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The enormity of the Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort in Canada is appealing but often overwhelming. A strategy is required for skiing the right terrain at the right time. The resort is comprised of two adjacent mountains, which are connected by the Peak to Peak gondola. Its 8,100 acres of terrain receive an annual average of 360 inches of snow, and are divided into 15 percent beginner, 55 percent intermediate, 15 percent advanced and 15 percent expert trails. The resort boasts 12 bowls, three glaciers and more than 200 trails. Lift tickets cost $96 Canadian in 2010. Whistler Blackcomb Resort 4545 Blackcomb Way Whistler BC, Canada V0N 1B4 (866) 218-9690 whistlerblackcomb.com
When to Go
There’s a reason why the Olympic Committee chose February for the 2010 Winter Olympics at Whistler Blackcomb. Snow conditions are best between late January and mid-February. This is not a holiday or spring break season, so the resort will be less crowded. March is extremely crowded with spring break visitors from all parts of the globe. Shakespeare’s warning about the “ides of March” could be applied to Whistler around Saint Patrick’s Day. The resort is exceptionally crowded, and the parties are rowdy.
How to Get There
Whistler was designed as a pedestrian village, so you don’t need a car. Perimeter Bus will pick you up at Vancouver Airport or downtown Vancouver. The trip takes two to three hours, depending on weather conditions. In 2010, round-trip fares ranged from $102 to $128 Canadian, depending on your pick-up and drop-off point. Perimeter Bus 410-319 West Pender Street Vancouver, BC V6B 1T3 Canada (604) 717-6600 perimeterbus.com
Most people have heard of the legendary Pacific Northwest rain. Rainy days at Whistler often cause people to take a day off from skiing, but if it’s raining in the village, it is usually snowing on the upper part of the mountain. Seek higher ground, and you’ll be treated to great conditions. Watch out, however, for late afternoon snow and whiteout conditions. If you are skiing a cat-track during a whiteout, get off the track and into a bowl or a wider trail. This will provide you with a greater margin of error if you lose your balance. Be sure to bring a goggle wipe.
If you’ve never skied Whistler, sign up for the free, 90-minute tour of the mountain. The Whistler orientation tour meets at the guest satisfaction center at the top of the Whistler gondola. The Blackcomb tour meets at the top of the Solar Coaster Express lift.
Beginners can have fun on Whiskey Jack and Ego Bowl on Whistler Mountain. Confident novices can ski Burnt Stew, a long and winding trail that goes around the perimeter of the mountain. This is a perfect trail for groups of mixed abilities, because the novices can stay on Burnt Stew, the more experienced skiers can ski in the bowls and everyone can remain in eye-shot of each other. Intermediates can hone their skills on the wide-open blue trails of Blackcomb Mountain, and advanced skiers will enjoy big mountain bowl skiing on Whistler and Blackcomb, as well as the Blackcomb Glacier.
End of Day Suggestions
It’s tempting to get your bragging rights by skiing from top to bottom. Most people try it at least once, but they usually regret it. Everyone skis down the same route at the end of the day. The snow at the lower part of the mountain has a high water density, making it difficult to ski. Downloading on the gondola is a safer choice.
Hitting the blissful slopes of British Columbia’s Whistler Blackcomb, the biggest, wildest, craziest, friendliest, most eco-conscious ski resort
One day this winter, I was gliding down a gentle curve on Blackcomb Mountain in British Columbia. It was early afternoon, on my second full day of skiing at the Whistler Blackcomb resort. The slope began to level out, and my thoughts grew as lofty as the clouds topping the surrounding Coast Mountains. I shivered, anticipating the next day’s heli-skiing trip. I ran through arguments that might persuade my risk-averse ski buddies to try a few more black diamond runs. I was “out there.”
The reverie of the moment, though, was suddenly interrupted by a sharp tug on my right leg. My rented Völkl skis snagged an edge, sending me tumbling down to the run’s bottom. Fully caked in snow, I looked up to see a bearded face gazing at me with a concerned expression. “Are you OK?” the man said. “There’s a ski patrol base right up the hill…” And then, with that lovely Canadian restraint: “…That is, if you need it.”
If skiing experiences were fine art, Whistler Blackcomb would be the Metropolitan Museum, an expertly curated collection so vast that one week of daily visits is little more than an introduction. The resort boasts 8,171 acres of skiable terrain spread across more than 200 runs. Thirty-eight lifts can carry more than 60,000 skiers per hour up a staggering 10,300 feet of vertical. The two mountains, Whistler and Blackcomb, are joined at the base and nestled high in Canada’s Coast Mountains. On clear days you can look out from the lifts and take in a dramatic view—mountain ridges bristling with snow-dusted fir trees, back-dropped by the craggy peaks and glaciers of Garibaldi Provincial Park.
