The advantage of living in Vancouver, a beautifully vibrant city on its own, is that it’s so close to so many fantastic getaway options. A weekend in the Fraser Valley, on Vancouver Island, across the border, or up the Sea to Sky is rarely out of the question in any season. For that reason, I thought it was time I planned a weekend away with my friend Keira-Anne since we realized recently that we hadn’t been away together since we went to New York in 2010.
Between delightfully crafted meals and sipping wine by the fireplace, we went on an adventure through the treetops and crisp alpine air and had a bubbly night time hot tub soak hugged by snow banks.
Four Seasons Whistler
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Before this weekend, Keira had a less than favourable impression Whistler based on a previous experience. However, upon arriving in the Four Seasons’ lodge-inspired lobby with roaring fireplace and West Coast art, her perception immediately change. A smile lit up her face as she pointed out design elements like a child spotting stars in the sky on a clear summer night — and we still hadn’t left the lobby.
Our west-facing room was very specious, so much so that I walked in and jokingly quoted the bunk bed scene from the Will Ferrel movie Step Brothers: “Look at all this floor space! We can do aerobics in here, step class, so many activities!”
The main activity in our room was turning on the fireplace, popping a bottle of Prosecco, and catching up on girl talk. The two bathrooms, soaker tub, two showers, and dual vanity also provided us plenty of space to get ready in the morning and before meals as we hit Whistler Village.
Sidecut at Four Seasons Whistler
On our first night at the Four Seasons we dined in the resort at Sidecut, a grand steakhouse inspired restaurant on the ground floor. We didn’t make a reservation so we waited at the bar (as could be expected) with cocktails in hand for about 10 minutes before being shown to a table. The space was massive, which seemed to be a trend at the Four Seasons, offering warm lighting, friendly service, and delicious menu items starting with the complimentary popovers that arrived at each table.
We definitely indulged. Selecting a few classic sides, we enjoyed roasted mushrooms and creamy whipped yukon potato alongside our 6oz tenderloins. A bottle of red wine was next and Keira reminded me that we could cork it and take it back up to our room, which was a nice option as we did end up enjoying it again the following evening.
Ziptrek Eagle Zipline Tour
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Whistler had just opened a few runs, Blackcomb was stilled closed when we arrived and Keira had sold her snowboard last season so I knew hitting the slopes was out as an activity option. There wasn’t enough snow in the valley for snowmobiling so in a brilliant light-bulb moment I knew exactly who to call: Ziptrek! At first I was thinking we would do the TreeTrek Tour, then I figured we might as well actually zipline. Prepared to do the shortest series, I was (thankfully) upsold to Ziptrek’s Eagle Tour.
After meeting up in Whistler Village we took the gondola up to the mid-point on the mountain and walked to our first line of five, the first and latest being a 2400ft zipline with a 30-storey descent.
When you’re on the starting platform, secured on the line and ready to walk down a set of stairs that lead nowhere to set sail across a sea of snowy trees, your heart races. Why am I doing this again? How did I get up here? All of a sudden you let yourself fly over Fitzsimmons Creek and epic views appear as you soar between Whistler and Blackcomb. You arrive on the other side and find yourself giddy for the next line where you’ll again feel fear and doubt followed by high-speed moments thinking that this is the best thing ever! It really helps to have fun and friendly guides with you as well (like Martin and Bobby). Their warm and helpful demeanour adds a level of trust that is crucial — there’s a reason that Ziptrek is ranked #1 of all 55 activities in Whistler on Trip Advisor.
The best part about Ziptrek is that you’re not just riding a zipline, you’re getting a history lesson about the area, information about the environment and its biodiversity, and learning about what the company is doing to be sustainable by following the Natural Step. From natural and unpainted wood platforms, to solar power, it’s a thorough education about the coastal temperate rainforest in which you’re playing for the morning.
Spa at the Four Seasons Whistler
Following our three-hour Ziptrek tour and our walk back to the Four Seasons (on Blackcomb) from Whistler Village, we were ready to warm up and the spa was the ideal place to do so. We walked down in our robes from our room and were welcomed with a delicate tray of tea and bite-size morsels of dried fruit before we headed in. The dressing room was fully stocked with amenities (from robes and towels to hair dryers, lotions, hair spray, and anything else you would need to get ready after a spa visit) and we waited in a tranquil lounge before our appointments.
We were booked for a West Coast Marine Scrub and an Apres Ski Massage, and I let Keira take her pick of treatments — she opted for the scrub. Just the right amount of pressure and a warm towel wrap on my chilled feet had me drifting away before the 50 minutes of Apres Zip were up and us girls were reunited in the lounge. We took our time then grabbed our suits and went outside for a dip in one of the resort’s many hot tubs. After spending hours on the mountain it was nice to spend an equal amount of time in our robes, reflecting on the day.
Throughout the weekend we also enjoyed dinner at Alta Bistro and breakfast at Elements Bistro, both were cozy, unique, and offered delicious health-conscious dishes with gluten free options. At Elements we sat at the bar for breakfast, mesmerized by the preparation of their infamous brie-stuffed French toast, and at Alta Bistro Keira remarked that it was so warm and welcoming it was as though we were all dining at someone’s home.
I find that the key to planning any weekend away is to have a few key building blocks in place (like where you’re staying and what your main activity will be) and then let the rest flow so you’re not stuck to a schedule.
For meals I consulted few a resources. The first was The Celiac Scene for Gluten-Free options for Keira, and the second was simply Yelp. Other than that, we played it by ear, like making the compulsory breakfast stop at the Southside Diner in Creekside on our way back to Vancouver.
The trip was the perfect way to start our holiday season, with our first steps in snow and our first glance at twinkling Christmas lights strung up on evergreens. My ultimate goal was to have an epic “girls getaway” and to also warm Keira up to Whistler. When she looked at me in the car and said “I can’t think of a reason to give any of the places we visited any less than 5 stars on Yelp,” I knew my mission was accomplished.