Whistler, two hours north of Vancouver, is one of the world’s top ski resorts, whose two mountains, Blackcomb and Whistler, together offer the largest ski area on the continent. Whistler Village, at the base of the two mountains, is a pedestrian-friendly town with all the creature comforts of an international year-round resort. The village’s 10,000 plus permanent and 2,700 seasonal residents and 11,500 second-home owners welcome over 2.3 million visitors each year.
Skiers and boarders flock here for the resort's 200+ marked runs, 16 alpine bowls, three glaciers and five terrain parks. The lift system, with 37 lifts, is among the most advanced in the world, and the season, running from late November to late May, with glacier skiing on Blackcomb into July, is among the longest in the world. In addition, in December 2008 Whistler Blackcomb opened the $52 million, world record-breaking PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola. Spanning 4.4 kilometres (2.73 miles) in total distance from mountain to mountain, the Doppelmayr 3S tri-cable gondola is the world's longest unsupported span of 3.024 kilometres (1.88 miles) between the furthest length of the two towers. Total ride time is 11 marvel-filled minutes, with a lift capacity of 4,100 passengers per hour, with two of the Sky Cabins boasting glass bottoms. Transporting winter and summer guests from Whistler Mountain's Roundhouse Lodge to the Rendezvous Lodge on Blackcomb Mountain, PEAK 2 PEAK gives unprecedented access to both mountains' expansive and unique high alpine terrain and spectacular vistas.
The pedestrian-friendly, alpine-inspired, ski-in/ski-out village is rich with boutiques, hotels, nightclubs, condos, restaurants, day spas, pubs, cafes, art galleries and shops. Whistler is very much a four-season resort and the town bustles with local and visitors alike 12 months of the year. In summer, mountain bikers and hikers take advantage of the plethora of trails, while winter brings avid skiers and boarders in search of fresh powder to the hills.
It's not all about skiing and boarding in winter though: here you can also cross-country ski, snowshoe, snowmobile, ride a horse-drawn sleigh, ice skate, drive a dogsled, try your hand at biathlon, or take a snowcat or helicopter into the untouched backcountry. Adventurists can even hit the track at the Whistler Sliding Centre, a legacy of the 2010 Winter Games, with bobsleigh and skeleton experiences.
In summer, when more than half of its 2.3 million annual visitors visit Whistler, things only seem quieter, as people spread out across the area to cycle, hike, walk and rollerblade along the level 40-kilometre (25-mile) Whistler Valley Trail, check out the 200+ kilometres (124 miles) of maintained double and single track cross-country trail or the 200 kilometres of lift-serviced trails in Whistler Mountain Bike Park, a world leader in lift access downhill mountain biking, or try one of four championship golf courses in the area. Five local lakes are stocked with trout, and lifts transport hikers to over 50 kilometres of hiking, running and interpretive walking trails. Rafting, canoeing, horseback riding, ziplining (flying through the woods on wires strung through the trees), forest canopy walks and, of course, dining and shopping, are also options.
At the base of the two mountains are Whistler Village and Upper Village. Much of it is car-free, and is generally known as the Village. The gondola bases for Whistler Blackcomb are at the village edge, so many guests can ski straight from their hotels.
The Whistler Sliding Centre, on Blackcomb Mountain near the village, hosted bobsleigh, luge and skeleton events during the 2010 Winter Games.
Another village centre, called Whistler Creekside, is on Highway 99 a few kilometres south of the main village. Olympic and Paralympic alpine skiing (speed and technical events) took place here during the 2010 Winter Games.
Whistler Olympic Park, in the Callaghan Valley 20 minutes south of Whistler Village, hosted the cross-country skiing, Nordic combined, ski jumping and biathlon events during the 2010 Winter Games.
Blackcomb Peak: 2,284 metres/7,494 feet
Whistler Peak: 2,182 metres/7,160 feet
Highest lift-accessed elevation: 2,284 metres/7,494 feet
Vertical: 1609 metres/5280 feet (Blackcomb)
1530 metres/5020 feet (Whistler)
Skiable terrain: 3,307 hectares/ 8,171 acres
Number of marked trails: 200+
Number of lifts: 37
Average annual snowfall: 11.9 metres/39.1 feet
Village elevation: 675 metres/2,214 feet
Latitude/Longitude: 50º N, 123º W
Distance from Vancouver: 123 kilometres (76 miles)
· TripAdvisor (2014) Whistler named in “Best Canadian Destinations” and two Whistler hotels named in “Best Hotels in Canada”.
· Google Canada (2013) Whistler named as “Google Canada’ eTown of the year”.
· Travel + Leisure (2013) – Whistler resorts named in “World’s Best Hotels” and “World’s Best Hotels for Families”.
· SCORE Golf Magazine (2013) Fairmont Chateau Whistler Golf Course, Big Sky Golf Course and Nicklaus North Golf Course named in the “Canada’s Top 59 Public Courses”.
· Examiner.com (2013) Scandinave Spa Whistler named in the “Top 50 Canadian Spas”.
· Condé Nast Traveler magazine (2013), a trend-setter in the travel industry, has awarded three of Whistler’s resorts top spots in the annual "Reader’s Choice Awards – Best of the Americas" survey and four of Whistler’s resorts in “Best of Canada”.
· Trip Advisor’s Travellers Choice Awards (2013) has named First Tracks Lodge, Nita Lake Lodge, Pan Pacific Village Centre and Four Seasons Resort Whistler in the Top 25 Hotels in Canada.