We decided our 10th Anniversary was the perfect opportunity to take a getaway with just Mama and Daddy. We honeymooned in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and loved it so we considered going back to there to reminisce. However, after thinking about it more we decided that we would like to see and experience a new destination. After researching using Trip Advisor we decided on Whistler, Canada. We knew experiencing Whistler in winter would be a perfect choice.
Our first day was spent traveling. Since we were coming from Florida it was a long day. We flew into Vancouver airport where we picked up our rental car. When planning our trip I researched the various ways to travel to Vancouver. There are several options including charter buses, limos, and rental vehicles.
My sister in law used to live in Seattle and she told us how beautiful the drive on the Sea-to-Sky Highway was. We were a little hesitant to drive in Whistler in winter but she said we were likely to have no problems getting there dependent upon the weather. Once she shared this information we made up our minds that we would rent a car. We liked the idea that we would have the freedom to stop if we wanted to (as well as the fact that we felt like the car would be a little more romantic than the charter bus).
We were so happy we made this choice. It was one of the most amazing drives I’ve ever been on. Just as the name suggests the road runs alongside water and the mountains. Truly remarkable!
Where To Stay-Nita Lake Lodge
We arrived at our destination after a long day of travel. The Nita Lake Lodge was where we would stay for our romantic getaway. We stayed in the One Bedroom suite (pictured below). We really enjoyed the style and set up of the suite.
When you walk in the room to your right are wardrobe/closets. The first is an actual closet and the second had a mini-fridge, coffee maker, and sink inside. To the left is the bathroom. It is a large bathroom with a shower, a private toilet area, and a large soaking bath. As you proceed into the room there was a family/sitting room that included a couch, chair, and tv. Then there was a King-sized bed.
Our room had a sliding door with a balcony off the back. The sliding door was unique in that you could lift it up and make a crack to cool down the room. Of course, since we were visiting Whistler in winter we did not utilize the balcony that often. However, it was nice to be able to look out over Lake Nita with the mountains in the back when we had the shades open. To take a walk through tour of our room be sure to check out our youtube video below.
While we really enjoyed Nita Lake Lodge it was somewhat removed from Whistler Village. The lodge had a van that ran every 30 minutes that would take you to down to the Village. We utilized this whenever we wanted to go to the village. We really only used our rental car one time to go to the Scandanave Spa. The package we bought included breakfast at the lodge restaurant-Aura. Each morning we could choose a meal off of their breakfast menu. Pictured below is the Nita Lake Breakfast. I would highly suggest this. While there might be more affordable options in the village, it was nice to be able to go right down stairs and eat.
The lodge also had a spa that I enjoyed, more on that later. In the same area of the spa they also had a pool and hot tub on the roof. We never went in these as it was snowing almost the whole time we were there.
One thing that was difficult to understand when planning our trip to Whistler in winter was understanding the layout of the resort. There are basically three general areas in Whistler in relation to being close to the mountains. Creekside is the original Whistler area. There are hotels and a few restaurants in this area. Our hotel was within walking distance of Creekside. The next area is the Village. I would say this is the main hub of Whistler. This where the majority of restaurants, shops, and excursions leave from. The village is pedestrian-only which is nice especially if you are bringing along your children. Village North is a little more secluded and often a good choice for families who are looking for more condo-style lodging at a cheaper price. It is walkable to Whistler village which is also a nice perk!
Rentals & Lift Tickets
How can you go to Whistler in Winter without hitting the slopes? So, of course, our first full day we decided to go snowboarding. Being Floridians we had no gear of our own so our first stop was rentals. We were recommended to CanSki Creekside. The people were very friendly and got us all ready to go with our ski helmets and snowboards. The next stop was the lift ticket. There is a separate building where you can purchase your lift ticket. I believe you can also purchase these ahead of time through whistlerblackcomb.com but we waited until we got there since we weren’t positive about exactly what day we would be skiing. The lift tickets were $170-which I thought was quite steep for a lift ticket. However, I have also never skied at a resort-like this before.
