Whistler Halal Travel Guide
Whistler is near Vancouver in British Columbia. Boasting the largest ski area in North America, Whistler is a popular winter skiing and outdoor sports destination. The official name for the municipality is the Resort Municipality of Whistler.
Before the skiers and snowboarders came, Whistler was a logging town called Alta Lake. The area was known for its snow and a group of investors hatched a plan to build a ski resort in the hopes of attracting the 1968 Winter Olympics. The Olympic dream didn’t come through immediately, but the first ski resort opened in what is now the Creekside area in 1967 and a second resort opened on Blackcomb mountain in 1980. Intrawest, the then-owner of Blackcomb Mountain, bought out Whistler Mountain in 1997 and merged the operations as a single ski area.
Whistler got its Olympic wishes in 2010, as it hosted most of the ski and sliding events for the 2010 Winter Olympics and all of the skiing events for 2010 Winter Paralympics.
Not surprisingly for a ski resort, Whistler gets its fair share of snow and cold climate. Winter temperatures average about 0°C during the day and -6°C overnight in the village with snow typically on the ground from December into April. Summer days can be quite warm, with temperatures reaching the high Celsius 20s, but nights tend to be cool. As with the rest of the Lower Mainland, there is significantly more precipitation from November through April than other times of the year.
Whistler is connected to the rest of British Columbia by the Sea To Sky Highway (Highway 99), a beautiful but windy and, at times narrow, road. The highway was significantly upgraded and widened prior to the 2010 Winter Olympics and is now much safer compared to the past, when it had a slightly dangerous reputation, but care should still be taken when driving, especially in winter conditions. The section along Howe Sound between Vancouver and Squamish is probably one of the most scenic routes to be found anywhere. Typical driving time from Vancouver is about 2-2.5 hours. There are a number of rideshare sites available where you can find people to share the journey and costs. If you have time go back the long way to Vancouver by the Dufffey Lake Road through Lillooet & Fraser Canyon: Fantastic Alpine Lakes the small “Marble Canyon”, Semi-Arid Lillooet – long needle pines & sage brush: an extension of the Sonorian Desert, and the down the Fraser River back to the Lower Mainland and Vancouver’s west coast marine Rain Forest.
- Pacific Coach Lines, toll-free: +1-888-403-4727. Runs direct from airport to Whistler with their YVR – Whistler SkyLynx service. Will drop off at your Whistler lodging. Includes Wi-Fi and washroom. Whistler Village: $59 one-way/$108 round trip (adult); Whistler Property: $66.50 one-way/$123 round trip (adult). Half price for children. Discount for local residents..
- Snowbus. Provides Wi-Fi and protein bar en route. Two departures per day both directions. Stops in Vancouver: Airport (from Whistler only) Broadway & Maple, Comfort Inn Hotel, Canada Place, Hyatt Regency, Comfort Inn North Vancouver; Whistler: Whistler Creekside, Gateway Bus Loop. $24 one-way, $35 round trip.
- Perimeter Bus, , toll-free: +1 888 717-6606. Runs direct from the airport to Whistler with their YVR-Whistler Express service. 6 daily departures in winter. 5 daily departures at other times. From $79 one-way/$150 round trip (adult) depending on hotel location. $55/$110 from downtown Vancouver..
- Epic Rides. No-frills bus service but still offers free luggage and bike transports. Stops at Vancouver: Hyatt Regency Vancouver (year-round); UBC, Sheraton Wall Centre, Broadway & Granville (winter only). Whistler: Gateway Bus Loop $24 one way, $35 round trip per person.
- Party Bus, Squamish BC.
- Landsea Tours & Charters (Vancouver Tours), 680 Industrial Ave. Vancouver, BC, V6A 2P3 (Can also book them through many Whistler Hotels), , ✉ email@example.com.
Whistler Resort Cabs, +1 604-938-1515, provides taxi service from Vancouver and Vancouver International Airport to Whistler for $255.
Ridebooker operates shuttles between between Vancouver International Airport and Whistler.
If a number of people are travelling together it is possible to go by limo for $350-400 with room for between 6 and 10 people.
The nearest large airport is Vancouver International Airport . There are bus and limousine companies that provide direct shuttle service from the airport to Whistler. Tickets for Snowbus (Tourism BC Visitor Centre) and Pacific Coach Lines (SkyLynx counter) can be purchased in the arrivals hall. Car rental is also available at the airport (in winter, always request snow tires and inspect to confirm they were installed).