The Pacific coast’s varied weather and relatively heavy, wet snowfall have led to a longstanding debate over how Whistler stacks up against Colorado’s Vail Ski Resort, with its older pedigree and famously dry “champagne” powder. But the competitive terrain has shifted since the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, which brought many improvements to Whistler’s infrastructure. The governments of Canada and British Columbia spent $600 million transforming the notoriously treacherous Sea-to-Sky Highway into a safer and wider road. This cliff-hanging stretch of Highway 99 runs from Vancouver’s Horseshoe Bay up through the mountains to Whistler and beyond. (My skiing partners and I easily navigated the midwinter jaunt in a chain-less Toyota Prius.)
The Peak 2 Peak Gondola, which carries skiers nearly three miles to and from Whistler and Blackcomb, in Canada’s Coast Mountains.JORDAN MANLEY FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Cross-country skiers can now take in more than 50 miles of trails at the new Whistler Olympic Park, a short drive from the downhill slopes. Nearby, the Whistler Sliding Center is planning to launch a public skeleton program later this year and a bobsled run in 2012. These enhancements build on 2008’s completion of the $50 million-budgeted Peak 2 Peak Gondola, an engineering marvel that floats skiers from Whistler to Blackcomb and back, spanning almost three miles of alpine air. Whistler Blackcomb is well on its way to leaving its American rival behind, becoming to many North America’s premier ski destination.
It’s not only the slopes that make the resort accommodating. Many of the add-up costs of skiing are complimentary at Whistler Blackcomb: free cubbies in Whistler Village to stash your sneakers; free tool stations on the slopes for making on-mountain adjustments; free orientation tours from local “mountain hosts.” Complimentary shuttles ferry skiers back and forth between the mountains’ bases. The village itself is a model of car-free planning, an inviting warren of pedestrian promenades that wind past boutiques and restaurants. Whether you rent a $700-per-night ski-to-door chalet, or a $50-per-night hostel, you won’t need a vehicle.
It’s also more at one with nature than many 4-star resorts—quite literally: Palm-sized birds called Gray Jays hop from ski pole to pole, some even landing on skiers’ heads. Whistler appears to have bested the Sisyphean challenge of keeping the ecosystem pristine while hosting 2 million visitors annually. Programs like reusable cups have diverted more than 60 percent of the resort’s waste stream away from landfills.
FAST FIVE: SKI HELMETS
Head’s up! Protect your noggin and look sharp doing it with these advanced, lightweight helmets.
Whistler’s relative isolation in the Coast Range means an abundance of world-class heli-skiing—about 400,000 acres—accessible by a few minutes’ chopper ride. On my final day there I booked a three-run package (for $815) with Whistler Heli-Skiing. My eight-person group was given an avalanche safety orientation, and then we rode a Bell 205 to our first run, a creamy geometry of untouched powder. Our guide reminded us of the basics of powder skiing: you turn by rhythmic bouncing, with equal weight on each foot. One by one we slipped down the mountain, our tracks overlaying in an argyle pattern. After two runs we stopped for lunch, while our guide gallantly blazed a trail off into the deep snow, providing us two makeshift pit stops.
For the day’s final run we flew to the top of Rainbow Glacier. For the first time, it was truly cold, maybe five degrees. We descended about 1,000 feet into the 3,000-foot run. The air warmed. I picked up speed, bouncing from turn to turn. The new snow opened up with a zipper-like sound, and my attention shifted to the mountains encircling the distant horizon. A moment later, I was dealt another blow by Whistler’s formidable combination of gravity and bliss, losing both of my skis and leaving me with a mouth full of powder. I came up laughing, knowing that it wouldn’t be long before it happened yet again.
We finally broke through low-hanging clouds into blue sky, revealing snow covered peaks in every direction. I felt a rush of excitement gazing out at Whistler’s steep terrain.
Over 13 inches of snow had fallen in the last 2 days. Rising early for first tracks, I could hear muffled blasts of avalanche explosives on the lift ride up.
I was visiting Whistler for the first time with Kiersten from The Blonde Abroad to check activities off our LifeProof Winter Bucket List, and snowboarding was my number one priority.
The Whistler-Blackcomb mountains have been teasing me in my dreams for years. It had been a few years since my last big snowboarding adventure — and there’s nothing quite like the anticipation of a solid powder day after a long stretch of no action.
