For adventure, restaurants and accommodations, there’s nothing better than Whistler Blackcomb

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Spectacular, breathtaking, world class and epic are just a few of the words that describe my weekend at Whistler Blackcomb.

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Excitement builds as you depart from Vancouver Airport with convenient Skylynx shuttles. It’s a two-hour drive on the famous Sea to Sky highway, through some of the most breathtaking scenery you’ll find anywhere in the world.

Whistler Blackcomb is undoubtedly the ancestor of resorts in Canada. It is North America’s largest ski resort, continuously ranked #1 in North America, and features 8,171 skiable acres, 200 marked trails, a one-mile vertical drop, three glaciers, 16 bowls and 37 lifts. The resort has one of the longest ski seasons in North America, lasting eight months with an average snowfall of 1181cm per season.

I was really impressed with the variety of runs ranging from easy greens and blues to breathtaking double blacks, and even some adventurous cliff skiing. I spent most of my time in Whistler, the steeper Blackcomb offering more challenging trails.

You don’t have just one mountain to enjoy, but two giant mountains connected by the famous and scenic Peak 2 Peak Gondola. It is part of the world’s longest continuous lift system and travels 4.4km with serene aerial flight over incredible scenery including black bears in their protected habitat.

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With the magic of having over 8,000 acres, there are trails for everyone. In Whistler, beginners learn at the Olympic Station conveniently located at the middle gondola station in Whistler Village. At Blackcomb, beginners meet at the Magic Chair. The areas are well demarcated with easy elevator access offering private, semi-private and group lessons with multilingual instructors.

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What is also unique to big mountain skiing is the changing snow conditions as you descend. Slightly fluffy snow at the top turns into more sugary snow mid-mountain and then heavier mashed potato snow towards the bottom.

In Whistler, you can take the Whistler Village Gondola to the Roundhouse Lodge, or you can take your time and use all three chairlifts to get there. Once there, you’ll find casual restaurants, a bar, a cafeteria, and huge terraces all overlooking the mountains. Whistler’s summit has an elevation of 7,500 feet where the famous seven-mile Peak to Creek Trail begins. Blackcomb has equally stunning scenery with the Horstman Hut at an elevation of 7,494ft / 2,283m. Reservations are recommended for both lodges.

The fun at Whistler Blackcomb doesn’t stop at the mountains, it’s famous for its epic afternoons. The village has a cool bustling vibe with over 200 restaurants, cafes, lounges, bars, art gallery, fashion, jewelry and luxury items. Everything from a poutine stand to a champagne tasting in a wine cellar at Bearfoot Bistro.

There are four popular restaurants at the base of the village. Longhorns Saloon is the most popular with a gigantic outdoor patio and known for its DJ dance parties. There’s also the equally fun Black’s Pub, Garibaldi Lift Company and Dubh Linn Gate Irish Pub, all within a minute’s walk. If you’re looking for a quieter afternoon with just as much fun, take a walk around the village for cool spots like Beacon Pub and Eatery, Araxi Oyster Bar, Amsterdam Pub and Bearfoot’s Vodka Ice Room to name a few. .

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I really enjoyed dining at Il Caminetto, Whistler’s signature Italian restaurant with its unique menu, exceptional service and homemade pasta. I also enjoyed dinner at La Brasserie and La Bocca as well as breakfast at Hot Buns bakery.

In addition to restaurants, the village has over 200 retail stores including Lululemon, a hardware store, wine and beer store in a well-stocked market. For those like me who do not travel with skis, there are several rental shops including one that I really appreciated at the Salomon store with a unique valet parking service.

There are over 800 hotels in and around the village to suit all budgets, including some big names such as Fairmont, Westin and Hilton as well as a few smaller boutique hotels. I liked to state at Crystal Lodge with huge rooms including a small kitchen.

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Another unique feature of Whistler Blackcomb is that there is something for everyone. If you’re not a skier, I really enjoyed the Crystal Hut Fondue snowmobile ride thanks to Canadian Wilderness Adventures (www.canadianwilderness.com). The tour takes you to the top of Blackcomb overlooking the Whistler Night Lights. Another fantastic idea is ziplining with spectacular panoramic views of the village through treetop suspension bridges, courtesy of Ziptrek Ecotours (www.ziptrek.com). There are also Olympic-caliber cross-country ski trails.

For a quieter evening with family or lovers, I also strongly recommend a 45-minute walk in a mystical forest. Called Vallea Luminia, the boardwalk is a multimedia exhibit with thousands of lights and sounds reflecting the natural beauty and local culture of Whistler (www.vallealumina.com).

All in all, Whistler Blackcomb is not only the granddaddy of resort towns in North America, but it’s also a national treasure that stands proudly in the beautiful Coast Mountains of spectacular British Columbia.

Thanks to Destination British Columbia Stephen Ogden as well as Whistler Manager, Travel Media, Tania Sear for making my experience so memorable. I’ll be back!

Glenn Crouter is a ski journalist for Newstalk 1010, co-host of the Head for the Hills podcast and local ambassador for the Canadian Ski Council.

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