Visitors arriving from the United States may find flying domestically to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport or Bellingham International Airport and taking bus services across the border to be a cheaper option. The bus journey will be upwards of 5 hours. Quick Shuttle offers bus services.
Whistler does have two small air facilities — a heliport and a seaplane base. They’re mainly used for sightseeing but do have a few regional chartered flights.
- Whistler/Green Lake Aerodrome, 8069 Nicklaus N Blvd (at Nicklaus North on the South end of Green Lake). Harbour Air provides sea plane flights to Vancouver and Victoria.
- Whistler Heliport, 9940-9990 Heliport Road. Helijet provides service between Whistler and Vancouver.
Pemberton, 45 minutes north of Whistler, also has a small (international) airport with charters service.
The town of Whistler sprawls out around the valley, but the heart of the Whistler experience focuses on the European-style villages built around the base of the gondolas. Most of the accommodation, restaurants, bars, shops and the Blackcomb and Whistler gondolas are in Whistler Village and the Upper Village, at the foot of Whistler and Blackcomb. Village North (Blackcomb Village), built around the old base of Blackcomb, is smaller but still has a number of restaurants and hotels. Whistler Creekside is built around the original gondola on the south side of Whistler Mountain.
The easiest way to get around most of Whistler is by foot. Whistler Village and the Upper Village are mostly pedestrian walkways and small enough that you can walk anywhere. A short trail (5-10 minutes) links it with Village North and there is also an extensive system of trails that links Whistler Village with many of the parks, golf courses and beaches in other parts of the valley. Cars are best used if you’re trying to reach some of the outlying areas. If you do use a car, the main road through town is Highway 99.
Operated by BC Transit, the Whistler Transit System, +1 604 932-4020, is Whistler’s public transit system and is considered very good for a city of its size. It runs regularly from 5:30AM to 3AM all year. Commuter services are also offered to Pemberton and Squamish. Flat fares are $2.50 for all, or a day pass for $7. There are three routes which are free services: route 4 (winter), route 5 (year-round) and route 8 (summer). A book of ten adult tickets can be purchased for $22.50, or $18 for seniors over 65 and students up to grade 12, from the visitor Centre and other authorized outlets. A transfer is available on request from the driver for connecting buses.
In the summer months there are many bike rental outfits. A valley trail connects 99% of all areas within and around Whistler. This is a paved 2- lane trail system that is very pleasant and fast to get around on. More advanced trails head north to Pemberton and south to Squamish for those who may be more adventurous.
- Whistler Taxi +1 604-932-3333
- Whistler Resort Cabs +1 604-938-1515
- Take in the view from the top of the mountain. The Whistler and Blackcomb Gondolas run daily almost year-round (they are closed for maintenance during October-early November). The views from the top are quite spectacular. Sightseeing tickets cost $52.45.
- Brandywine Falls Provincial Park, Highway 99 (11km (7 miles) south of Whistler). A 70m waterfall and subsequent canyon along Brandywine Creek. From the parking lot, it is a 10-15 minute walk along a good trail to the viewing platform. Unfortunately this is not accessible by public transport.
- Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre, 4584 Blackcomb Way, Whistler, British Columbia, toll-free: +1 866 441 7522. 9:30AM–5:00PM, Mon–Sun. Showcases the art, history and culture of the Squamish and Lil’wat First Nations $18.00 (adults); $13.50 (post-secondary students); $5.00 (children aged 6–12 years and students aged 13–18); $42.00 (family of two adults and two children).
- Whistler Museum, 4333 Main St, Whistler, BC (Adjacent to Whistler Public Library). Shows the wildlife, history and development of Whistler. Also showcases the advancement of skiing equipment, Olympic bids, the Olympic torch, Olympic memorabilia and the Olympic movement. Free entry, donations are encouraged..
If skiing or boarding is your thing, it’s hard to be disappointed with Whistler-Blackcomb, 1-800-766-0449 (toll-free) or +1 604-904-8134. With 37 lifts servicing over 200 runs on two mountains and a vertical drop of over 1,500 meters (5,000 feet), Whistler-Blackcomb is the largest ski resort in North America and consistently ranks as one of the top three ski destinations in North America. The variety of terrain is huge — ranging from beginner areas to chutes and trees and groomed cruising runs to alpine bowls heaped with powder after a fresh snow fall — so there should be something to suit everyone. On the freestyle side of things, it has four terrain parks, a snow cross track and a superpipe.