Whistler-Blackcomb Ski Resort
Whistler-Blackcomb is the largest ski resort in North America, ranked #1 overall in SKI Magazine’s annual reader poll for 2015. With 2 separate mountains, 200+ runs, 39 lifts and 8,000 acres of terrain, it’s a skiing & snowboarding paradise.
Especially when you take into account the 38 feet of annual snowfall it receives due to its proximity to the Pacific. Combine that with 3 glaciers, incredible backcountry, and a world-class mountain village — it becomes obvious why readers continue to vote for it year after year.
Would the mountain live up to its famous reputation? I was about to find out.
Riding Above The Clouds
Weather conditions at Whistler can be deceiving. While it may appear dark & gloomy in the valley, once you rise above the clouds it might be a perfect blue-bird day. You never really know until you see for yourself.
I spent 7 days on the mountain over the course of 2 weeks up in Whistler. Most of that time was riding the high ridges, bowls, and glades on Blackcomb Mountain. Places with names like Hortsman Glacier, Secret Bowl, and the 7th Heaven Everglades.
The sheer amount of terrain to explore is difficult to grasp.
A few days is not enough time to experience everything, hell I rode for a week and didn’t see it all. I fully understand why so many people from around the world decide to become ski bums here… I almost got sucked in too!
The thought of spending all winter on these mountains was tempting.
I grew up skiing and snowboarding in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, eventually moving to Montana’s Rocky Mountains in college. So it has been a long-time passion of mine — floating through trees in deep powder, speeding down fast groomers, dropping into open bowls, or launching over small cliffs.
Whistler has everything you could possibly want. I couldn’t believe the type of runs you have lift access to! Steep chutes and heavenly bowls all around. In Montana you’d be forced to hike for this stuff.
Here it was only a short stroll away from the lift…
Another marvel is Whistler-Blackcomb’s Peak 2 Peak gondola, which takes you between the mountains on a 3 mile journey over dizzying heights of 1400 feet.
This remarkable lift holds multiple records — a scenic adventure all by itself.
A good ski town vibe is the heart of a great mountain. Whistler Village is modern and fun, with plenty of activities to keep you busy off the slopes.
Where To Eat
For a quick and unhealthy (yet delicious!) lunch, stuff yourself with a hearty plate of Canadian poutine made of cheese curds, gravy, and fries at Zogs Dogs. Head to Merlins Bar & Grill at the base of Blackcomb for the best Après-ski experience in town. For a proper dinner, you can’t go wrong with the Bearfoot Bistro. Make sure to chug vodka in their ice room!
Hotels in Whistler can be expensive, but you might get lucky renting a condo with FlipKey like we did. High rollers tend to stay at the beautifulFairmont Hotel, and you’ll find ski bums on a budget at the HI Hostel a few minutes down the road.
Along with snowboarding in Whistler, we also went snowmobiling with The Adventure Group, dogsledding with Blackcomb Dog Sled, and took a scenic helicopter tour with Blackcomb Aviation.
What started 50 years ago as the centerpiece of an Olympic bid could now be considered this continent’s top ski resort. At 8,171 skiable acres, Whistler Blackcomb dwarfs second-place Vail and is consistently ranked as one of the world’s best, thanks in part to the mix of creative restaurants, luxe lodging, and a casual Canadian vibe.
The Five Need-to-Know Runs
Peak-to-Creek may be the most famous run in Canada, a thigh-burning 6.8 miles from the top of Whistler to the valley floor. Do it in under 12 min- utes and you’re a mountain god; under eight and you could probably win the next mayoral election.
The double-black-diamond Spanky’s Ladder is beloved by serious skiers. It has chutes to drop into, then bowls to cruise down—but you’ll have to click out of your skis and make a short hike to get to it. And be sure to name-check it as just “Spanky’s.”
The six-person chairs on the year-old Harmony Express deliver 3,600 skiers per hour up to terrain that the entire family can ski: Burnt Stew (green), Harmony Piste (blue), and Boomer Bowl (black).
Après-Ski Cheat Sheet
Where the local tribes do happy hour—and how to join them.
The Posh Option: After the Four Seasons Resort & Residences’ staff stores your skis, head to Sidecut Modern Steak & Bar. Onyx-paneled columns and a fireplace sheathed in a mosaic let you know this isn’t a pitcher-of-beer-and-hot-wings joint. Settle in and order a glass of local Meritage.
