24.10.2015 - The Courier Mail
Summer or winter, Whistler is a magic destination and The Fairmont Chateau Whistler is the place to stay, writes Phil Brown
We arrived in our room at The Fairmont Chateau Whistler hotel to find a cryptic note. Welcome to Whistler, where the beer flows like wine, where beautiful women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano.
I had to think for a minute and then it came to me. It was a line from Dumb & Dumber when Lloyd (Jim Carrey) is describing the ski town of Aspen, Colorado, to Harry (Jeff Daniels). Idiots.
It was a personal touch thanks to a savvy hotel PR lady who had done her research and divined that I was a fan of the Farrelly brothers movie.
Whistler is not Aspen but it does share a lot of the same attributes and both top the bill as North American destinations. Both have village atmospheres, amazing scenery and both are world famous snow skiing resorts.
But the thing is, we were visiting in summer. No problem. Summer is lovely in Whistler, the location of the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, just a couple of hours by road or rail from Vancouver in the province of British Columbia.
We caught the famous Rocky Mountaineer train and propped at The Fairmont Chateau Whistler because we love this chains hotels and we are trying to work our way through their properties in the region. Its taking a while but well get there.
We have previously stayed at the The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, a hotel by a lake that has one of the worlds most stunning settings and we have also sojourned at the excellent Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge in the Canadian Rockies. We have yet to stay at the Fairmont Empress on Vancouver Island, though we have had afternoon tea there and The Fairmont Banff Springs is also on our list. (I dont like to call it a bucket list, not yet)
The Fairmont Chateau Whistler is nestled at the base of Blackcomb Mountain, one of the two peaks that tower above Whistler Village. The proximity to the mountain means you can ski to the hotels back door. When theres snow.
This hotel has the old-world charm that this historic chains properties are famous for but it is by no means stuffy. The lounge bar and pool area was piping a solid roots reggae soundtrack while we were there, which surprised and delighted us.
Despite the grandeur its a relaxed, friendly hotel and that friendliness extends to dogs as well as humans. We were amazed to see people checking in with their pooches.
Whistler Village, just a five-minute stroll away, is a happening place, just as much in summer as winter. There are great cafes and restaurants including Sushi Village Japanese Restaurant. We were told we must eat there and we did. It was awesome.
Whistler Village made me think of Noosa without the beach. But it does have snow and skiing. But not in summer, right? Wrong. You can still ski on the nearby glacier if youre keen. We wondered where all those young dudes wandering around with skis on a hot summers day were going.
We rode the gondola up to Whistler Mountain each day and watched mountain bikers hurtling downhill beneath us. Mountain biking is one of the main summer activities.
We went for an Alpine walk and you can go across to Blackcomb Mountain on the PEAK 2 PEAK gondola service, which is not for the fainthearted. Thats why I sent my wife and son and stayed on Whistler Mountain. They reported that it was an amazing experience and they even saw a bear from up there.
Theres plenty else to do in summer including zip line adventures, hiking, kayaking, fishing and all manner of other summer fun. The Fairmont Chateau Whistler has an activities concierge and the hotel will organise any of this for you. They organised a hike by a lake for us one morning.
In Whistler Village take the time to visit the Whistler Museum and the excellent Squamish Lilwat Cultural Centre which celebrates the culture of local First Nations people. I recommend hanging around the hotel a bit too. Its such a gorgeous property and it has a world class golf course too if you dont mind having a good walk spoiled.
The food is fabulous and The Grill Room serves amazing steaks. The chef brings the meat to the table so you can choose your cut and the barman also attends to help you create your own cocktail or mocktail, my preferred tipple. And though I dont drink I think the beer does really flow like wine here and there are salmon, but whether or not they flock like the ones in Capistrano Im not sure. And wasnt that swallows anyway?
The writer and his family were guests of Destination British Columbia
Arts Editor - The Courier-Mail, Deputy Editor - CANVAS, News Queensland
Copyright © Phil Brown