Whistler Does It Bigger

Think of it as the best of Switzerland a day's drive from the American border. Canada here we come.
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Think of it as the best of Switzerland a day's drive from the American border. Canada here we come.
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Whistler-Blackcomb is big. Like, holyshit the lift takes you through three weathersystems on the way up big. A skip from Vancouver, North America’s largest resort features a pair of gondola-linked peaks and 8,171 acres. That skiable space includes more than 200 trails, 16 bowls, and a 5,190-foot vertical descent. The nightlife is as expansive. Equal parts European extravagance and slopeside cool, it’s a crackling, dance-until-2-a.m. town. And since the villages sit at roughly 2,200 feet, your legs and lungs recover faster than in other elevations, so a wild night won’t cost you as much. Oh, Canada! 

Ski: There’s no one way to tackle Whistler. But here’s a tip: Stay high. The elevation sets you above the cloud line and into the sun. Plus, the 360-degree views of the Coast Mountain Range ain’t bad. Don’t leave before tackling Top of the World, a continuous 2.7-mile journey from summit to base. Beginners should be sure to ski Burnt Stew Trail. Experts? Eye the chutes of McConkey’s or Blackcomb Glacier’s doubles.

Crash:The Fairmont Chateau Whistler, located at the foot of the mountain, is the town’s sole ski-in-ski-out resort. The place has been around for 25 years and has a classic robber-baron vibe: cut-stone spires, wooden beams, river-stone fireplaces ample enough to spit-roast a steer. Rooms are just as rustic and welcoming. Be sure to hit the Mallard Lounge and sip a scotch (neat) as you watch the snow fall. 

Eat:Bearfoot Bistro is fine dining perfectly calibrated for slopeside luxury. A private mixologist will make cocktails at your table (try the Broadside), while chefs armed with liquid nitrogen wander the floor to theatrically freeze desserts. Order the wild boar medallions (trust us) before bundling up in a parka and slipping into the Belvedere Ice Room. The world’s coldest vodka-tasting space, it boasts a globe-spanning collection of the spirit. 

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Party: Hit up the Garibaldi Lift Co. Bar & Grill, the area’s après-ski de résistance. Park near the fireplace at the second-story restaurant lounge, named for its location above the Whistler lift. It’s a beer-and-shot place, so have some Kokanees (the British Columbian PBR) and listen to some tunes while mingling with the crowd. If the party does end, make your way to Maxx Fish. It’s the best of all of Whistler’s clubs, populated with DJs who supply the sound track that makes the crowd of Vancouver coeds climb on the bar come late-night. 

Ride: Skip the slopes one morning and book the Canadian Wilderness Adventures four-hour Yukon Breakfast tour. You’ll mount a snowmobile and blast through nearby Callaghan Valley’s waist-deep powder before reaching a cabin where a chef waits with strong coffee and a skillet breakfast. Twist the throttle on the way back and you’ll return in time for an afternoon run. [From $169; canadianwilderness.com]