Rowdy Roundtables: Noisy doesn’t come close to describing the Garibaldi Lift Co.’s invariably packed room (referred to simply as the GLC). The big tables attract large groups of skiers trading exaggerated stories of hip-deep snow—often around a plate of poutine (fries with curds and gravy).
The Cool Club: Opened five years ago, the Ketel One Ice Room at Bearfoot Bistro is now a carved-in-ice institution for high rollers—and the coldest vodka-tasting room in the world, at -25 degrees. Throw on a complimentary Canada Goose parka and toss back a shot or two for warmth.
Day-Tripper’s Den: Its location at the base of the Creekside Gondola—the first mountain access if you’re driving from Vancouver—makes Dusty’s Bar & BBQ the it-spot for brief visits. Choose a version of the Caesar, a.k.a. a Canadian Bloody Mary. On a sunny weekend, arrive by 2:30 for a patio seat.
Art at Altitude
The debut of a contemporary museum is a tipping point for Whistler’s cultural scene.
It’s true that ski-resort art galleries tend to run heavy on timberwolf canvases and tree-trunk carvings. But in early 2016, the Audain Art Museum, a temple to the art of British Columbia, will open in a 56,000-square-foot Modernist tree house designed by Vancouver’s acclaimed Patkau Architects. Most of the gallery’s 200-plus works— which range from 19th-century First Nations masks to contemporary works by Jeff Wall, whose conceptual photographs will form the inaugural exhibit—are part of the private collection of Vancouver-based developer Michael Audain, who wanted to create a monument to the province’s artistic achievements. Just steps from the base of the Whistler Peak 2 Peak Gondola, it will also be a pleasant refuge on the rare bad snow day.
If First Nations art piques your interest, pay a visit to the nearby Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre. Housed in a soaring cedar-and-glass space, the institution beautifully tells the story of the area’s founding people through its interactive exhibits. Its Thunderbird Café serves food inspired by native cuisine.
The most noteworthy seasonal event is the Whistler Film Festival, held this year December 2–6. Though much smaller than, say, Sundance, it consistently punches above its weight in entry quality and celebrity attendance (Daniel Radcliffe and Kim Cattrall, for example). This winter, to mark its 15th anniversary, more than 80 films will be shown—including Ingrid Veninger’s He Hated Pigeons, a narrative with an improvised live score that will accompany the screening.
Where to Overnight Right
Ski butler or your own kitchen? The trade-offs are few in Whistler’s main areas.
When it comes to lodging, you’ll want to be in either Whistler Village, where you can access the bases of Blackcomb and Whistler mountains, or Creekside, a smaller, quieter village five miles south.
Whistler Village: The Fairmont Chateau Whistler has been the largest ski-in, ski-out property in North America since it arrived in 1989. Its grand façade channels the brand’s iconic Chateau Lake Louise and Banff Springs properties, and speaks to a classic vision of Canadiana. The location is the best in town: right in front of the Four Seasons at the Blackcomb base—close enough to walk to the main village but far enough to escape the late-night weekend revelry. Doubles from $253.
While Whistlerites proudly claim that this town ain’t Aspen (no Louis Vuitton stores or mink coats), everyone was secretly proud when the Four Seasons Resort & Residencesopened in 2004. The 273-room hotel is within walking distance of the Blackcomb lifts, has what many consider the best ski concierge on the mountain, and offers rooms that are haute-rustic but not precious. Doubles from $254.
Whistler Creekside: To avoid the hubbub of Whistler Village, book at the 77-room Nita Lake Lodge, on a tranquil lakeshore 10-minutes’ walk from the Creekside Gondola. The rooms are generously sized, and the services include in-house yoga classes and complimentary snowshoe loans. Doubles from $194.
When you’re traveling with kids, little can compare with extra space and a kitchen, which is why the swank condos at First Tracks Lodge are in demand. The one- and two-bedroom suites are done up in a mountain mélange of rough-hewn logs and stone fireplaces, and can top 1,400 square feet. The Creekside Gondola is steps away.Doubles from $348.
Grab it to Go
The town is sometimes known as “Whistralia” because it hosts so many Australian workers, and they’ve left a culinary mark with lift-friendly hand pies—savory fillings in a closed pastry shell. Get an early-morning Ned Kelly (ground beef, bacon, egg, and cheddar) from Peaked Pies for the ride up the gondola.
Purebread may be the best bakery in the province. Go sweet (drunken-apple blondies) or go savory (pesto-pine-nut “stud muffin”). To avoid the line like the locals do, head to the Function Junction outpost, five miles south of the crowded village location.
