Arthur and I wanted to do a father/son skiing trip over the President’s Day weekend, so we thought we’d check out Whistler/Blackcomb up in British Columbia since neither of us had ever been there. Arthur attends Western Washington University in Bellingham, which is only about 20 miles south of the Canadian border, making Whistler a convenient weekend destination.
Unfortunately, dear old dad almost outfoxed himself by waiting too long to make lodging reservations. Apparently a lot of Americanos wind up in Whistler over this particular weekend. But as things turned out, that almost mistake was a blessing in disguise, because we ended up staying “off mountain” in a delightful little B&B, the Chalet Luise (http://www.chaletluise.com/). Very definitely recommended!
I was a little concerned about the having to deal with the hassle of driving and parking a car every day to go skiing since the chalet is not ski in/ski out. But that wasn’t an issue at all. We simply took a five minute cab ride each morning to whichever mountain we were starting on, and then walked back to the chalet at the end of the day. The walk took 10 or 15 minutes, but it was mostly downhill. We could’ve taken a cab back, too, if we had wanted to, but the walk was a nice way to unwind. Given what we saved on lodging costs we could’ve taken a dozen cab trips each day and come out ahead.
Chalet Luise is very nicely appointed. Our room, with private bath, was quite cozy and more than adequate for our needs. The hot tub was a delight, and the complimentary cooked breakfast was wonderful. Most important of all, the clientele, service and environment were nice and friendly. Definitely worth checking out. We plan on returning whenever we’re in Whistler.
As to the ski resort itself, wow! The lift tickets were expensive ($95/day) but actually worth it given how many runs there are. Even on one of the busiest weekends of the year the only real lines were when we were first getting up the mountain in the morning. After that, a 10 minute wait was unusually long. As one of those oddball skiers who have never learned to enjoy powder or moguls, I was impressed by how many great groomed runs there were. Arthur found plenty of more challenging slopes for his board as well. I particularly liked being able to do 10 to 15 minute (mostly nonstop) runs before having to face those cold chairlifts…
It was interesting being at the resort that hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics skiing and snowboarding events. I kept looking for runs that were familiar from the TV coverage. I think at one point I accidentally got on the stretch where Lindsay Von blew out in her downhill slalom. All I can say is it’s still pretty difficult even when you’re not moving at Olympic speeds and get to turn when and where you want to, rather than where they’ve placed those pesky flags.
One trick we learned from the chalet’s owners was to eat lunch at either of the two base camps on the slightly early side (11:30 or so). Most of the skiers eat at one of the several large lodges up mountain, so the base camp is relatively quiet. The lines to get back up are usually pretty light as well.
Besides being connected by some runs, lifts and gondolas at the base camp level, you can cross between Blackcomb and Whistler mountains by taking the Peak2Peak gondola. Which, as the signs proudly announce, will suspend you about 1,500 feet above the floor of the valley between the two mountains at the midpoint. The trip takes 11 minutes. Stick to the red gondolas unless you like having a glass window out onto the view below your feet. Oh, and you should probably not read about how the system has the longest unsupported span of any gondola system in the world until after you take it. Oops, too late :).