Does the approaching Winter Olympics have you dreaming of channeling your inner Olympian? With the State Department issuing a travel advisory last week cautioning Americans about terrorist attacks at the Winter Games, whether or not the warning will deter attendance next month remains to be seen. Regardless, if you can’t make it to Sochi, Russia to watch the pros at the 2014 Olympics, you can take an opportunity to ski with one a bit closer to home. Host of the last Winter Olympics, Whistler, British Columbia, is rolling out their Ski With an Olympian program for the second year in a row. Sign up and you’ll get a full day of skiing or snowboarding for groups of up to 5 people with an Olympic legacy as your personal guide.
How cool is it to get access to a pro like Rob Royd – the 3-time Olympian, 6-time World Championship athlete, and head coach for the Canadian Women’s National Ski Team — to ask him for pointers on upping your all-mountain skills? Or to hear Olympic insider stories over lunch with half-pipe and freestyle snowboarders such as Crispin Lipscomb or Tara Teigenm? Hop on the Peak 2 Peak Gondola, which connects Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains, and you’ll have plenty of time to listen to those Olympic stories while taking in the view. (It’s not only the highest lift in the world, but also the longest unsupported lift span on the planet!)
While Whistler attracts all levels of skiers and snowboarders with North America’s longest ski season running from November to July, 8,171 acres of terrain, and 38 lifts — there is plenty to do off the slopes, too. I fell in love with the place after attending the 2012 Wanderlust Festival in August, and made it my mission to make it back there this winter.
Here are a few of the highlights:
Legs aching and muscles sore after a day spent on the slopes? Head to this 20,000-square-foot outdoor spa spread across 3 woodsy acres and set on the edge of Lost Lake. The Scandinavian baths and outdoor thermal waterfalls are said to boost circulation and release toxins.
This boutique hotel is conveniently located only 500 meters from the Whistler Creekside Gondola and has the best, little après ski spot called Cure. There’s a crackling fireplace inside if you want to curl up on the couch with a hot toddy, or perfect your marshmallow-roasting skills on the outdoor fire pit on the patio overlooking the frozen lake. They also serve up complimentary flavored popcorn, which can be addictive and will definitely make you want to wash it down with another beer.
This is my absolute favorite dinner spot at Whistler (though I haven’t tried Rim Rock Café yet, which locals highly recommend). I felt like I was watching Food Network when I got a seat in front of the open kitchen, where executive chef Melissa Craig commands a team of 20 (she was the first Canadian woman to win the National Apprentice Competition). She cooks up creations like the bc rabbit loin with bacon, mustard cream and black trumpet mushroom. Definitely don’t miss the nitro ice cream — it’s perfectly creamy, made tableside, and you get to choose your own sundae toppings — or the Belvedere Ice Room, the coldest vodka tasting room in the world.
More Winter Adventures:
By Holly C. Corbett
Holly C. Corbett is a part of a trio of female travelers known as The Lost Girls and a regular Girl Getaway contributor to TravelChannel.com. She has written for digital and print publications including USA Today, Redbook.com, Shape, Budget Travel, MensFitness.com andCondeNastTraveler.com. She’s happiest when she’s getting lost in a new place, diving with sharks in Belize or Borneo, and training for Runaway Bridesmaids—a charity race she founded that raises money to fight sex trafficking.