Great cooking in Whistler is happening at old standbys and recent arrivals alike.
Elegant dishes like elk tartare and foie gras parfait served with endive and cacao nibs, combined with a stunning mountain setting, have made Alta Bistro a standard-bearer of casual fine dining in just four years. Entrées $10–$39.
Sticking around for 34 years—in a resort area, no less—is a remarkable feat. And the inventiveness that put Araxi Restaurant & Oyster Bar on the map is as strong as ever—it just added Dungeness crab rolled in egg crêpe with yuzu gel to the menu. Entrées $29–$52.
The minimalist Basalt Wine & Salumeria, which opened this summer on the village’s main stroll, is the spot for a plate of killer charcuterie and a bottle of B.C. wine. Entrées $22–$36.
Bar Oso, the newest offering from the team behind Araxi, is a less formal (and less expensive) take on Spanish-influenced small plates that promises to be the toughest table to land this season. Tapas $3.50–$25.
With an average snowfall of 10 metres each season Whistler is among the most popular destinations in the world, whether for a week-long holiday or for those going for a season-long experience. Our insider David Stead gives us the lowdown on how to get the most out of your season…
I would never advise anyone against going to Whistler for any amount of time but I, among a strong crowd of likeminded ‘Whistler-ites’, would advocate doing a season there in a heartbeat. If you’re thinking about enjoying an entire winter in Whistler, here are my top tips.
SEASONAL ACCOMMODATION IN WHISTLER
Finding a place to live in Whistler varies in difficulty. Some people you speak to will tell you it was easy and the first place they tried they scored a two bed condo with en-suite bathrooms and a hot-tub to boot for five hundred dollars a month. These are the people who have been to Whistler before and have become best friends with the local who happens to be giving away his condo to keep it occupied. Or these are the people who are trying to make themselves feel better!
In order to secure decent accommodation independently, in fact in order to secure any accommodation, you need to be looking early. I mean really early. June is a good time to start looking. Come November everyone fresh from the southern hemisphere season starts heading over and there is a rat-race for the last remaining half decent reasonably priced property. You might be lucky and find someone with a spare room to rent out in their house because someone bailed on them at the last minute and they need the room filled. If you are reading this and November has come or even passed and you’re still short of accommodation do not give up hope.
If you’re looking for seasonsal accommodation in Whistler, and if you want everything organized for you from the other side of the world, so all you have to do is turn up with skis and some clothes, have a look at Nonstop’s selection of Whistler apartments. Booking here means you can get yourself organized from a different country with no hassle. When you get to resort everything is waiting for you in a nice big apartment, ready for you to hit the slopes the next day. The prices are fair, and the apartments relatively luxurious. It also means that there is no worry of turning up and not being able to find anything worth renting. So if you’re looking for an apartment in Whistler, take a look! Be aware that there are some scammers out there who will take advantage of the desperation to secure accommodation in resort, so be careful.
A disclaimer… I’ve spent all my seasons in Whistler and can’t get enough of it, but it’s critics say it’s a little like Disneyland which I won’t try and deny. It all depends on what you’re looking for. It’s no doubt true that spending a season in some of Canada’s other ski resorts would also be an awesome experience and might offer a bit more of a genuine Canadian experience, and less of the tourist traffic that Whistler gets. From what I’ve heard, if you want good nightlife like Whistler then Banff’s up there, and if you want steep and deep then Fernie, Red Mountain, Revelstoke and Kicking Horse have it all. It’s all personal preference.
With the ever increasing unpredictability of European snowfall accumulation it seems where the Tarentaise region is losing, the Coastal Range (the range of mountains Whistler lies in, contrary to popular belief it is not in the Rockies or even the Cascades) is winning!
Whistler Blackcomb groom more acreage than anywhere else in the entire of North America. With this as a statistic it is important to add that the acreage which remains un-groomed consists of some of the most incredible off piste skiing conditions you can experience without the need for a helicopter or snow-cat, though these are readily available to make the inaccessible accessible.
Canada is famous for its champagne powder and there are few places where this is more evident than Whistler itself. A major attraction of Whistler’s off piste is the multiple areas of off-piste skiing accessible to novice powder skiers providing a good platform to learn the basics of this sometimes seemingly impossible skill.
At the other end of the scale there is, of course, an un-ending amount of powder available to those wishing to challenge themselves, including the steepest run in North America which very sensibly has a warning post at the top to deter those who may have taken a ‘wrong turn’ or maybe simply to ask the question “Are you really sure you’re ready for what lies over this lip?!”
