anyone about staying in Whistler is if you value your sleep, peace and quiet book as far away from the main village center as possible. Particularly on weekend nights, the main village gets overrun with "a loud loaded crowd" who take their passion for revelry well into the wee hours of the morning. That said, Whistler deserves it's reputation as a top ski area but it's more fun and relaxed in the late Spring and Fall when their are fewer tourists, lots of things to do and the vibe is much more laid back.

  12. @Stephen Encarnacao A good point: My visits are not ski related, but I learned years ago that in the Village Stroll area, many hotel/condos facing the pedestrian zone are exposed to more sound. My usual habit is the Pan Pacific Mountainside, rooms facing the Valley, NOT the Mountain. Facing the mountain, you get sound from the restaurant bar mentioned in this article, and from adjacent restaurants, and the ski lift area. I think that one or two adjacent hotels to Mountainside are decently quiet (Shell Vacations property, for example). Farther afield, but I've not tried it (yet), is Lost Lake Lodge (Upper Village area, beyond the Fairmont's Golf Course)--but it's a hike to the ski area.

  13. @Stephen Encarnacao Creekside is a great alternative to the village for accommodations. It is where Whistler all started. The lift lines are shorter, and it has great restaurants (Rimrock Cafe etc), and nice amenities including a great grocery store. Also, when driving up from Vancouver, it avoids traffic to the village.

  14. 36 hrs in Whistler with ca 4 hrs of skiing, well that is a waste of a great opportunity.

  15. ..skied Whistler/ Blackcomb for the past few years now and I'm ruined for anywhere else!

  16. As somebody who had made numerous trips here, it is worth a visit. In the pantheon of classic ski resorts, this mountain is very unique. The drive from Vancouver, the big long ski runs, and the party in the village are all excellent. However as I've gotten older, this place has less appeal to me. Overpriced and often crowded, the dirty little secret is that its low elevation and proximity to the Pacific Ocean often means we snow and often rain. Don't forget your waterproof gear

  17. Sorry, but this is going to be one of those "remember the good-old-days" memory dives. I first drove up in the late '70's after a 3-11 shift at a Seattle hospital where I slaved away for 35+ years. Crossing the border took only minutes back then. The drive through sleepy Vancouver was quick. Once you got west, however, senses were heightened because the sea-to-sky was, shall we say, primitive and lonely. Driving through the Channeled Scablands, an area of huge volcanic rocks (that displayed a tendency to break lose of their moorings and regain purchase on top of an unlucky vehicle at least once a season) was always a thrill. Where Blackcomb base is now was the town dump with an adjoining $12/night KOA where I would grab a few zees before hitting the slopes of Whistler. Blackcomb was only a gleam in developer's eyes then. Long, long chair rides to to top (Summit chair years away). It seemed a lot colder back then--the Big Red chair was always a windy, frostbite challenge. I shoulda bought a condo at Creekside base--the only way up the mountain. Drive back Sunday night (once I left the duty-free shop and somehow re-entered the US without actually meeting a customs official or going through the entry gate!! I have no idea how that happened!!) The 100+ days I did up there over the years are still joyfully burned into my brain. Oh well. "Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end..."

  18. @ex-skier Sorry we never got to make that trip together my friend. Good old days indeed!

  19. I ski Whistler 2-5 times a year. It's pricey, and the snow often sucks (moguls and ice). Talking last night to friends that have seasons passes, they've done 3 days of skiing this year, and no full days, due to crappy conditions. The village, while cute, has the same commercial trappings as a mall. Oh, look, a Gap. And a tacky tourist t-shirt shop. There are better mountains within a few hours of Vancouver, but I'm going to keep that info to myself. For beer, stop at Howe Sound Brewing, in cute and awesome town of Squamish. PS - the sentence explaining the ticket prices makes no sense: "high ticket prices (around 180 Canadian dollars, or about $138, for a one-day ticket, or around 150 dollars if bought in advance online)" Maybe stick to a single currency. We Canadians can do currency conversion in our heads, as easily as we can do metric to imperial.

  20. @David Griffiths a quick google search provides plenty of other mountains near whistler, in convenient lists too. nothing is a secret in the age of the internet

  21. @David Griffiths Exactly true. Don't tell the NY Times readers where to go. The well kept secrets and unique ski towns don't need to be Vail-ified. Agree completely with your ski and acres-ski assessment.