If you are staying in Whistler Village or are parked in the day lots, the closest access point for both mountains is the two gondolas from Skiers Plaza in Whistler Village. The ride up takes 20-25 minutes and lineups can be long during the morning. Whistler Creekside has a gondola that accesses the southwest side of Whistler Mountain. This is a long walk from the Village so it is only useful if you are staying in the Creekside area or have a car. Village North has a couple of lifts that access Blackcomb Mountain and a beginners area. The gondolas start operation at 8:30AM and stop between 3PM and 4PM, depending on the time of the year. Snow conditions are available from the Snow Phone at +1-800-766-0449.
Both mountains open the fourth weekend of November and the main season runs until late April. Conditions permitting, the resort will keep one of the mountains open until early June for spring skiing. An adult lift ticket costs $89 at peak times of the year (typically over Christmas and during March), with slightly cheaper rates at other times. Spring skiing tickets are cheaper at $47. Lift tickets are also available at the 7-Eleven convenience store in Squamish (on the drive up from Vancouver), where they are sold at a small discount.
The Blackcomb Glacier opens for a few hours a day from mid-June to early August, but there are only a few runs as most of it is used by summer ski and snowboard camps.
- Backcountry skiing and cross country skiing are popular in Whistler as well. There is cross country skiing around Lost Lake, including night skiing if the conditions are right, and Backcountry Skiing throughout the valley, particularly off of the tops of Whistler and Blackcomb. The Callaghan Valley is just south of Whistler (turn left before Function Junction) and will host the Nordic Skiing events for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Callaghan Country hosts guided ski touring, snow shoeing, and cross country skiing tours in this region. Heliskiing is an expensive but worthwhile endeavour if you crave making tracks where few others do. Several operators make Whistler’s miles of backcountry terrain available to visitors.
- Whistler Mountain Bike Park, access from Skiers Plaza, , toll-free: +1-866-218-9690. 10AM – 5PM daily mid-May to mid-Oct. Open until 8PM during summer. During summer, the skiing paradise turns into a biker’s paradise with a handful of lifts carrying bikers and bikes up the mountain. There are over 50 runs and 4,900 feet of vertical catering to all skill levels. Tracks include single trails and fast race tracks with spectacular jumps and some Northshore elements have been built. Bikes can be rented at the base of the Whistler gondola. Lift tickets regularly $51, $44 early season.
- Lost Lake Park, turn-off near the end of Blackcomb Way. Lost Lake is a great place to relax in the summer and is a popular spot with the locals. There’s a beach, the water is warmer than the other lakes in the valley and there are miles of trails for walking or cycling. It’s also a popular spot for cross-country skiing in the winter.
- Golf is a popular activity in Whistler and it has a driving range & 3 championship caliber courses, & two more amazing courses under Mount Currie in nearby Pemberton.
- Nicklaus North, 8080 Nicklaus North Blvd, toll-free: +1-800-938-9898.
- Chateau Whistler, 4612 Blackcomb Way, toll-free: +1-877-938-2092, fax: +1 604 938-0368.
- Whistler Golf Club, 4001 Whistler Way, toll-free: +1-800-376-1777.
- There are a number of hiking trails in and around Whistler. For the casual walker looking for a pleasant walk through an ancient grove of cedar trees, Cougar Mountain provides an easy hour loop. More aggressive day hikers might head to Brandywine Meadows, a six-hour trip up much steeper terrain. And multi-day backpackers also have a variety of options including the Helm Creek trail to Garibaldi Lake and the Black Tusk. Of course, the ski lifts and gondolas of Whistler Blackcomb operate in the summer to offer hikers a relaxing short cut into back country.
- Whistler also offers some excellent sport and trad/gear rock climbing. Within the city limits there are several small, single pitch crags collectively known as Nordic Rock. The area offers 23 vertical routes, most of them sport, up to 20m long ranging in difficulty from 5.8 – 5.13a (French: 5 – 7c+). For more information on the routes in Whistler and area, check out any of the quality guide books describing the climbing in the Sea to Sky corridor.