During a season in Whistler, if you’re lucky enough, one of the many self proclaimed locals will treat you to a ‘locals only’ tree run called Khyber’s Pass. A run which has, in fact, become so well known that it may well in time become known as merely an ‘experts only’ run. This is one of many tree runs which will challenge even the most experienced powder skiers. Again with the tree runs there is something for everyone, ‘Mums and Dads’ proves to be one of the more forgiving runs where the trees are slightly more sparsely dispersed and therefore a good way to get used to the ‘avoiding-the-solid-tree’ technique in your own time and not being thrown into the deep end where the usual result is at best a shattered confidence and at worst, well, we all know the potential severity of the other end of the scale.
Whistler Blackcomb have three parks available to everyone and a fourth XL park reserved only for those with a specific pass indicating they have signed the relevant insurance waivers. There is one park on Whistler Mountain that provides kickers and rails for beginners but equally for those wanting to push themselves towards graduating to the bigger park. For the real beginners it might be advisable to head over to Blackcomb to what’s known as the Terrain Garden. Here there are small jumps and ride-on rails to practice on and gain in ever important confidence. The other park on Blackcomb adjoining the XL is not as complete as the Whistler one but still has some good hits.
WHISTLER SOCIAL SCENE
Going out in Whistler is famous for being as lively as the riding during the day. Personally I went to ski, but that’s not a reflection on what’s available to those looking for a great time at night. Some people don’t even buy a lift pass and simply use Whistler as their home for having an amazing social life.
There are bars that encourage bar-top dancing like Merlins, as well as an Irish Pub to remind everyone of home regardless of which hemisphere you’re from, and the essential visit to Garfinkels. For a nightclub in the more traditional sense of the word Buffalo Bills is the place to head.
Having done seasons all over the world Whistler comes highly recommended. You will have the best few months of your life and come away desperate to go back. Do it, you’ll regret it if you don’t.
AVALANCHE AWARENESS AND PRO PATROL
This might be a good place to mention the brilliant service the Whistler Blackcomb Patrol provides. At any point during your season in Whistler you can sign up to take an avalanche awareness tour. The full day tour covers terrain evaluation, avalanche phenomenon, procedures that Whistler Blackcomb uses to keep people safe inside the ski area boundary, avalanche safety equipment, and rescue techniques. You must be able to ski/ride a blue run (intermediate run) comfortably to join the tours. As well as being a great idea to take one of these tours there is the added incentive of it being completely on the house, or mountain.
In Europe when/if you injure yourself or someone in your party has a fall and needs help off the mountain you will be asked to leave your skis or snowboard with the patroller until you or your insurance company has paid the price of the personal evacuation. This tends to be in the range of three to four hundred Euros. Not so in Whistler. It’s free to hurt yourself and it’s free to get a friendly Canadian to come and pick you up on his blood wagon. The treatment thereafter is anything but free but find me a ski resort in the northern hemisphere that offers medical treatment for free and I’ll ski naked for a week.
JOBS, VISAS AND SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBERS
So how are you going to fund a season in such a place as Whistler? There are thousands of jobs in Whistler. And not just at the beginning of the season, all the way through until May you’ll be able to get something whether its flipping burgers or filling somebody’s subway sandwich, you will get something if you need it.
First you need a valid Canadian work visa. Depending on your nationality there maybe certain rules and stipulations. Check out http://www.cic.gc.ca/iec-eic/ for more detail.
When you come through Vancouver airport you will stand in a usually agonizingly long queue to be issued your visa so give fair warning to anyone collecting you that the time your flight arrives is a long time short of the time you’ll be out the other side. Immigration has been known to make mistakes when printing the visas so it is imperative you check all the details before leaving the desk. Once you get out of the airport if you notice a mistake it is not simply a case of going back into the airport and asking them to correct it. Oh no, nothing so easy. You will have to send it off to immigration services with a cheque. Yes, you read correctly, a cheque for $30 that you have to pay them for their own mistake. The whole process takes about eight weeks during which time of course you can’t work so make sure you check it before leaving the issuing officer.
Once the visa has been collected you can go to the Sinclair Building in Vancouver to get your Social Security number. You can’t work without one so you can either go while you’re still in Vancouver, head to Squamish to complete your application, or wait for the monthly outreach site in Whistler.
WORK AS AN SKI OR SNOWBOARD INSTRUCTOR
Spending a season working as an instructor has got to be up there with the best jobs in the world. Nonstop Ski & Snowboard are Canada’s most popular instructor course providers and run a range of ski instructor programs and snowboard instructor courses in some of Canada’s best resorts. Graduates of Nonstop’s programs have gone on to work in Whistler, as well as many other resorts around the world. Find out more about Nonstop’s ski and snowboard instructor training courses.
