Bacon and fresh powder.
Those are the dreams of the skiers and riders at Whistler Blackcomb who get up early for a Fresh Tracks breakfast. After a buffet breakfast at the Roundhouse Lodge (located at the top of the Whistler Village Gondola) these lucky people get to take the first runs of the day.
Excitement and nerves.
These are the feelings shared by the thousands of people who come to Whistler Blackcomb for their once or twice a year mountain fix and head up for a Max4 Lesson. While their excitement remains, the nerves quickly disappear as the instructors divide the many into perfect small groups of four to give them what they need to tackle the mountain with greater speed, finesse, confidence… whatever their desire.
Hunger and satisfaction.
These are the sequential feelings of skiers and riders who tackle the hill all morning and then stop at one of the many restaurants on the mountain that serve absolutely delicious food. I've never had such great food at a ski resort before. A big thanks goes to executive chef, Wolfgang Sterr. You can follow Wolfgang on Twitter.
I was lucky enough to experience everything Whistler has to offer thanks to American Express and Whistler Blackcomb who sponsored my visit.
This resort makes for a fabulous weekend or full week getaway. To make the most of yours, here are my…
Whistler Blackcomb 32 Tips
Top Tips for Skiing or Riding at Whistler Blackcomb
- Ratings of the runs may be different than you're used to. If you're accustomed to skiing blue-square runs you may be quite content on the green-circle runs at Whistler Blackcomb. It was confirmed by a number of people that green just means that a run is easier than the rest of the mountain – it doesn't equate to greens in most other resorts in North America.
- Blackcomb is a bit more challenging than Whistler. There are more gentle green runs on Whistler mountain than Blackcomb where all the runs are a little more advanced. That said, there are black diamond runs on both mountains.
- Take a Max4 ski lesson. There are over 1,000 instructors at Whistler Blackcomb and they are fantastic. I had a great experience with Junko but I spoke to a number of people who said that the instructors here are the best they've had.
- Go for a Fresh Tracks Breakfast. This is a very special experience. Get up early and go up the mountain in the dark, have breakfast buffet in the Roundhouse then when they ring the brass bell, head out on the slopes. You'll be among the first on the mountain and get the best snow. You have to book a Fresh Tracks breakfast in advance.
- Store your rental skis for free. If you don't want to lug your skis around the village, you can store them in the public storage of Carleton Lodge which is very near the Whistler gondola. It's free for rentals and there's a fee for your own skis. There are also lockers you pay for there if you want to leave your boots or helmet there overnight as well.
- Check the weather and conditions. Once you go up the mountain you won't want to come back down because you're too warm or too cold. Check the weather and conditions on their app and make sure you dress for the weather before you go.
- Stay connected on the mountain. Whistler Blackcomb has free WiFi all over the mountain – great for instagramming photos, checking email, sharing on Facebook…
- Take the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola to experience both mountains. The gondola runs between the top of the gondolas on Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains. You can take your skis with you so this is a great way to get from one side of the resort to the other. If you want a special view, wait for one of the two silver cars that have a glass bottom.
- Talk to people on the lifts. Skiers/riders are very friendly. On my way up for the Fresh Tracks breakfast I met Mo from Texas and had breakfast with him. On my way up the Emerald Chair I met Jodi from England and took a run with him. It's easy to meet people as you ski.
- Eat lunch early or late. The restaurants can be quite busy on the mountain so plan to eat lunch before 11:30am or after 1pm to avoid the crowds.
- Have lunch at The Raven's Nest. Located at the foot of the red chair, this is a vegan restaurant that will satisfy meat lovers as well. The menu is extensive and healthy and, best of all, yummy. I had the Roasted Vegetable Chipotle Chili served with garlic bread and salad. It held me till dinner – with an après ski beer at the base of course.
- Enjoy the après ski scene. There are many places to have a drink on a patio or inside – I always choose the former if the temperature isn't much below freezing. The disk jockey at Merlin's in Blackcomb Village is exceptional.
- Take an après ski soak. The Delta Whistler has a wonderful outdoor pool and two outdoor hot tubs, all at temperatures to enjoy in the winter. A soak will relax your muscles for another day of skiing.
Additional Activities at Whistler Blackcomb
- Special events. From the Fire and Ice Show to the Winemaker Après series, there are often special events going on at Whistler Blackcomb. Check the Events Calendar so you don't miss out on anything.
