Just wanted to set the record straight having read a few slightly negative reviews. My family and I (2 adults, 4 teens) will be heading to Whistler for February Half Term 09 for our 4th visit in as many years.
WHISTLER IS FANTASTIC!
As a teen I lived in Switzerland in Wengen and from the age of 10 have skied most resorts in Europe ranging from sedate Austrian villages, Les Trois Vallees (6 times to Val D'Isere) to the might of Zermatt this year. I've also had the pleasure of skiing a few North American resorts including Tahoe and Aspen (Snowmass, Ajax, Highlands etc). Whistler is just streets ahead for so many reasons. The list of positives in a minute but let's get the few negatives out of the way:-
YES, it's a long flight from the UK (9+ hrs from Heathrow).
YES, the drive up from YVR can be long but what a view if you get to drive up during the day
YES, there are a few too many snowboarders for my liking (traditional old fashioned skier!).
Now the positives:-
1) CHOICE: The sheer size of the mountains is breathtaking - everytime I take a gondola up for the first run of my holiday the view (assuming no cloud) takes me to another world and brings tears to my eyes. The range of runs on both mountains and the different terrain is brilliant and whether there is fresh powder or it's not snowed in a week the overnight crew keep everything in tiptop condition. The sheer amount of snow that Whistler gets each year gives it a unique situation and even if you find a slightly icy run one moment you can bet there are some other runs pretty close by that are perfect - its just a matter of knowing where to look (see 3).
2) SMILES: The resort staff and even other visitors are so friendly and I love the gossip that often gets written on the weather status boards at the bottom of a chairlift! I love the sniffle stations and the smiles of the lift staff put me in the best mood for the day. Smiles are infectious and the numerous 'have a nice day' comments are meant everytime they are said! You may even have an encouraging shout from an overhead chairlift 'nice carving Pinkboot Girl' was my favourite last year!
3) SPACE: It can be a little congested first thing but the huge range of runs means that you can have certain parts of the mountains to yourself if you know where to head (I'd recommend hiring an instructor for a day or two for a private lesson - so worth the money for the secrets they unlock!). Due to UK school holiday restrictions we are limited to travelling at peak times but I've never had an even slightly busy day in Whistler that compares to the hideous sardine tins of some French resorts where you get barged and sworn at by the locals for merely queueing and spend more time trying to get in an overpacked, smelly gondola than you do actually on the slopes!
4) ACOMMODATION: Huge choice of accommodation ranging from 1 bed studios to luxury 7 bed golf course homes. We've stayed at a mix of accommodation from the Fairmont Chateau Whistler (the nicest staff and attitude of any hotel) through to a self catering condo in a complex - again with such friendly staff. Lots of great websites but cheapest deals are to book direct with the owner - just a google search away.
5) FOOD: Food in Whistler is fantastic although better off the mountain than on - this is not the place for 3 hour boozy lunches like Zermatt but then again I'd rather not be off the snow or pay Zermatt prices again (€300 for 4 for lunch - arrgh!)
For evening choice you are in seventh heaven and the range makes choosing a long process. My cheapest favourites are curly fries and spicy chicken wings at Merlins at the bottom of Blackcomb after the last run of they day - just a little refresher before hitting the hot tub!
OK so the £ is not getting you as much as it used to for the CAD$$$'s but the whole experience just outweighs the cost element if you can stretch to it. Whistler is an experience not to be missed for any enthusiastic British skier. Do try and do 10 days - a week can just be a little short for such a long trip. Kids are most welcome and its a joy to see the lines of little ones coming down the mountain - you may even be asked by an instructor to help take a little one up a chair lift! You can do Whistler cheaply - book via a discount deal website that will give you a joint discount for booking both accommodation and flight together - whistlerblackcomb.com and allura.com offer this.
Have fun and hope to pass you smiling your way down a Whistler run soon!