A lot of instructors are hired starting in May. Skype interviews are held once applications come in, around mid summer. Ski instructors are always needed at Level 1 and upwards. Snowboarders will need to have Level 2 and some teaching experience. Dual certified instructors are highly sought after. Information on the hiring fairs can be found at https://secure.whistlerblackcomb.com/ats/fairjobs.aspx.
The best job you can have in terms of money is a bar job. The tips are extraordinary and the people even more so. Don’t get your hopes up though. Being a barman/person in Whistler is for many people a career and therefore to secure such a job you either have to rely on nepotism or have a lot of bar experience. The other option is to start as a busser clearing glasses: they’ve been known to get some good tips, and then progress onto the bar. Or just go to the bars to drink and have a good time and work somewhere else.
A waiter, for example, gets paid terribly but tipped more than you can imagine. It is standard practice in Canada to tip at least 15%. Work in a fine dining restaurant and sell the table of two some good wine and they’re looking at a bill in excess $200. Even if their bill is less, the chance of your total for the night being less than $2,000 is slim to none. 15% on two grand? You do the maths! There are plenty of other decent jobs to pay the bills but usually with less absurd tipping involved.
Working in a rental shop seems to be popular among those who like to talk about skis or boards for a living. There are certainly a couple of stores, not mentioning any names, who will hire someone who can sell sand in a desert but knows not the first thing about the equipment he is selling. Beware of being put on skis that are too short for you!
WHISTLER EMPLOYMENT RESOURCE CENTRE (WERC)
When you arrive in Whistler if you have found you need a place to advertise yourself other than the pique or you want to print off your CV properly and use the internet for free go to the WERC, located above the Visitor Information Centre. Check them out here http://www.whistlerchamber.com/Employment-Resources/index.html.
So you’ll find a job no problem while doing a season in Whistler and if you turn up for the job fair at the very beginning of the season you will more than likely be able to hop on a job with the mountain and secure yourself some accommodation in staff housing too. Having a job for the mountain doesn’t mean you have to be an instructor, although there are plenty of these opportunities available for those with the right qualifications, it simply means working for the resort, which covers the restaurants and shops on and surrounding the mountain.
WHISTLER SEASON PASS
If you get a job with the mountain your lift pass will be provided free of charge. If the work is not with the mountain you will have to pay. However, there is a programme in place by many companies cooperating with Intrawest which will secure you a massively reduced rate on what’s called a Spirit Pass. All you have to do to secure yours is go along to a mountain safety and awareness seminar. They’re about three or four hours long and not boring by any means. You will learn about the history of Whistler and about mountain safety plus you can give your feedback on things you think are wrong with some of the services you have noticed. There is a genuine interest from them about what you have to say. It works out that by going to this seminar you are being paid in the region of $250 per hour, obviously not in cash but in the savings you make on your lift pass.
BANKING IN WHISTLER
You will more than likely to want to set up a bank account when you get to Whistler. The most advisable thing to do when choosing which of the many different banks you want to go with is to wait until you know what bank your employer banks with. The reason being obvious, when they present you with a cheque from, say, Scotiabank the money will clear a lot quicker into your account than if you’re with TD, for example.
In Canada you will be charged a certain amount every month to have an account with your bank. It seems strange if you’re not used to it but its important to know because along with this charge is a limit on the amount of transactions you can do every month. Also it is important to close your account at the end of the season otherwise when you go back to Canada you will have a lot of monthly charges on your account for all the time you were away.
“To the use and enjoyment of people of all colours, creeds and customs for all time.”– Lord Stanley, Governor General of Canada, in 1889, at the dedication of Stanley Park
Stanley Park, Vancouver’s first park, is an evergreen oasis of 400 hectares (1,000 acres) close to the heart of Vancouver’s downtown core. Its natural west coast atmosphere offering a back drop of majestic cedar, hemlock and fir trees embraces visitors and transports them to an environment rich in tranquility.
There is a great anount of wildlife in the park and its rich, outdoorsy features appeal to the naturalist, the plant lover or one who would do nothing more than relax in beautiful surroundings. The Lost Lagoon Nature House, operated by the Stanley Park Ecology Society, offers natural history information, guided walking tours and volunteer opportunities. Lost Lagoon is the haven for many varieties of birds including swans, ducks and Canada geese. The rushes and small islands in the lake make a natural nesting place for the various species that live here.
