I still can’t believe it took me 25 years to finally make it to Canada; even living in a state that borders the country. My first time visiting Canada took me to Banff last November. This time, I visited Whistler. Nestled in the Coast Mountain Range in British Columbia, about 2 hours north of Vancouver, you’ll find this little alpine village. You probably know it as the home of the 2010 Winter Olympics but there is so much more to Whistler than that.
When Haley reached out and asked me to join her in Whistler, I couldn’t say no! After all, it’s been a bucket list destination of mine for years. My expectations were so high for this place and let me just say, they were well exceeded.
Fresh off a trip to Vancouver, I was ready for some R+R in the form of mountain views and classic Fairmont hospitality. I arrived a few hours before my room was ready but it wasn’t an issue at all. Fairmont Chateau Whistler is located right in the upper village so you have access to everything- right outside the front door. It just so happened the day I arrived there was a farmer’s market right next to the hotel. I spent nearly two hours walking through and stopping at every single tent. I even grabbed lunch- fresh organic veggies and vegan hummus! I am still dreaming of how fresh those cucumbers were and how delicious the dill and tarragon hummus was! You’ll find everything locally made from jewelry, paintings, other little sundries and food like the smoothie truck, Fresca Agua a tent offering fruit infused water, and like I said before fresh organic fruits and veggies! Anyways…
All rooms are not created equal. Let me preface this by saying I hope every room I stay in is as nice and as spacious as the luxury one bedroom mountain view suite I stayed in at the Fairmont Whistler. When I opened the door to room 426 my eyes were on overload, I wasn’t sure where to look first. The chateau inspired décor? The windows offering panoramic views of the mountains? Let’s start with the living room area with the balcony. The living room is separated from the bedroom by double French doors which I loved! Being able to separate work and rest is so important to me when I’m on the road. I love having a separate space to work. Other in room thaaaangs include two televisions (which I didn’t turn on once because MOUNTAIN VIEWS ARE BETTER), 1.5 bathrooms which took me 6 hours to realize I had, a balcony, king size bed perfect for star fishing in, a plunge bath, two showers, and pull out sofa bed.
In true Fairmont fashion, they made me feel like I was right at home. One of my favorite small touches was the personalized toiletries restocked daily. Personalized as in they had my name on the label. I.Can’t. I’ve never experienced that before! It truly added to the overall experience. It’s funny how small thoughtful touches like that make such an impact on your stay.
Amenities at Fairmont Chateau Whistler
Visiting the Fairmont Chateau Whistler in the summer is an absolute treat. On the property, you’ll find a health club & spa, pools (yes plural), five restaurants, tennis courts and so much more. Quick note on the food, Wildflower is the breakfast spot. Pro tip: sit outside next to the garden for all of the Narnia vibes.
Head to Portobello for lunch, morning coffee and sweets! My go to was an iced almond milk latte and the raw bliss balls. Honestly, I’m still dreaming about them. Guess I have to wait until September to have one again! For dinner, sit on the outside patio at The Mallard and sip fresh mocktails or cocktails if you prefer.
Personally, I loved the central location of the Fairmont. The opportunities to get outside are endless. Exhibit A: the farmers market. Aside from that, I loved how the property provided you with a daily newsletter. This included everything the hotel offered during the day ahead; times, activities and detailed descriptions of the activities. I was up bright an early every day and usually saw it slide through the bottom of my door around 6:30am. If you don’t like day of planning, you can ask the concierge for the activities ahead of time and book.
There are usually three activities to choose from a day lead by a Whistler Experience Guide. These guides know everything there is to know about Whistler so I highly recommend joining in on at least one! Coming from a person that doesn’t really like tours, you should probably take my advice 😉 I joined two guided tours (the walk to the train wreck and the lakeside bike ride) through the Fairmont and neither of them really felt like a tour. You can book the activities you’d like to join through the concierge or at the health club.
It’s no secret, there are about a million and one things to do in Whistler if you can manage to ever leave the comforts of the Fairmont. Here’s what I got up to!
