British Columbia, Canada’s westernmost province, is often referred to as North American Switzerland. And the city of Vancouver competes year after year with Zurich for the title of the most livable city in the world (fortunately, no one but us claims our title of the rainiest city in the world, here we can rest easy on our laurels). I have been to Switzerland more than once, I have been living in British Columbia for almost ten years and I can say with knowledge that we are missing only a few nice details before Switzerland: cows with giant bells, for example. We have cows, of course. There are no bells. But Canadians compare favorably with the Swiss in innate benevolence and well-acquired tolerance. Here we are ahead of the rest.
Before I talk about the best hotels in the best ski resort in Western Canada, I will say a few words about how to get to this resort. The path is not close. But, if you decide on it, you will have the opportunity to look into the Pacific Ocean from the tops of the Rocky Mountains.
In winter, Vancouver has direct flights from London, Frankfurt and Amsterdam. Flight time is about nine hours. And from Vancouver to the ski resort of Whistler – two and a half hours by car along the freeway with the romantic name of Sea To Sky. The road is beautiful, besides, on the eve of the 2010 Winter Olympics, they worked hard on it, expanded and secured it.
All the same Olympiad contributed to the improvement, modernization (as well as some rise in price) of the cable car system. Mountains Whistler and Blackcomb were combined into a single ski area, since then – the largest in terms of total length of tracks in North America (we outdid the famous American Aspen).
Whistler Ski Village – a village for all ski villages: a well-groomed, well-styled alpine town, with multi-colored hotel houses, lively pedestrian streets, shops selling ski equipment, a large selection of restaurants and cafes. The ski lifts start right from the center of the village, so that the resort life boils around them, the ski crowd picturesquely mixes with the walking crowd and in the afternoon smoothly flows from the slopes directly to the bars.
For the winter holidays, centuries-old fir trees covered with snow are decorated with multi-colored light bulbs, and you simply cannot imagine a better New Year’s entourage. And around in all its splendor are the Rocky Mountains. Also snowy, of course. In my memory, there was only one problem with snow, during the 2010 Winter Olympics. Then, in February, magnolias bloomed in Vancouver. In normal years, the ski season lasts from November to May, but some slopes are open even in June-July.
And now let’s talk about where, with comfort and a certain elegance, to accommodate a skier who has flown over the oceans and continents and climbed so far to the West that, as the people of Vancouver say, after us – only the East.
The worthy representative of the Four Seasons family, who settled in the resort 7 years ago, is popular with the most discerning North American guests and the few Russian tourists so far. This popularity is well deserved. Firstly, Four Seasons Whistler is quite a Four Seasons by all the standards of a prestigious chain, moreover, it is freshly built. The rooms, by the standards of European ski hotels, are more than spacious; in addition to the “gentleman’s” five-star set of amenities, each room has a gas fireplace for comfort and mood. The interiors of the rooms are modern and solid, without minimalism and out-of-couture frills, but in full accordance with good taste.
For those who feel cramped in ordinary rooms, there are luxurious residences with two and three bedrooms, living rooms, dining rooms and a jacuzzi on outdoor terraces overlooking the snow-capped mountains. I will make a reservation that the price level by European standards for such a luxury is quite sane, even for the new year. The notorious Russian Christmas, in which any self-respecting European ski hotel fills up and indulges in the pleasure of doubling prices, does not cause us any commotion. It’s a regular season for Whistler, when you can count on special offers and gift nights at the hotel, if you’re lucky.
The main competitor (and closest neighbor) of Four Seasons Whistler is Fairmont Chateau Whistler, a representative of another fashionable chain, less known to Russians, but quite worthy of the attention of the most demanding travelers. Unlike the ultra-modern Four Seasons, the Fairmont is a traditional, classic style hotel. If you like modern design, then Fairmont Chateau Whistler may not be your hotel. Although many find it more comfortable. In addition, he has one big advantage: he is what is called ski-in / ski-out.
Four Seasons, strictly speaking, is not a ski-in/ski-out. Five minutes walk to the ski lift. But the Ski Concierge will make sure that you don’t have to walk in ski boots with skis on your shoulder. Really take care. They have it well organized.
In general, both in terms of service level and price level, these two hotels are very close. Both have large, beautiful grounds, a solid range of restaurants and bars, heated outdoor pools (which are open in winter, of course), spas and gyms, both just steps away from the center of the resort village. Choosing between them, you, in fact, choose between the strict and clear modern design of Four Seasons and the cozy classic interiors of Fairmont. Here, whoever likes it. And guaranteed snow is plentiful, the well-known goodwill of Canadians, and the splendor of the Rocky Mountains are weighty enough advantages to decide on a long-haul flight and the hassle of an entry visa. By the way, British Columbia is one of the few places in the world where you can ski, play golf and swim in the ocean in one day.
Read also about Fairmont Chateau Whistler here.
O Four Seasons Whistler is here.