There are also many recreational facilities available in Stanley Park, including a pitch and putt golf course bordered by the spring-blooming Ted and Mary Greig Rhododendron Garden. At the Park’s heart is the formal Rose Garden surrounded by mass perennial plantings looking their very best from April through September. This famous landmark is a destination for weddings and wedding photos.
Water Street, Vancouver, BC
For more info, please visit
We’re sad to say that Storyeum has officially closed its doors and filed for bankruptcy. Having personally visited this wonderful place, it’s a sad day for Vancouver tourism.
Storyeum is unofficially, but claimed to be, Vancouver’s newest tourist attraction, located at 142 Water Street, Vancouver. Storyeum is located in the largely touristy area of the Gastown neighbourhood ofVancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Storyeum offers up a live, interactive, educational, re-creation of British Columbia’s history through special effects, actors and actresses in a 65 minute show.
The Storyeum concept was officially conceived in 2000 by its founder Danny Guillaume. To help fulfill his concept, Danny founded Historical Xperiences Inc. (HCI) to create and manage Storyeum. Storyeum officially opened in June of 2004.
The theatrical adventure predominantly takes place under the streets of Gastown. The entire show duration is approximatly 65 minutes. For full enjoyment and story telling continuity, Storyeum breaks from the traditional performance/play by making guests move from set to set. In total, there are 8 sets, including the 360 degree visual demonstrations in the two passenger lifts.
Storyeum is bigger than six NHL regulation size ice rinks, 104,000 square feet.
Storyeum is one of the biggest tourist attractions built since EXPO 86.
The passenger lifts used in the first and last set are one of the world’s biggest.
The passenger lifts are capable of transporting 200 people or 25,000 pounds.
Storyeum’s replica locomotive in Set #7 is an exact replica of the Canadian Pacific Railway Locomotive #374, the first to pull passenger cars across Canada.
Storyeum initially was a $22 million CAD private investment project and was built in 6 months.
Enjoy the best of Vancouver, British Columbia, in our classic turn-of-the-century trolleys. Visit major attractions, famous parks and gardens, shopping areas and fine restaurants.
Tour at your own pace! Take the entire tour in 2 hours or get off at any of our stops to visit attractions, shop or dine. Then reboard another Trolley to continue your tour.
Daily Tours and Costs:
Adult $30. Child (4-12) $15. (CDN) Reservations are not necessary. Tickets can be purchased from our guides or from the driver when you board. Payment by cash, travellers cheque, visa, mastercard, amex or debit card(Canadian or American funds).
Location & Times:
Tours start in Gastown at Stop #1 at 9:00 am and leave every 30 minutes thereafter.
Last tour leaves Gastown (Stop #1) at 4:00 pm and arrives
The Port of Vancouver is homeport for the Vancouver-Alaska cruise, one of the world’s most popular cruises. Annually from May to September more than 1,000,000 passengers, on more than 300 cruise ship sailings, pass through the Port of Vancouver’s Canada Place, and Ballantyne cruise ship facilities.
All major cruise ship lines are represented in Vancouver, such as: Princess Cruise Lines, Silversea Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Holland America Line, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Regent/Radisson Cruises, Carnival Cruise Lines and more.
Are you planning a luxurious Alaskan cruise to or from Vancouver? Are you looking for a cruise to Hawaii? Cruises from Vancouver are world-renowned for their elegance, beauty and fun. Please feel free to browse the options below as you search for your next ocean adventure!
Vancouver International Airport 3211 Grant McConachie Way
Richmond, B.C. V7B 1Y7
A world leader in international air travel, Vancouver International Airport is located about 15 kilometres driving distance from downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada on Sea Island in Richmond. It is the second busiest airport in Canada, with non-stop flights daily to Asia, Europe, the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean, and other airports within Canada. In 2004, 15.7 million passengers went through the airport, and in 2005 it served over 16 million.
Passengers travelling through YVR are no longer required to pay a separate Airport Improvement Fee; it now is included in the price of a ticket.
Vancouver International Airport is one of eight Canadian Airports that have U.S. border preclearance facilities.
Vancouver International Airport has three terminals: The domestic terminal, which was constructed in 1968 and recently given a top-to-bottom renovation; the International Terminal, which was newly constructed in the early 1990s, and the South Terminal, which is a portion of the original terminal that is still in use. The International and Domestic terminals can effectively be considered to be one building divided into two sections, while the South terminal is located in a remote part of the airport. The South Terminal serves regional airlines which fly mostly within British Columbia.