An Unexpected Favourite: Whistler, Canada

A quick stop in summer-time Whistler

Before we went on our most recent trip to Canada, many people told us that Whistler wasn’t as popular or beautiful as Banff and therefore we probably shouldn’t spend as long there, if we visited it at all. Seeing as we haven’t been before, we decided to build in a day’s stay at the little ski resort on our way through to our next big stop.

The journey from Vancouver was stunning, at every curve of the road there was something to see. Deep blue lakes with imposing mountings rising upwards to transform into snow-dusted peaks. If this was scenery that people thought we could miss, then they were missing the point!

Arriving at Whistler was a really nice surprise – the little complex is really well built, hiding amongst the scenery without impacting on the surrounding landscape. We were staying at Pan Pacific Whistler Mountain which was absolutely stunning – all wooden panelling and log fires!

The immediate area around the hotel was paved to create a meandering, circular complex, full of restaurants and shops. Although it was quite commercial (it’s going to be, the whole place is designed as a ski resort), it managed to be so well designed that you almost didn’t mind. A stream cut through the centre of the stone walkway, which broke up the run of shops and ensured that the natural draw of the mountain wasn’t forgotten.

We went in the summer, so there was no skiing on the mountain, however, that didn’t mean that it was quiet. In fact, the place was bustling, with biking and dirt trails replacing the snow and ski boots.

As we were only there for a short stay (just the one night), we went in search of a short trundle to see what Whistler had to offer. It was quite late in the afternoon and so we chose to head off down towards Lost Lake, a stunning lake in the middle of Lost Lake Park and only a short walk from the hotel.

Within minutes of leaving the village complex, the trees closed in, hugging the edge of the woodland trail. It was a beautiful walk, initially requiring us to cross over a roaring stream which was captivating to watch. We made sure to create noise and check our surroundings frequently as we were the only ones on the path and we didn’t want to unintentionally creep up on an unsuspecting bear! Being bitten alive by all of the mosquitoes helped to keep us shouting!

The lake itself was beautiful. The surrounding mountains created an imposing backdrop to the calm waters. What we hadn’t expected was the beach and grassy areas surrounding the lake. As it was summer, there were people playing ball games and chilling out on the sand. Its easy to imagine a very different picture in the winter when the lake freezes over and the beach is covered in snow! It would be nice to see it in winter to compare our experiences.

Leaving Vancouver, the people we shared our route with told us to expect places to get more commercial and expensive, the closer we got to Whistler, Jasper and Banff. This felt like almost counter-intuitive advice, given that we were heading away from the big cities and towards mountains and national parks. It did hold to be true, however, which was somewhat disappointing – we like our mountains and lakes to stay rural, not to be encompassed by a shopping street! That being said, Whistler integrated the shopping areas and natural beauty well. The design of the village was well thought out to ensure that the sight of the mountains towering across the skyline wasn’t lost.

Although we loved Whistler, it was still easily one of the most expensive places that we stayed on our trip. This was partly because we’d left it fairly late to book accommodation, but also because Whistler is a fairly expensive place generally. Obviously, if you are heading there in the winter to ski, some of the cost is unavoidable. If you aren’t bothered about skiing, consider visiting in the summer instead. Although it’s not classed as ‘off peak’, there are some better deals on hotels and with a great number of trails to explore, there are lots of cheap (or free!) things to do!

Did you find Whistler expensive or cheap? What are your tips for easing the costs when staying at this location? Tell us in the comments.