- There are a number of companies that specialize in outdoor adventure travel such as whitewater rafting, fly fishing, ATV (all terrain vehicle) tours, snowmobiling, dog sledding and many other types of activities. Depending on your particular tastes, some or all of these can be extremely entertaining and are generally professionally run. Tour operators include:
- Valley Fishing Guides Ltd., +1-877-858-7688
- Canadian Outback, +1-800-565-8735
- Whistler Backcountry Adventure , +1-888-297-2222
- Activity Bookers
- Whistler Tennis Club. Rates start at $32/hour for indoor courts to $16/hour for outdoor courts.
- Bear Watching. Whistler is famous for its black bears, with up to 70 living around the village. They can be seen on the mountain bike park occasionally. For a better chance of viewing them, an organised bear tour is a good option. $189.
- Tamwood International College, 301 – 4204 Village Square. Tamwood International operates a number of carefully designed and managed English Language schools, Camp programs and Work Experience programs across Canada.
As is common to tourist-centric villages and towns, Whistler village has a number of shops. In general, the shopping is better and you’ll find more variety in nearby Vancouver, so if you’re on a budget, your money is likely to go farther in Vancouver. On the other hand, many of the stores in Whistler village are a pleasure to visit and the outdoor setting makes browsing (or shopping) more enjoyable than the large malls found in Vancouver.
- Whistler Ski Butlers Rental Delivery. Learn to ski or snowboard or re-visit the slopes of Whistler Blackcomb mountains again in style with this equipment rental service company.
- Skiis & Biikes, 126 – 4340 Lorimer Road (near Nesters). 8AM-8PM. Family Bike Shop. Another specialty is proper bike fitting.
Where to stay in Whistler
Pemberton is located 20 minutes north of Whistler and offers additional lodging options.
- Art’s Hostel, 2113 Nordic Dr. In “Nordic Estates”, about 4km from Whistler Village. Walking distance to a bus stop which goes to Whistler Village. Sanitary, but minimally maintained in proportion to the rock-bottom price. $15-25 for a dorm room.
- Hostelling International Whistler, 1035 Legacy Way (In the former Athlete’s Village Cheakamus Crossing. Across from Function Junction). Check-in: 4PM-10PM, check-out: 11AM. Great, clean, modern facility opened July 1st, 2010. Staff are super friendly and there are daily activities organized by the hostel. 20-30min from Whistler Village Regular and frequent bus service from 5AM to 3AM. Taxi fare from the village is around $20 (Request Van & split fare 6 ways:) ) Dorms start at $30, Private Rooms start at $85 + tax..
- Southside Lodge, 2102 Lake Placid Road (Highway 99 & Lake Placid Road). Well situated about 300m from the Creekside gondola station (Whistler Mountain) and commercial area. While shops and restaurants (and ski lifts) are within walking distance, the main village area is a 40 minute walk, however the area is served by buses which come every 15 minutes (high season), or 30 minutes (low season). If staying at this hostel be sure to eat at the Southside Diner, which occupies the ground floor and is one of the very few remaining establishments from the pre-Intrawest Whistler era. $30-$40 for a dorm room, $80 for private room.
- Delta Whistler Village Suites, 4308 Main St, , toll-free: +1-888-299-3987. Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 11AM. The Delta offers 1 and 2 bedroom suites with full kitchen and laundry facilities as standard. $229 and up in peak season.
- Mountainside Lodge, 4417 Sundial Pl, , toll-free: +1-877-607-3337. Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 11AM. A lodge with studios, lofts, and one-bedroom suites. Heated pool and tub. Onsite Italian restaurant Trattoria di Umberto. $139 and up during peak season. Parking is $16/night extra.
- Summit Lodge and Spa, 4359 Main St, toll-free: +1-888-913-8811. Boutique hotel with on-site spa. Has Deluxe and Executive studios and one bedroom suites. $200 and up in peak season.
- Whistler Peak Lodge, 4295 Blackcomb Way, , toll-free: +1-866-512-5273. Hotel is in the heart of Whistler Village. Studios and suites with kitchenettes. $200 and up in peak season.
- Sundial Boutique Hotel, 4340 Sundial Crescent, , toll-free: +1-800-661-2321. Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 11AM. The Sundial Boutique Hotel is located at the base of Whistler Mountain and is one of the closest properties to both Whistler and Blackcomb gondolas. There is a roof top hot tub and the hotel also has a selection of suites with private hot tubs. $300 and up in peak season.
