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Whistler in Summer. Who knew?

When I think ‘Whistler’, images of deep powdery glistening snow, gondolas filled with colorfully clad, be-goggled skiers, and snowboarders hurling themselves down mountain sides are what parade through my mind.  Or that was what paraded through my mind until a week ago when an invitation came to escape from the office to the Great White North for a long weekend.  Except Whistler, it turns out, isn’t the Great White North in the summer.  It’s the Great Green North – meadows and mountains covered in every hue of green from sage to British racing and back again.

There are still adrenaline-fueled humans wrapped in body armor careering down the mountains, but in summer they are straddling rugged beasty mountain bikes, full-face crash helmets tightly strapped to their heads.  Deep blue skies punctuated by cheerful puffs of white floating through the smog-free air.  Café tables spilling onto the paved walkways, their owners providing platefuls of summer fare and comforting favorites alongside glasses of rosé and pints of beer.  Couples stroll hand-in-hand soaking up the sunshine along with a large dose of relaxing Canadian ambiance.  Sunday Farmers Markets entice with gorgeous art and taste-bud-tantalizing artisan treats.  This was not the Whistler I knew, but it was the Whistler I fell in love with in just 3 restful and restorative days.









Friday got started with a BLT omelet – chopped grilled bacon, fresh spinach, heirloom cherry tomatoes, and lashings of fresh mozzarella surrounded by fluffy, moist eggs cooked into lightly browned buttery omelet – the perfect precursor to a sunshiny drive from Seattle to Vancouver.  Yes, yes I will post the omelet recipe – it was so{ooooo} good.  A quick pit stop at a java hut in Monroe and it was off to Canada, passport in hand, eh.

By noon Stanley Park was within sight where a spot right by the sea wall overlooking downtown Vancouver was waiting.  Pineapple Pine Nut Salad made its appearance on the blanket on the grass in the dappled sunshine streaming through the gently swaying leaves of the shady trees above.  Then came a gentle drive circumnavigating Stanley Park – always a must when the chance presents itself.  My first jaunt around Stanley Park was on foot one gloriously warm and sunny day in September 1986.  I remember it like yesterday – the day I suddenly realized that I had escaped childhood and was a fully fledged adult alone and free some 5000 miles from my homeland, experiencing a new country and reveling in the enormity of my first solo adventure.  The world truly was my oyster.

This time the circumnavigation was on four wheels – I was eager to get to Whistler! – but the memories of that first walk were no less intense from the comfort of my trusty 4-Runner.  Stanley Park will always hold a very special place in my heart.

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If you haven’t driven the Sea-to-Sky Highway stretching from Vancouver through Whistler to Lillooet – DO IT!!  It is 254 miles of visually stunning vistas – towering peaks, the ocean below, peaceful glass-like lakes, and lush greenery at every turn.  This weekend I stopped driving at Whistler, but last Fall I carried on up over the pass to Lillooet for a stunning drive that lasted all day but I wish had lasted for a week.  Or two.

The curvaceous, undulating roadway between Vancouver and Whistler is one of my favorite roads to drive on a clear blue sunny day.  Hand on heart it’s a little scary when it’s dark or wet, or – heaven forbid – both.  On a brilliant day it’s a brilliant drive despite having to concentrate really hard at keeping your eyes on the road while the glistening ocean and ethereal islands parade by on your left and the giants of mountains call out to you from the right.  It’s difficult not to stop at every view point and turnoff – every one providing jaw-dropping views of mother nature at her finest.

Rolling into Whistler Village in the summer is delightful and the locals work hard at keeping it so.  Pristine walkways, beautiful landscaping, and natural stone buildings at every turn against a backdrop of majestic mountains, everything within a short stroll or an easy bike ride away.  Home for the weekend was The Westin – a fairy-tale castle of a building – right at the base of the Whistler Blackcomb mountains and a stone’s thrown from the Peak-to-Peak gondola rising up towards the summit.

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Checked in and bags unloaded it was time to relax on the balcony with a light snack before heading out for an evening stroll, a delicious dinner (steak! please!) and wind-me-down hot tub (no, no hot tubs pictures here) before sinking into one of the Westin’s famous Heavenly beds.  The weekend was getting off to a rather lovely start.



Saturday morning woke up with a rosy glow and a peaceful half hour on the balcony overlooking the mountains as the sun peeked her head between the peaks.  And yes, I can concur that the beds at the Westin truly are heavenly.  I’d show you a picture, except I don’t think the world is ready for an eyeful of my bed-head hair.

The pre-noon agenda was breakfast at The Grill and Vine followed by a morning of mountain biking on the Valley Trail.  I confess: I hadn’t been on a bike since the World Wide Web was invented, so there was a little trepidation about the whole ‘it’s like riding a bike’ thing.  Breakfast was The Bomb.

