Monday, January 11, 2016

Whistler, British Columbia

Ahh, family ski vacations, they inspire daydreams of family fun and memories. At least that's what it looks like via the smiling faces on family advertisements. And they can be with a little planning and picking a family friendly resort..and Whistler is one of the best family ski resorts in North America.


If you are planning a winter ski vacation at Whistler, start looking at the packages before the end of August. I know, it's hard to think of snow when you are enjoying the last few days of lazy summer, but many of the Whistler vacation deals end August 31. If you miss that deadline, the next deadline is November 15. We have booked our vacation packages directly through Whistler Blackcomb. We have often found that the flights booked through the package are cheaper than the flights we can book directly with the airline company. 


There are no direct flights to Whistler from Toronto. We have always flown into Vancouver and then used a shuttle (booked via our vacation package with Whistler Blackcomb) to take us to our hotel in Whistler. Just one note on the shuttle, from previous experience CALL the shuttle company before leaving on your flight to confirm that your party is on the shuttle list. Also at pick up at the hotel at the end of your trip, make sure there is always someone waiting outside for the shuttle and does not come back into the hotel lobby to warm up (it was a good learning experience for us...a story for another time). The last few times that we have travelled to Whistler, Whistler Blackcomb has booked us on the Pacific Coach Bus.

The Shuttle from Vancouver International Airport to Whistler takes approximately 2 hours. Make sure that you purchase some snacks and drinks for the ride. The drive is along the beautiful Sea to Sky highway. Your children and you, will be enthralled by the grocery ocean and mountain scenery. I have found that providing children with a camera (such as a cheap point and shoot or a disposable) for the ride helps with the long drive. Plus, it's fun to see what they like on the drive up, you can get pictures likes this:


There are many family friendly accommodations in Whistler. Full disclosure, we have only stayed at the Pan Pacific Whistler Village Centre and no where else. The first visit was so good that we kept coming back. 

You can book a studio suite, a one bedroom, two bedroom suite or even a three bedroom suite. There is a complimentary hot buffet breakfast in the winter (which is very good) and the hotel has two outdoor heated hot tubs and a heated salt water lap pool. The pool and hot tubs are open during the winter for the after skiing relaxation.  Bonus, they have a complimentary hot chocolate and cookie hour après ski. 

Your skis are stored at the Pan Pacific Whistler Mountainside location, which is just a 5 minute walk away.

If you have an early morning shuttle back to Vancouver (and will miss breakfast), you can ask the front desk to pack you a small breakfast to go the night before to be ready at the front desk in the morning.

This is the Studio Suite that comes with a pull-out couch and a murphy bed.

Murphy Bed
Living area and pull-out couch
One added bonus to the Pan Pacific Whistler Village Centre - there are guest laundry facilities on the first floor.


There are many wonderful places to eat in Whistler. Here are a few of our favourites;

Crêpe Montagne
Yes, a French crepiere in Whistler! They also offer fondues. Yum!

Mongolie Grill
Rice, noodles? The perfect meal for your fussy eater! At Mongolie Grill, you pick what vegetables and meat you want, and then your meal is stir fried for you. Your meal is charged based on weight, so probably a great place to go when your child is not going through a growth spurt! 

A BC staple and will have something on the menu to please everyone.

Chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate.

Whistler Grocery Store
And if the family feels like a night in, there is a grocery store where you can all your grocery needs plus some ready to go foods.


OK, so the main reason that people go to Whistler in the Winter is for the downhill skiing and snowboarding, but there are so many other things to do. Here are I few that I can recommend...

Cross Country/Nordic Skiing and Snowshoeing
Lost Lake Park, located a short walk from the Village, has 25 km of cross country ski trails and 15 km of snowshoeing trails. You can rent skis at the Park. The beautiful park is a wonderful opportunity to connect with nature as well as get a view of the Whistler and Blackcomb mountains.


Scandinave Spa
Need to relax those aching muscles? A visit to the Scandinave Spa is a must! Bring your bathing suit, sandals and robe (if you want one and don't want to rent one) and enjoy the relaxing sensation that comes from using cool pool, warm pools and saunas. This is for 19+ so a great opportunity to visit while the children are at ski school. Warning, the spa promotes silence as a means for relaxation, so if you are a talker be warned! Massages are also available (and includes a robe).

While we have never done it, families can also enjoy the Cocoa-Cola Tube Park and Whistler's Fire and Ice Show.

However, the most fun I have at Whistler is taking the kids out of their ski lessons for the afternoon and skiing with them. I learn so much from them about skiing and proper skiing etiquette. They also show me their favourite ski trails and we take them on some of ours as well. A great place to ski with the kids in the family zones marked on the maps. My youngest son LOVES skiing through the Enchanted Woods (and seeing his Mom struggle) and playing at the Magic Castle and Tree Fort. MY older son likes to push us a little bit, by trying out same of black diamonds, like Arthur's Choice. Given their different abilities and favourite places to ski, we have found the best days are when we dedicate an afternoon to a single child :).


Ski lessons
We have signed our boys up to the 5-day Whistler Adventure Camps every time we have been to Whistler. It has been a huge success. Not only have the boys had a wonderful time, they have also learned new skiing skills. And I hate to say it, both boys are now better skiers than their parents. The children are assigned to the same instructor for the week and are provided with a hot lunch and snacks. Many of the instructors are from Britain, Australia and New Zealand, so don't be surprised when your child excitedly tells you that they went from pizza (snowplow) to "chips" (parallel skiing).

Children are equipped with Flaik's around their legs that record their location. Not only are the Flaik's a useful device in finding a lost child, they also give parents and their children the opportunity to review their child's skiing or snowboarding day. Tip: your child's Flaik changes daily, so take a picture of the number when you drop them off or pick them up at ski school (trust me you won't remember it).  Just make sure that you get a clear picture of the Flaik or else you will have something like this:

The Flaik

Babysitting Whistler
Looking for a date night? We have used the services of Babysitting Whistler and have been impressed by the professionalism of their babysitters and the quick response from the owners in answering questions and booking sitters.

No book selections for this trip. If anyone has recommendations for a good book about the Whistler area, please add to the comment section. Enjoy your vacation!

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