Whistler is one of the few places that we truly enjoy visiting throughout the year. During the winter, the mountain is overrun by snowboarders and winter sports enthusiasts; while during the summer months, it’s occupied by hikers and mountain bikers. If none of those activities appeal to you, then you can always enjoy some great shopping and dining in the village.
We recently had the opportunity to spend 2 nights in beautiful Whistler courtesy of American Express. As the official card of Whistler, they have some great offers on for Cardmembers including accommodations at Amex First Tracks Lodge from just $129 per night.
On our first day, we rode the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola, the lift that connects Whistler and Blackcomb Mountain. The gondola is an iconic attraction of Whistler Blackcomb, and it happens to hold the record for the longest (4.4 kilometres) and highest (436 metres) continuous lift system in the world. As we’re used to riding it with our snowboards and gear in tow, this was the first time we experienced the lift in the summer. With its unobstructed panoramic view, one can really appreciate the majestic beauty of the mountain resort on this 11-minute ride.
We disembarked at the top of Blackcomb and had lunch at Christine’s Restaurant, which is located inside the Rendezvous Lodge. With incredible views of Whistler Village and surrounding mountain peaks, Christine’s offers full service dining for skiers, riders and sightseers alike. Enjoy comfort dishes prepared with fresh local ingredients inside or on their large patio. While we were eating, we even spotted a marmot perched on one of the rocks just outside our window. With great food and a picturesque landscape at your doorstep, you can’t ask for much more.
Left: Caesar Royale – Ketel One Vodka, Clamato, horseradish, spicy bean, olive, pickled pepper, Landjaeger sausage; glass of See Ya Later Rosé; Right: Pemberton Meadows Beet Salad – heirloom beets & purple carrots, grilled peaches. Berries & Lillooet honey vinaigrette, pecans and goat cheese.
Above: Organic burger – Pemberton beef, tomato, truffle aioli, pickles, arugula, avocado, aged cheddar cheese, herb bacon. Fresh baked pretzel bun served with hand cut fries with rosemary sea salt.
Left: West Coast Seafood Sampler: Cured salmon gravlax, sesame crusted Albacore tuna, smoked mackerel with candied fennel, poached Sockeye salmon with Béarnaise sauce, lemon pistou poached prawns; Right: Wild mushroom and mascarpone stuffed ravioli with a ribbon of zucchini, poached prawns, olives, cherry tomatoes.
After lunch, we opted to take the Solar Coaster Express and Wizard Express chair lifts back down to the village. The cool air was invigorating, the views were stunning, and we even passed by a black bear cub making its way up the mountain. Taking the chair lift provides a totally different experience than the gondola, so I highly recommend doing that if it’s nice out.
For dinner, we headed over to Rimrock Cafe, which is located in Creekside, just a short 5-minute car ride from the village. The dishes were very classic, the service was top-notch, and overall it was a very enjoyable dinner.
Left: Chef’s Creek oysters; Right: Rimrock trio: Ahi tuna seared in wasabi butter, wild spring salmon with lobster mashed potatoes, sablefish with almond ginger crust in a miso soy marinade. The photo only shows half the dish as it was portioned into 2 servings so we could share.
Above: Halibut Ceviche, with chili, lime, and coconut marinated seafood with corn chips
Left: Seared scallop and roasted pork belly with Ancho chili sauce, pickled shallots, cilantro oil, chicharron; Right: Sticky toffee pudding. This is a must order if you come here. Make sure you save room for this decadent dessert.
We retired for the night at First Tracks Lodge, a boutique hotel located in Whistler Creekside. It was actually nice staying outside of the hustle and bustle of the main village for a change, and even though it tends to be quieter down there, there are several great dining options in the immediate vicinity. It’s also worthwhile to note that it’s conveniently located right by the Creekside Express Gondola, in case you need a lift up the mountain.
If you’re looking for a full kitchen and space large enough to accommodate a small family or two couples, a 1 bedroom suite is ample room. If you’re planning a trip with a bigger group, they even have 4-bedroom suites available. Just check out the view you’d be waking up to.
