With North America‘s largest ski resort only a 90 minute ride away from downtown Vancouver in Canada, travellers are awarded the rare opportunity to experience two vacations in one.

Whistler mountain / Photo Credit: Toshi Kawano

Hit the slopes in Whistler

Whistler is home to Blackcomb, a vast ski field that covers a whopping 8100 acres of ground. With 200 runs, it’s nigh impossible to conquer every slope, let alone bore of them.  Because of the sheer scope, it’s best to invest in a 3 day pass at the very least to find your bearings. There are free tour guides who meet at 11.30 am each day. It’s worth taking advantage of these tours to experience the less populated trails and get insider tips on Whistler. Experienced backcountry skiers can take a course detailing the ins and outs of the terrain as well as teaching how to rescue a person trapped in an avalanche. For those who like nothing more than to start the day with a fresh breakfast, followed by some fresh pow, the fresh tracks pass will give you access to the slopes before anyone else, after you’ve wolfed down the breakfast buffet that is. The cost for this is $20 and it’s worth getting there early. If you want to try something a little different, you could brush up on the Jamaican accent you picked up from Cool Runnings and hit the bobsled track. The track is one of the remnants of the 2012 Winter Olympics and sleds reach around 125 MPH. If you’re feeling exceedingly brave (read: cocky) you could even try the skeleton. When your muscles can’t take no ‘mo, head to the patio and join your fellow riders for some après ski.

Photo via All Chalets

Living in a Gingerbread house

Beyond Blackcomb is the winter wonderland of Whistler village. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to live inside a gingerbread house, this might be the closest you’ll get. An arial shot is reminiscent of the Christmas village in Tim Burton’s A Nightmare before Christmas. There’s is a spirit of kindness in Whistler that gives credence to all you hear about Canadian hospitality. Everyone seems happy. It’s weird…but wonderful. There are a host of bars and restaurants to satisfy every taste. Whistler attracts a diverse demographic, and the nightlife reflects that. Expect rustic wood interiors with huge fireplaces, and indulge in a hot chocolate or hot cider. Garfinkel’s is the famous ‘party bar’ of the village while Dusty’s and Crystal lounge are popular for a après. If your bones are begging for some TLC, there are lots of pools and spa options to nurse you back to health. The hot outdoor pools in many of the hotels and chalets are the best way to wind down. And it’s even better when the snow starts falling. There’s also ice cold plunge pools which if nothing else, will make you appreciate a hot whiskey afterwards more than you ever could have imagined.

The heights of Downtown

The whistler express will take you straight to downtown Vancouver where you can convert your ski holiday into a city break in one of the coolest places in the world. Vancouver is known for its diversity. Go shopping on Robson Street where all the Van City fashionistas stroll the streets or hunt for vintage treasures in SoMa. Take a walk around the beautiful (and massive) Stanley Park. If you’re feeling romantic or lazy, you could take a horse-drawn carriage or just park out with a picnic. Vancouver has a vibrant art scene, and Catriona Jefferies gallery is known as the place to go to see globally recognised contemporary art. The bar scene in Downtown is alive with Irish bars and youthful hipsters. If you’re looking for a great place to eat, The blue water café and raw bar restaurant has a stellar reputation.

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