I don’t care how touristy this might be, it is so damn beautiful on top of Whistler Mountain. There are a few ski trails that double as hiking trails in the summer. Between both Whistler and Blackcomb there are 50km worth of hiking trails. Highly recommend! Once you’re at the top you can access the Peak 2 Peak Gondola which connects Whistler and Blackcomb Mountain and the brand new suspension bridge with a 360 degree viewing platform on the Whistler Mountain side.
Zipline with Superfly Ziplines
This was my first time ziplining and not my last. Superfly has four tandem ziplines and each one is so different from the other. Eventually you’ll work your way up to what the guides call ‘Godzilla.’ This is the steepest of the four and it is SCARY AF. Well, at least for me it was. I never really do adrenaline pumping things like this I usually stick to hiking, heli tours and other things in controlled environments. I was out of my comfort zone but it felt so good! After the fourth I wanted to do it 4,000 more times!
Our guides, Troy and Austin were super cool and SO helpful. With it being my first time on a zipline I was nervous and had a million questions but they were able to keep me calm, cool and collected.
Sunset Jeep tour up Whistler Mountain
An absolute must! Just look at this view. We went up Whistler Mountain with Canadian Wilderness Adventures and made several stops along the way including a field of alpine flowers!
Train Wreck Trail and Suspension Bridge
I had the opportunity to visit this unique Whistler spot as one of the activities provided through the Whistler Experience Guides. The train wreck is located along the Cheakamus River and it’s a super easy walk from the car park. Added bonus: the walk is beyond beautiful. In about 10-15 minutes you’ll make it to the suspension bridge and just beyond it is the train wreck. Perfect activity for all ages too.
Bike the lakes!
Lost Lake, Green Lake and Alta Lake to be exact. This bike tour was also a daily activity through the hotel with a Whistler Experience Guide. There are so many trails that take you all through Whistler just ask for a bit of guidance from the hotel or bike rental company if you choose to head out on your own. And if you end up lost, hey- you’re in Whistler so you’re not doing all that bad. If you’re joining this excursion through the hotel bike rentals are $18 for adults and $5 for children.
Polar plunge in Green Lake
I have to laugh at myself for how naïve I was before hopping in Green Lake. The words, “I’m not worried about how cold it is- I swim in the Atlantic,” literally came out of my mouth. Okay Hannah, well this is a glacier fed like meaning it is ICE COLD. I dipped my toes in and it was bearable so I went completely under. When I came up from the water it was physically hard for me to breathe, my entire body was an icicle. Dramatic? Yes, but whatever. Mind you, I had been biking all day so I was quite warm and was looking to cool down. Well I got my wish and so much more. Even if you don’t want to swim here you still need to make it a point to see it up close. I’ve never seen water this shade of blue before but now its engrained in my memory forever. An afternoon well spent.
Early morning swim at Lost Lake
Like, really early. I saw Lost Lake mid-day during the bike tour and it looked nothing like this. Locals and travelers flock to its shores to sunbathe and cool off from the heat. Your best bet is to leave the village around 6:45/7:00am and it shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes to get there if you’re driving. I believe parking is free until 10:45am too. Walk the trail until you see the dock on your left and head down. This was my favorite morning in Whistler. Just look at how serene this lake is. With the white light peaking over the mountains and the nearly perfect reflection. SWOON.
One of the most beautiful waterfalls I have ever set my sights on. I could have stayed here for hours, maybe it was the waterfall or maybe it was the company- regardless you can’t miss this.
Hydrotherapy at Scandinave Spa
Self-care is so important, even when you’re traveling. I have such a bad habit of not taking the time to rest when I’m exploring a new location but Scandinave made me take a step back. Hydrotherapy is one of the best ways to relax. It’s a combination of cycling between hot water, cold water and a relaxation portion. The hot cycles take place in eucalyptus steam rooms, outdoor hot baths, Finnish wood-burning saunas or dry saunas. The cold cycles are Nordic waterfalls, rain showers and cold plunge pools. I have to say, I was not prepared for just how cold the cold cycles were. Honestly, I found them a bit uncomfortable until my third cycle. But they are a necessary step in the process of achieving total relaxation. The final stage in the process is rest. Head to the hammocks or one of the upper decks to relax. My favorite spot was the hammocks, swaying back and forth in the alpine air just felt so pure.
