Just in time for Whistler Blackcomb’s spring season, here’s an insider interview with Brave Ski Mom Tara Laitinen.
Why Whistler Blackcomb?
Whistler is my home mountain, so without a doubt, I am completely biased.
Whistler is a big mountain with all of the skiing and bells and whistles that go with a high-end full service resort. If you are coming to Canada for a big mountain experience, this is the place.
Whistler is really easy to get around with kids. You have a choice of staying at three access points that make up the resort – Whistler Creekside (south), Whistler Village (access to Blackcomb and Whistler mountains) or Blackcomb (North) which is also called the Upper Village area, or the Benchlands. All three areas have Whistler ski schools that load kids from the base up.
What makes Whistler Blackcomb great for family skiing?
Great ski schools, designated family skiing areas on both mountains and huge accessibility made easy with the Peak 2 Peak gondola. Any kind of cuisine is available on hill. There are great family accommodation booking deals accessible on the Whistler Blackcomb.com site. If you book within particular periods, kids ski for free and get amazing deals on lessons.
Traffic is an issue, so the name of the game is to register your kids in ski school at the part of the resort you are staying in. The Whistler Blackcomb.com booking site will help get you into the school location closest to your accommodations. I cannot stress this enough.
Your “go-to” spots for food?
As a family we love Sushi Village and Earl’s and après at the Garibaldi Lift Company, the GLC in localese, or Dusty’s at Whistler Creekside. There is an excellent delivery service available from most restaurants and every form of cuisine is well represented.
Take advantage of babysitting services and treat yourself to a night out at Araxi’s or my all time personal favourite, the Trattoria di Umberto. For an unforgettable treat Nicklaus North golf club offers an amazing sleigh ride and fondue dinner or you can head up the mountain for a variety of fun family dining options.
Best places to stay?
We love renting condos in the Blackcomb Benchlands area through VRBO and the WhistlerBlackcomb site. My favourite family hotels in the village are the Westin, Delta and Pan Pacific Mountainside hotels. All three have pools.
The Westin has their own après room service menu, and the pool at the Pan Pacific Mountainside has its own unique view of Whistler Village après in all of its glory. If you want to go for it and break the bank, the Fairmont Chateau Whistler and Four Seasons cannot be beat for amenities and luxury. They go out of their way to accommodate kids and pets!
If it’s a house you want, there are endless sizes, ranging from a basic to giant luxury chalets complete with valet and catering.
What makes Whistler Blackcomb unique?
Whistler is a world-class resort with an Olympic legacy that is easily accessible from Vancouver International Airport. The skiing, amenities, atmosphere and people are world-class. You don’t have to acclimate to altitude and rarely do you find temperatures below -10°C (14° F) on the top of the hill.
These things make for a smoother family vacation that can accommodate all age groups and all interests. There are an unbelievable amount of entertainment opportunities apart from the skiing.
EVERYONE will find something that makes them happy.
Your best Whistler Blackcomb tips?
- If you need ski school, register at the location closest to where you will be staying (see above). They will do their best to give you a consistent instructor and match your kids’ needs to instructor personalities/skills.
- Both Whistler and Blackcomb mountains have secret locations that are trail map marked. Find them and enjoy a family adventure away from the main runs. We call the one on Blackcomb the “Castle in the Forest”.
- Snow tires are mandatory and you will be turned back if you try to proceed north of Squamish without them (private and rental cars).
- There is outdoor skating in the village and an excellent indoor family community recreation centre five minutes north of the village.
- Enjoy some good Canadian sugar options at Beaver Tails (in the village and on hill at Whistler Ski school), Rocky Mountain Chocolates and the Great Glass Elevator.
- Get some Canadian candies called SMARTIES and keep them in your pocket to lure tired children down the mountain. After a full day, my niece snowplowed from the top of Blackcomb and skied out at five years of age.
- There are endless grocery and liquor delivery (concierge) services, as well as a ski valet service that will come to you and set everyone up with gear.
- Diapers are available on both mountains in case you forget.
- Dusty’s at Whistler Creekside and the Garibaldi Lift Company in the village have family friendly après. Go early, because the atmosphere changes after 4:00 pm.
What’s your favorite thing about family skiing?
As always, it’s a beautiful place to be with the people you love most doing the thing we all love to do. It can be an exhausting logistical gong show, but it is so worth it.
The Brave Ski Mom Adds…
Thanks Tara! In addition to enjoying her home mountain with her family, Tara also shares that she met “the love of her life” at Whistler. It’s no wonder this is her favorite resort.
As for the rest of us, while we may not find true love on the chairlift, we can find a lot of fun and value at Whistler Blackcomb. Whistler Blackcomb is now part of Vail Resorts. Epic Pass and Epic Pass Local holders get five days at Whistler Blackcomb this season.
Epic Passes for next season are on sale now, with the best deals through April 9th. Get unlimited Whistler Blackcomb skiing with the full Epic Pass (which gets you unlimited access to all Vail Resorts mountains and limited access to 30 European resorts) or get 10 days at Whistler Blackcomb (some holiday blackouts) with the Epic Local pass.
Finally, closing dates for 2017 are April 23, 2017 for Whistler Mountain and the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola and May 22, 2017 for Blackcomb Mountain.
More British Columbia:
- An Insider’s Guide to Family Skiing at Silver Star Mountain Resort, January 19, 2017.
- Why Our Family Loves to Ski Big White, British Columbia, November 16, 2015.
- Heli Skiing…Falling…And Getting Up Again, January 15, 2014.
- Revelstoke Mountain Resort: For Families Who Live to Ski and More, March 3, 2014.
- British Columbia’s Family Paradise: Silver Star Mountain Resort, January 27, 2014.
- Why My Family Loves to Ski Whistler, British Columbia, November 14, 2012.
- Why My Family Loves to Ski Mount Washington, British Columbia, March 29, 2012.
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