Hitting The Slopes
To say Whistler is hardcore is an understatement. My goal was to make it down the mountain without dying-ha! (But seriously :). We decided we would go up to Roundhouse Lodge (evelavation 6,069 ft) and make our way down the mountain. Now for some reason the fact that I hadn’t snowboarded in 10 years fleeted my mind when I decided we would just hit the mountain without lessons. If I had to go back and do it again I would probably do a 1/2 a day lesson or even a couple of hours private lesson. However, I didn’t so it was a rough start on the mountain.
With a little guidance from the hubs, I was able to get going. We actually only did the mountain twice-that tells you a) I was out of shape or b) the mountain was really big. The answer-C-all of the above. So my advice is before going out to Whistler sign up for lessons the first day (Whistler Blackcomb Snow School) and start doing squats now. You’ll thank me later!
One mistake we made while skiing was not realizing that there were two separate mountains that you can come down. So while we did our rentals at Creekside we actually skied down and ended up in Whistler Village. Both are located on Whistler Mountain but are very far apart. You cannot return by foot-unless you want to walk about 15-20 miles. So we paid a couple of dollars to ride the city bus back to Creekside to return our equipment. So be sure to study your map before going or while you are on the mountain to be sure you are coming down the same place you went up.
Hours Of Operation
The only other thing to realize about skiing in Whistler is that the mountain is not open very long. The slopes open at 9 am and close at 3 pm. So you want to manage your time well. Due to the limited time we could snowboard, we spent the whole day on the mountain. The only eating we really did was we stopped for a snack at the Roundhouse Lodge. I had a hot chocolate and my husband got a coffee and energy bar. This is definitely the best option as it does not waste very much time. There are also other food choices.
Where To Eat (Creekside)
Needless to say when we finished dropping off the rental gear we were ready to eat. The fine folks at CanSki recommended Dusty’s bar & grill (especially the sweet potato fries). Dusty’s did not disappoint. The food was delicious and the atmosphere was very laid back. We ordered the sweet potato fries, chili and brisket. It was all delicious but the sweet potato fries were my favorite thing I ate while in Whistler. I would go back just for those fries! After eating at Dusty’s we headed back to our hotel to freshen up for our nighttime activity.
One of the things I found to do in Whistler when researching was the Whistler Scandanva Spa. I thought it would be the perfect activity to do to rejuvenate our sore muscles. It was quite the experience. When you arrive you check in and pay or submit your voucher. I purchased our tickets through Whistler Blackcomb so I believe they were discounted more than if you purchased them at the spa. When you check-in you will be given a robe and a key to a locker. You then can go in and change into your bathing suit. (We actually wore our bathing suits under our clothes so all we had to do was take our clothes off-just remember to bring underclothes for after.).
After changing my husband and I met up in the lobby. We then exited out the top doors. This was a mistake. We had to walk barefooted through snow-covered stairs-funny and painful all at the same time. So after you change be sure to exit out the back doors of the dressing room. This will lead you outside to the area with all the stations.
Once you arrive outside there are various installations you can go to. There are several options and there is no right/wrong way to do it. The only suggestion is that you do a hot station and then immediately after a cold station. Then they suggest you do a relaxation installation. The hot choices are Eucalyptus Steam Bath, Wood Burning Sauna, Finnish Sauna, and Hot Baths. The cold choices are Nordic Waterfall, Nordic Showers, and Cold Plunge Baths. The relaxation choices are Solariums, Hammock Haven (summer only), Outdoor Fireplaces, and Multi-purpose Yoga Studio. Another suggestion is to do the rotation 2-3 times. It is a completely silent environment so that is definitely something to be ready for. You can see a recap of our experience in the video below. We thought it was very interesting and was a nice way to wrap up our day on the slopes.
It’s hard to believe we did so much in our first 2 days in Whistler. While we do most of our traveling as a family it is always important and nice to just get away as a couple. If you are looking for a family-friendly destination for first-time skiers be sure to check out our post “Snow skiing with kids the first time“. Sign up for our newsletter so you will be notified when part 2 of Whistler in Winter is published. Let us in the comments below what questions you have about planning a trip out to Whistler in winter. Stay Peachy!