- Lunch at the top. You can head up either mountain without skiing or snowboarding and eat at the full-service restaurants – Steeps (on Whistler) or Christine's (on Blackcomb) – or in a quick service restaurant.
- Spend the day in Scandinavia. The Scandinave Spa is a retreat away from noise, phones, cameras… anything that interferes with quiet and relaxation. Enjoy a massage and then relax in their 20,000 square foot outdoor spa that's tucked into a peaceful spruce and cedar forest on the edge of Lost Lake.
- Go PEAK 2 PEAK. Don't stop with just one gondola ride. Take the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola across to Blackcomb Mountain and then take an open air chairlift down Blackcomb Mountain. You'll end up a short 7-minute walk from the center of Whistler village.
- Go for a skate. There's a skating rink right in the village at the Whistler Olympic Plaza – a great activity for everyone. It's also a nighttime activity as it's open till 9pm at night.
- Walking, cross-country skiing, snow-shoeing… Get out into the fresh air and onto the trails which can be found all around Whistler Village. You'll earn your place in the après ski hot tub.
- Looking for an adrenaline rush of a different sort? The Whistler Sliding Centre offers the fastest bobsleigh run in the world. Totally safe and certainly exciting, this option is open to anyone. Book ahead of time. And, if you don't want to go on the bobsleigh, it's worth the trip to watch as they come down the run. I'll be writing a whole post on my bobsleigh experience soon.
- Swing from the trees year-round. Whistler Zipline Tours run year-round. There are four levels of this eco-adventure available so there's something for everyone.
- Take in a bit of culture. Spend a half day at the Squamish Lil'Wat Cultural Centre and learn about the two local first nations. It's not a just a look-and-see museum, there are also hands-on activities.
- Go shopping. Whistler village has many shops to entice you. From galleries to ski shops, from fashion to souvenirs, you can spend time browsing and buying in the village.
Top Tips for Planning Your Trip to Whistler Blackcomb
- Download the Whistler Blackcomb app. You’ll get real-time snow alerts/reports and weather forecasts, information on events and backcountry skiing, maps, food and drink information as well as tips and deals. You can also use the app to track your runs and look at your ski day online. Available on both iOS and Android.
- Check Amex Selects. Amex is the official card of Whistler Blackcomb and often has special deals on offer. When you book a MODE hotel room or MODE one bedroom suite at Delta Whistler Village Suites between February 1, 2015 and April 18, 2015 for stays between February 22, 2015 to April 19, 2015, you can receive 20% off the published rate per night. This deal is based on double occupancy (which means there may be additional charges for more than two adults – clearly this doesn't apply to solo travelers) and is exclusive of taxes. There's a 2-night minimum stay required on Fridays and Saturdays. To redeem the offer click here or call the Whistler Blackcomb call centre at 1-800-861-5920 and mention the offer and pay with your American Express® Card. They can also help book all of your other travel needs including transportation and activities.
- Buy your lift tickets online. Book your lift tickets in advance and online you'll save a minimum of $15 per for one day and more per day the more days you book.
- Book your equipment rentals in advance. Book your ski or snowboarding rentals online and save up to 20% off the walk-up rate. There are 13 rental locations around the village so they're easy to find.
- Packing. Don't forget… When packing there are few things I'm especially glad I packed:
- Goggles – they're much better than sunglasses, especially when it's snowing, which it was.
- Silk underlayer – I threw this in at the last minute and, as it turned out, it was quite warm and I never used my heavier thermal underlayer.
- Extra thermal socks – It's important to wear a fresh pair of socks every day.
- Gloves and mitts – the mitts are essential in really cold weather. The gloves are essential to go down the bobsleigh run.
- Sunscreen – you may not think of sunscreen in winter but it is just as important as in summer. In addition, high altitudes and the sun's reflection off the snow increase the chances of a sunburn.
- Book your transportation to Whistler Blackcomb in advance. Once you're at Whistler Blackcomb, you won't be needing a car. The free village shuttle or a $10 taxi will get you just about anywhere you want to go and most days, you won't want to go anywhere but up the mountain which is minutes from any point in the village. I took a coach from Vancouver airport and booked it through Ridebooker.com.
So there you have it – my Whistler Blackcomb 32 Tips.
Do you have any to add?
This trip and this post were sponsored by Amex Canada and Whistler Blackcomb but I can assure you that the opinions and enthusiasm are all my own.
Fresh Tracks Mountain Top Breakfast Tips from Whistler Blackcomb on Vimeo.