Something else that’s unique about Scandinave is that you cannot bring your phone or camera into the spa area and talking is not permitted. This forces you to completely relax. For someone that lives on her phone and is constantly communicating, it gave me a bit of anxiety but disconnecting is always good and I always feel so much more refreshed afterward.
Explore the Village + Whistler Farmers’ Market
After you’ve seen everything you wanted to, walk through Whistler Village. There is heaps of shopping, restaurants, and weekly events like concerts and farmers markets.
Experience Vallea Lumina
What might seem like a quiet walk through the forest after dark will turn out to be one of the coolest audio and visual experiences of your life. This twilight walk tells the tale of two hikers that got lost in the mountains of Whistler through music, lights and special effects.
Admittedly I did zero hiking while I was in Whistler. Mostly because my schedule was jam packed with all of the above. But I am so excited to get back here this fall and get on the trails. What I am looking forward to most is Upper Joffre Lakes and Garibaldi Lake. Garibaldi is about a 30km journey (that would be over 18.5 miles). I might be a crazy person but the views and experience will be worth it. I hope? Stay tuned for that adventure.
I have to give it to Whistler for really delivering in the food category. One of the hardest things for me when I travel is finding gluten free and dairy free menu options with lots of veggies. And if I want a vegan restaurant- HA. Jokes on me. I really dislike not being able to enjoy the food when I travel, it is one of the most frustrating things because it is one of the main reasons some people travel and one of the things y’all ask about the most!
Whistler has changed the game. If you’ve been following along for a while you know I like to eat as raw as possible because that’s when I feel and function my best- on top of being gf/df. Here are a few spots that really hit it home for me in Whistler.
Breakfast: Fifi’s Bistro
Located in the Upper Village, just 5 minutes from the Fairmont, is Fifi’s. They focus on scratch made cooking with fresh, local and sustainably sourced produce. The owners, Max and Kara, did an amazing job on the menu making sure vegetarians and meat eaters can both enjoy a meal and a bottle of wine at the same table. For all of you df/gf people out there like me, they’ve also got you covered!
Afternoon pick me up or lunch: Green Moustache
Smoothie and vegan food heaven. I grabbed a smoothie on the way to Brandywine Falls. It was just what I needed. But they have other menu options like collard wraps, veggie bowls, raw desserts, and salads.
Anytime: Portobello Market and Fresh Bakery
This is part of the Fairmont Chateau Whistler. Now before you get to judging this hotel café, hold your horses. This was unlike any other hotel café I’ve ever experienced and it puts those hotels with Starbucks in them to shame. You can order nearly anything your heart desires as the range of options is endless like vegetarian, gluten free and vegan options! OMG! The raw bliss balls were delicious too. I think I ate at least one a day. They’re completely vegan and flourless made with cacao, coconut flakes, nut butters, oats, honey and a bunch of other delicious, raw ingredients. I can nearly taste them. I was so happy to see a corner of the very big pastry counter dedicated to vegan and gluten free options, especially after seeing all of the Instagrammable donuts that I couldn’t have.
How to get to Whistler from Vancouver
Getting to Whistler is SO easy. Pacific Coach Lines runs a bus from several locations in Vancouver, including the airport and from a location downtown. Leaving from Whistler the bus does pick-ups at several hotels and the Gateway Loop (main area where buses drop off). The drive is about three hours but it is so scenic! Pacific Coach Lines also has WiFi and facilities on board. If you book outside of 24 hours of when you’re set to travel between Vancouver and Whistler tickets are as low as $27.50CAD which is $21.04USD. This is less expensive than getting to the airport in Boston from Maine, on just a one way! Mind blown. Convincing me even further to move 😉
There is something about Whistler that just feels like home to me. The people that live there, both the locals and expats from around the world, are some of the kindest people I’ve ever encountered while traveling. The insane mountain views, freezing cold lakes, endless opportunities to get outside, and the way I could walk around and feel like I belong there was just something I’ve never experienced before. Whistler might be it for me. I always say when I travel I’m looking for a place to settle down and for me, Whistler just clicked. Thinking about it there gives me butterflies and I cannot wait to be back. A huge thank you to Lynn, Bree, Rikki and the rest of the Tourism Whistler and Fairmont Chateau Whistler teams for making my stay in Whistler one I will never forget.