- Four Seasons Resort Whistler, 4591 Blackcomb Way, , toll-free: +1-888-935-2460. Located in the Upper Village, walking distance to Blackcomb Wizard lift and to main village. $395 and up in high season.
- Hilton Whistler Resort & Spa, 4050 Whistler Way, , toll-free: +1-800-515-4050. Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 11AM. Located in Whistler Village, the Hilton is one long block from the Whistler gondola. $279 and up in high season.
- The Idylwood Inn, 8725 Idylwood Pl, , toll-free: +1-877-932-4582. Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 11AM. The Idylwood Inn is a large chalet split up into two and three bedroom units. $225-$250 for 2bdrm and $475-$545 for 3bdrm in peak season.
- Pan Pacific Whistler Hotel Mountainside, 4320 Sundial Cres, , toll-free: +1-888-905-9995. The Pan Pacific is located at the base of Whistler, a few steps from the Blackcomb gondola and right in the middle of the apres ski action. $300 and up in peak season.
- Coast Blackcomb Suites at Whistler (the former Residence Inn by Marriott – Whistler), 4899 Painted Cliff Road, , toll-free: +1-800-716-6199. Luxury all-suite lodging, slopeside on Blackcomb Mountain. Ski-in ski-out access. There are studio, one and two bedroom rooms. Has a large hot tub. $200 and up during peak season (Feb/Mar).
- Whistler Home Holidays, 3114 Tyrol Cres, , toll-free: +1-888-644-7444 (toll-free North America), +1 800 967 997 (toll-free HK), 0800 917 0478 (toll-free UK). Provider of 2 to 5 bedroom luxury Whistler home rentals. Can also book ski and golf packages. Prices start at $795 to $1,195.00/night for 4-5 BR condo..
- Whiski Jack Whistler Accommodation, 4319 Main St, , toll-free: +1-888-944-7545 ext 1. The best prices on the best quality properties. Studios to multi-bedroom units. Units in 17 of Whistler’s best buildings. Self-contained, fully-equipped units.
- Whistler Superior Properties, 4355 Northlands Blvd, , toll-free: +1-877-535-8282, fax: +1 604-932-3517. A good range of vacation rentals to suit the needs of all kinds of travellers. Prices vary based on date, from $99/night (Studio – shoulder season) to $1,500/night (3 – 4 bedroom luxury chalets – holiday winter season)..
- Lodging Ovations, 2036 London Ln, , toll-free: +1-800-320-0896, fax: +1 604-938-9699. A collection of luxury ski-in, ski-out properties at the base of the Whistler Creekside Gondola. Prices vary based on date and type, from $129 (one bedroom, shoulder season) to $1,500 (four bedroom luxury condo, holiday winter season).
- Acer Vacation Rentals, 4905 Spearhead Pl, , toll-free: +1-877-489-7669. Provides one, two, and 3 bedroom ski-in ski-out accommodation in Whistler for families. Prices start at $150 to $1,057.00/night for 1-3 BR condo..
Whistler is surprisingly short of organized places to camp. Most of those that exist are outside of town:
- Cal-Chek Forest Service Campground. Cool cable suspension bridge across the Cheakamus River.
Telecommunications in Whistler
- Cyber Web Internet Cafe, #6, 4340 Sundial Cres. Open daily, summer 9AM-10:30PM, winter 8AM-10PM. Internet access at terminals and wireless. Plus related services like CD burning, photocopying, and fax service. Free local calls on courtesy phone. Also various espresso and cold drinks, and snacks. Look for 10% discount cards on the reception table. Located right on skier’s plaza at the foot of both gondolas, next to Black’s Pub, tucked into the Sundial Hotel. Internet $10/hr.
- Whistler Public Library, 4329 Main St, , fax: +1 604-935-8434. M-Th 11AM-7PM, F-Su 11AM-5PM, closed holidays. Offers free internet access, in addition to the usual library services. Located on the opposite side of Village Gate Blvd from the plaza at the base of Whistler mountain.
- North on Highway 99 will take you to the village of Pemberton and the Pemberton Valley. Attractions include Nairn Falls, the alpine beauty of Joffre Lakes Provincial Park and a number of natural hot springs.
- Garibaldi Provincial Park, which has many hiking and backcountry camping opportunities, has access points north and south of town off Highway 99.
- Squamish, 45 minutes south of Whistler on Highway 99, has rock climbing, rafting/kayaking, eagle watching, a railway museum and many more outdoor activities.