— Dennis & May Pang (@Pangcouver) June 30, 2014
Amex Cardmembers can books stays at the Amex First Tracks Lodge from $129 per night until October 31, 2014. Click here for booking information and details on offer rates.
After a peaceful night’s sleep, we headed out to Elements Urban Tapas for brunch the next morning. Elements has been a popular casual upscale restaurant, serving Whistler residents and visitors since 2005.
Left: Montreal smoked meat benedict with Dijon hollandaise. I really love Montreal smoked meat, so I really enjoyed this benny; Right: Healthy Hash: Two free run eggs mixed with cream & a blend of, fresh herbs, served with signature potato tartlet with chive sour cream, and artisan bread.
After brunch, we made our way to our massage appointment at the Scandinave Spa, which is located along the edge of Lost Lake. A short trail from the parking lot leads you to the entrance of the spa, which is set in a serene and natural 3-acre sanctuary. We’d been to a few spas in BC with outdoor bath pools, but none that stand up to the views that are offered here.
The spa offers a rejuvenating Scandinavian baths experience plus Swedish, Sports, Hot Stone, and Thai Yoga massages. We opted for a 60-minute couples Swedish massage which soothed our tense muscles and helped prepare us for an afternoon of relaxation. After that, we enjoyed a eucalyptus steam bath, soaked in their various Scandinavian bath pools (which included thermal and Nordic waterfalls, hot baths and cold plunges), and then sunbathed in their hammocks. Even though we were only there for a few hours, it was a really nice and much needed escape from our daily grind. We’ll certainly be back the next time we’re in Whistler.
For dinner, we went to Bearfoot Bistro to experience their 5-course prix fixe menu. We had heard really good things about this restaurant, and had been meaning to go there for quite some time. Before our first course was served, we headed downstairs to check out their huge wine cellar which boasts a collection of 20,000 vintages. I even got to saber a bottle of champagne. If you’ve never done this before, it’s really quite neat. The tradition dates back to the Napoloenic era, when cleanly sabering the top off a bottle of champagne symbolized good luck in the battle to come.
The bottle is typically chilled in ice beforehand, and once chilled you would hold it in one hand, while your other hand slides the blade of the saber along the side of the bottle, hitting the lip gently to break the glass. The pressure from the champagne causes the collar to separate from the neck of the bottle. The cork and collar remain together after separating from the neck, and was packaged in a commemorative box for me to take home. That was a nice touch!
Left: Ricotta cavatelli with prosciutto cream, guanciale, kale, and crisp quail egg; Right: Atlantic lobster bisque with buttered leek, potato, tarragon lobster, and pernod.
Above: Smoked sturgeon with Northern Divine caviar with green pea, rye bread, and mint yogurt.
As an added bonus, we even got to check out the Belvedere Ice Room right before dessert. They got us to slip on their Canada Goose parkas and led us into their -32C Belvedere Ice Room. It is the world’s coldest vodka tasting room, and the only permanent sub-zero vodka room in the country. With a collection of over 50 vodkas from across the globe, you can enjoy a flight of 4 vodkas with an educated vodka expert for $49/person. The extreme environment really enhances the flavour of the vodkas while minimizing alcohol burn.
We sampled a variety of desserts as well, but this nitro ice cream (above) which was prepared table side was the highlight of the meal. This dessert is meant to be shared between at least 2 people, so it was perfect for us. I have to say that this dinner was one of the most memorable dining experiences in recent memory.
On our last day, to celebrate Canada’s 147th birthday, we donned our Team Canada t-shirts and watched the parade wind its way through Whistler Village.
Numerous activities took place throughout the village, including a live outdoor performance by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra at the Whistler Olympic Plaza. The Whistler Concert Series kicked off on June 28th, with several free outdoor concerts at this venue throughout the summer. You can view the concert schedule here.
As an Amex Cardmember, the Amex Selects program makes American Express more than just a credit card. Check out the current Amex Selects offer and book a Whistler getaway before the summer comes to an end. Service is a significant reason that consumers choose brands. American Express is committed to delivering the world’s best service experiences, and it’s safe to say that we enjoyed a wealth of world class services from world class establishments on this trip.
Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Amex Canada. The views and opinions expressed in this blog, however, are purely my own.