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Pure, fresh-squeezed juices served in shot glasses –  cucumber mixed with kale, romaine, lemon, basil, and coconut; beet mixed with carrot, spinach, apple, lemon, and ginger.  An intense shot of YUM to start the day.  The onto the breakfast buffet – so many low-carb, SANE choices!  If scrambled eggs can be gorgeous – these were; nothing like you’re average hotel buffet eggs.  Some were mixed with veggies.  I had both.  And the sausages!  OH!  The sausages.  Chicken and apple, and pork – real pork sausages just like we get back home in England made for one super happy breakfasting Brit.

Then it was off to the bike shop for bikes and helmets with Justine – a delightful tour guide who restrained herself from her usual habit of throwing herself down mountainsides to share the delights of the bike trails that meander through Whistler. A couple of times I had to get off and walk up the hilly bits.  On one such occasion I got all the gears wrong (how many gears are there on a mountain bike?!?!?!?!) and couldn’t push the pedals round for love nor money.  The second time I was laughing so hard I fell off the bike and couldn’t get going again.  Not withstanding the falling off part, I am inspired to start biking around the trails in Seattle.  So. Much. Fun.

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Still full from breakfast, the next stop was a change of clothes and a large glass of water before heading back out into the warm summer sunshine to explore Whistler Village.  Sauntering among the shops and table-lined walkways, popping into interesting stores – I bought a hat! – and making good use of the many benches dotted throughout the manicured landscaping.  Whistler is a truly delightful place to just hang.

Back at the Westin, an all-things- green hotel to match the fresh Whistler environment, and adorned in a swimsuit, it was 45 minutes in the eucalyptus-infused steam room for that puppet-with-her-strings-cut feeling.  The steam was so thick it was like being enveloped in a warm, wet cloud.  I have never experienced a steam room so intense – the dense swirling steam and nostril-tingling eucalyptus essential oil was deeply relaxing yet invigorating all at the same time.  I could have stayed there for at least another hour, but there was fresh fruit, brie, Pelligrino, and balcony cooing at me to join them.  I obliged.

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A spot of primping came next, then dinner on the terrace for a sneak peek of the Westin’s Summer Dinner Series at The Grill and Vine.  If the rest of the day wasn’t enough to make me want to visit Whistler in the summer more often, the dinner alone was.  Is there anything better than fresh, local produce brilliantly prepared for an al fresco dinner on a warm Saturday night, with mountains for a backdrop and soulful live music for a soundtrack?

The albacore tuna (top left) was a revelation – soft tuna flesh that defies an adequate description, the fresh Okanagan nectarine and buratta salad (top right) was summer on a plate.  Cast Iron Seared Haida Gwaii Halibut (bottom left) was the most amazing flavored halibut I have ever eaten. And the pea purée – oh good lord it would have knocked my socks off had I been wearing any.  The Madeira Braised Veal Cheeks (bottom right) was the tenderest, juiciest meat you can imagine – like slicing through melted butter, along with carrot purée that was unbelievably intense and smooth.

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Stunning scenery, lively engaging company, and taste-bud-blowing food, not to mention the outstanding service from Lindsay who has been in attendance since the Westin first opened it’s doors in Whistler 15 years ago.  It was a remarkable evening.

Sunday brought with it breakfast in bed before a visit to the Farmers Market, a gentle ramble from Whistler Village. Fresh produce and artisan foods and crafts were everywhere.  A happy-go-lucky ambiance, strolling round the market stalls, friendly Canadians, sitting on the sidewalk with a latte, lapping up the fresh air and sunshine.  Whistler is such a treat!

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With hand-crafted grass-fed beef jerky (no! sugar!) and fresh, juicy cherries in hand it was time to head south, the glorious Sea-to-Sky Highway beckoning me back home to my kitties and clematis, so relaxed and refreshed I was sure I had been on vacation. That’s what a fantastic long summer weekend in Whistler will do for you.  Think Whistler is just for winter?  Think again!

I wish I’d had time for all the other summer activities on offer: mountain biking, golfing, hiking, zip-lining, ATV and RZR tours taking in all that nature has to offer, and the peak-to-peak gondola.  And then there’s driving the 99 to Lillooet – it was awesome in the Fall, it must be spectacular in the summer.  Swoon.

Whatever makes you feel good – do more of that.



**Accommodation, meals and tours were courtesy of The Westin Whistler, who I thank profusely for the invitation.  All views, sentiments, and ramblings are my own.**

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  • Cowgirl RaeAhhhh, makes it almost like I was there.

    Great review!ReplyCancel