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A First-Timer’s Guide to Whistler

  • Written by Anees Saddique

Whistler ranks among the best skiing region in the world. Located in British Columbia in Canada, the resort attracts thousands of skiers and holidaymakers each year. Families bring their children for a snowy getaway rub shoulders with professional winter sports athletes. And what could be nicer than staying in a traditional log cabin from Luxury Retreats? Just picture waking up to the snow-capped mountains and having a cup of coffee next to your log fire! If you’re feeling exciting, check out the essentials every visitor should know about Whistler.

When to Visit

If you want to take advantage of the snow, visit Whistler anytime between October and March. Snow begins to fall as early as September in some years, but only starts to stick when the temperatures drop a few weeks later. The best skiing conditions are usually towards the end of January when the snow has become more compact. Christmas is the most beautiful and magical time in Whistler, but you’ll be sharing the small town with thousands of others. Whistler isn’t just about winter sports. If you visit in the summer, you have mild weather conditions which are ideal for hiking the trails up the mountains.

Where to Stay in Whistler

Whistler covers an area that’s often much larger than most visitors think. And you have the choice of a few main areas to book your accommodation. Most tourists stay in the central Whistler Village. Here you’ll find most of the cafes, bars and restaurants. And plenty of hotels, resorts and vacation rentals to choose from. If you visit in the winter, you’ll have an almost magical atmosphere in the town centre. Winter sports enthusiasts who want to make the most out of their time on the more advanced slopes often stay in Upper Village. The accommodation is much more basic than the ones in the town. And you won’t have the chance to experience the level of luxurious. But you'll be next to the region’s most advanced slopes on Blackcomb Mountain. Visitors looking to have more of a local experience can find accommodation in Blueberry Hill, Village North and Creekside.

Essential Tips for Whistler

Unless you’re coming to Whistler just to put your feet up and relax, you need to plan your trip. This includes choosing the best time of the year to visit and where to find the most suitable place to stay. You need to consider peak season if you want to avoid the crowds. And you need to make sure the snow conditions are just right if you’re here to ski.

Travellers visiting in the winter also need to feel confident driving along mountain roads in wintery conditions. A 4x4 is a must, and you need to take measures in case you break down. Temperatures can plummet quickly and the weather conditions can change from sunny to almost no visibility in a matter of minutes. Make sure you feel confident to drive.

When you arrive in whistler, have an idea of what you want to do. If you’re here to go skiing (a roundup of the best runs below), get all your equipment ready the day before. Buy your ski lift tickets the day before. The more you prepare the day before, the faster you’ll get to the slopes. You can also take advantage of equipment storage facilities in Whistler rather than dragging it around with you. The most central location is a Carleton Lodge, which is free if you’re renting equipment.

The best Places to Ski

The region has more than 200 marked runs over 8000 acres of mountains. You’ll find the easier ones on Whistler Mountain, which is where most people spend their time. The most challenging ones ranging up to double black can be found on Blackcomb Mountain. Out there, you’ll find much longer, steeper and more precarious runs. If this is your first time, you’re recommended to spend your time on Whistler. You can try some of the other ones on other mountains, but aim to spend most your time in one place. You can always try other runs next year. Experienced skiers who want to try the ‘must-do’ runs can head to Blue Line, Gun Barrels and the Staircase. The most adrenaline pumping (and dangerous) is known as Surf’s Up. But this should only be attempted by the experienced.

When you arrive, you should download the Whistler-Blackcomb App. This provides the latest weather conditions at the top of the mountains. And gives you a chance to make the weather work for you. Rather than getting to the top of the slope to find the fog descending, you can go up when the conditions clear up. This gives you the edge of the other skiers who don’t use the app. Another top tip is to take advantage of the skip-line chairlift tickets. During some of the peak times, you might have to wait up to 30 minutes just to get to the top. But if you invest in a fast-track ticket, you can get up much quicker. This lets you maximise the time you spend on the runs!

What to Remember

If this is your first time to Whistler, the best time to ski is around late January. But snow falls from October to March. You should plan your trip carefully to make sure you have the best trip possible. And you have to feel confident driving along the icy mountain rounds. If you’re here to go skiing, head to Whistler for the easier slopes. Or check out the tougher more adrenaline pumping runs on Blackcomb.

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