  22. The nuances of local knowledge trumps Googles unrefined, encyclopedic data.

  23. There isn’t a whole lot of Vail investment to point to yet and certainly it doesn’t seem like it’s in the people that run the mountain. Rumour has it that they didn’t guarantee hours for the groomers so all the experienced people left. Same for the patrollers. And the snow making team has applied for unionization. It certainly seems like lift maintenance has gotten worse. The summer grooming has been sub par or ignored – so trees popping up through the snow more than ever. What does all this mean? I can say that Vail can barely seem to open the alpine this year. You can’t open if things are prepped and only experienced groomers can work in low visibility at night. You need experience to get the avalanche safety done in a timely way. And, about the new gondola: it’s focus seems to be to ferry up non-skiers in greater comfort. Its hurried installation took away two chairs one of which was important for mid mountain skiing. The gondola is not a replacement. I heard the local staff argued strongly against the removal of the chair. The gondola is also way more susceptible to wind closures/stoppages than the chair. And it seems to just plain break down. And the service in the lodges seems worse. Compared to Vail, the place ran like clockwork before and deserved its #1 rankings. If you can’t ski the alpine, it’s just another mediocre hill.

  24. With the massive challenges facing our country and the world, including inequality and climate change, it's difficult to read through this article touting carbon-intensive "one percenter" fun and games. As the NYT regularly points out in its news stories and op-eds, vast swathes of American children can't obtain good housing, nutrition, education or healthcare. But here's the NYT cheering for 500 dollar hotel rooms, "carnivore friendly" brisket at 24 dollars a serving, 38 dollar breakfast buffets, Wagyu beef rigatoni at 32.50 and recreational ax throwing for 38 dollars. All wrapped up in a ski vacation that would surely cost a family many thousands of dollars, not to mention the carbon emissions from jetting there, racing around in a rented SUV and getting up and down the mountain on motorized ski lifts. Should the NYT move to be a bit more morally and intellectually consistent, and mindful of what's actually important, by stopping these kinds of articles that glamorize the one-percenter life?

  25. @Stuck on a mountain You didn't like it; I did. I guess we cancel each other out.

  26. @Stuck on a mountain Not all of Whistler/Blackcomb is expensive, as a single mom my son and I visited quite a few times. Our trips included; staying in a hostel, less expensive hotels in the shoulder season, going to the grocery store for provisions (as most hotels have mini kitchens) and taking the train to get there. Lots of people go there, not just the rich.

  27. Whistler generates enough electricity from an on-site hydropower plant to power the resort's operations. Thus it does not increase carbon emissions. You are right that that doesn't cover the energy of transportation to and from the resort, but the same is true of any vacation destination.

  28. The Audin museum is wonderful

  29. Enjoying thinking back to the early 80’s when we’d drive up Thanksgiving weekend and stay six or so to a room. The hotel cooked Thanksgiving dinner for the Americans and served it family style in the basement. The leftovers keep us going through the weekend. I still make it up there two or three times a year but ski less. The article failed to mention cross-country skiing and snowshoeing at Lost Lake and at Whistler Olympic Park just outside of town. The guided snowshoe tours on Whistler mountain are also fun for those who don’t downhill ski.

  30. Dubhlin Gate - best wings in W-B!! And the busses are a short walk once you finish there.

  31. If you want to reduce your carbon output, there are shuttle buses from the YVR airport or downtown that drive up the Sea to Sky highway along the stunning Pacific coast. Whistler Village transit buses run frequently around the hotels and lifts. Incredible Peak to Creek ski run is the longest at 6.8miles. We rent a condo with a kitchen and heat up simple meals for dinner, when you only want to sleep and not party. If snow doesn't show at Whistler, we reroute to Banff/Canmore area with dependable Sunshine, Lake Louise, Kicking Horse and you can ski the World Cup run.

  32. After visiting Whistler in the spring of 2019 during a business trip to BC, I must take umbrage with the lede of "𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘢 𝘲𝘶𝘢𝘪𝘯𝘵 𝘮𝘰𝘶𝘯𝘵𝘢𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘰𝘸𝘯". The quaint mountain town died years ago, as I witnessed the Disneyfication of a quaint mountain town in the name of filthy lucre.

  33. I believe that it is important to stress the weather challenges at Whistler. Though the mountains can often provide lots of snow for the winter sports, the village and surrounding resort areas see a lot of rain in winter. Even the Olympics featured tough conditions on the runs. The charm of relaxing in a whirlpool hot tub found in Colorado is not so much fun when the precipitation on your head is rain at Whistler. Also, fog and rain can make the drive up and back from Vancouver very difficult and dangerous. That otherwise good highway is best used during daylight hours. Whistler can offer outstanding winter enjoyment including in the nice village area but the weather at the lower elevations at that village can literally dampen the experience.