A Perfect Whistler Day

By Laurie Cooper   Tourism Whistler

My heart is pounding, my thighs are burning. Trees are flying past me as I take great gulps of the crystal-cold mountain air. I'm staying right behind my Whistler-Blackcomb ski instructor, Louis, and I am skiing like I have never skied before. In theory, Louis is giving me a ski lesson. In reality, he is introducing me to a higher state of being.

My ski lesson with Louis is part of an amazing experience which I am calling "my ultimate Whistler day". My assignment is to design and experience the ideal day in the resort of Whistler. A tough job, but somebody's got to do it - and I'm sure glad it's me!

The day starts early. The phone rings at 6:45 a.m. and a cheery hotel operator tells me it's time to go skiing. I am staying right at the base of Whistler Mountain in the gorgeous and luxurious Westin Resort & Spa. The Westin was recently voted the #1 ski resort hotel in North America and the beds alone are worth the rating. The Westin "heavenly bed" has five pillows, crisp cotton sheets and a cozy down duvet. Very hard to climb out of!

The stars are still twinkling in the sky as I board the Whistler Gondola at 7:30 a.m. I am on my way to a "Fresh Tracks" breakfast at the top of the mountain. A sumptuous breakfast and an hour of skiing before the crowds arrive - what could be better? As the Gondola crests a rise, I and my sleepy fellow "Fresh Trackers" glimpse a rosy glow on the horizon. The glow gradually spreads to paint the mountaintops bright pink, against a clear blue sky. The start of a perfect Whistler day.

After a plentiful and delicious breakfast of fresh fruit, pancakes, eggs, bacon and hash-browns, I am ready to hit the slopes. The snow gods have been kind to us. There is a skiff of light fluffy snow on top of perfectly-groomed "corduroy". For the first few runs, I own the slopes, seeing hardly any other skiers as I carve perfect tracks down the hill.

Once the rest of the skiers start arriving, it is time to head for the trees and look for some real powder. This is where Louis comes in. Louis is what you might call a "ski instructor's ski instructor". He is a Level IV instructor - the highest level possible - and the president of the Canadian Ski Instructors' Alliance. Needless to say, he's pretty good.

After two hours of mind-expanding skiing with Louis, my legs are burning, my spirits are soaring and I am ready for lunch. The idea of enjoying fine dining in my ski boots is a bit odd at first, but I get used to it pretty quickly. "Christine's" is a top quality restaurant at the top of Blackcomb Mountain. The spectacular view of the surrounding mountains and the valley below is more than matched by the superb cuisine.

My fresh goat cheese and spinach salad is followed by a seafood pasta with smoked salmon, shrimp and scallops in a white wine sauce. It is all washed down with a lovely Australian Chardonnay and topped off with a frothy cappuccino and just a few tastes of chocolate fondue. My legs are a little sluggish after my feast, but I enjoy a few more cruisers before taking a long, leisurely run down to Whistler Village

If I had a little more time, I would stop in for an après-ski aperitif at the Dubh Linn Gate Pub. At the base of Blackcomb and Whistler Mountains, the patio of this authentic Irish pub is the perfect spot for soaking up a few rays of winter sun and watching the world go by. But I am on a tight schedule. Jimmy, the masseur, is waiting for me at the Avello Spa & Health Club at the Westin.

I start to relax as soon as I enter the Avello Spa. Soft shades of green, running water, flickering candles and soothing music set the tone, and Jimmy's strong fingers do the rest. Jimmy kneads and smoothes my tired muscles and just before I completely melt, he leads me to another room where I immerse myself in the Avello's Heavenly Milk Bath.

A special $30,000 bathtub with 144 underwater jets is filled with milk, essential oils and bath salts. This heavenly mixture completes the process which Jimmy began, and after 15 minutes I am so relaxed I can barely move. Still, I manage to crawl out of the tub for my pedicure. What could be more wonderful after a day in hard plastic ski boots!

With thoroughly relaxed muscles and freshly polished toenails, it is time to get ready for the evening. In a ski resort which offers some of the finest dining in North America, there is one restaurant which stands out above the others. "The Bearfoot Bistro" is not just about food - it is truly a fine dining "experience".

The evening starts off with a bang, or rather a pop. The sommelier, Brian, holds my hand and helps me "sabre" a bottle of champagne. This involves slicing off the top of the champagne bottle with a sword. It is not as difficult - or as dangerous - as it sounds, but it is certainly impressive.

Still shaking from my sabre experience, I sit down with my dining partner to enjoy one of the most amazing meals of my life. Five separate courses are served with a different wine accompanying each course. I start with seared bluefin tuna and seaweed salad, followed by Chilean sea bass with white chocolate lobster sauce.
After the Quebec foie gras with gnocchi and duck sauce, I cleanse my palate with some white wine sorbet, before plunging into the buffalo loin with Whistler huckleberry jus. I barely have room for the marbled chocolate caramel mousse, but I manage to squeeze it in.

As I walk back to the hotel, hand-in-hand with the love of my life, a few tiny snowflakes start to fall, sparkling in the twinkling lights of Whistler Village. I smile to myself. Looks like tomorrow will be another perfect Whistler day.

Did you know?
Here's what people are saying about Whistler:
- #1 Ski Area in North America (Skiing Magazine)
- #2 Ski Resort in the World (Daily Telegraph)
- #1 Dream Vacation Destination (Ski Magazine)
- 3 of the Top 10 Ski Resort Hotels in North America (Condé Nast)
And check out some of the facts and figures:
- Most skiable terrain (7,000+ acres) in North America
- Greatest lift-serviced vertical (5,280 feet) in North America
- Most slopeside accommodation in North America
- Longest ski season in Canada
- Most highly qualified (Level IV) ski instructors in North America

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