Eat, Sleep, Spa, Repeat: Whistler Edition

Relaxation and assured good times are just a short trip away from Vancouver up the Sea to Sky Highway in Whistler

Relaxation and assured good times are just a short trip away from Vancouver up the Sea to Sky Highway in Whistler

From uber-fancy hotels to open-air Nordic-style palaces of chill, there’s a spa for you to enjoy in Whistler—and plenty of deliciousness and comfy beds too.

Top Transportation Tip: Skip the hassles of pricey gas and parking fees and book the $42 return Skylynx bus, which picks up from Pacific Central Station or Burrard Skytrain at the Hyatt, and whisks you to downtown Whistler in two hours complete with free WiFi and chargers.

The Creekside option

Tucked away in Creekside, Nita Lake Lodge may have slipped off your radar: immediately correct that as there’s a terrific new team in place at the bar and restaurant, rooms are getting a full refresh, and the spa is divine.

Eat: The Den’s menu of plant- and animal-based proteins feels like a glimpse into a more egalitarian dining future where you can have a beet or a beef carpaccio, a beautifully cooked steak with a plate-lickingly good chimichurri, but your favourite thing turns out to be an absolute garlic-riot of a dish based around a patty of puffy, fluffy green chickpeas. Creative cocktails and a tight mostly-B.C. wine list put The Den on any Whistler must-visit list.

Sleep: Ski lodge vibes with a ridiculously picture-perfect view over Nita Lake will immediately put you in a de-stressed mood. Add in a flickering gas fireplace, stone-tile flooring—especially nice in the shower—and a seriously good mattress and you’re happily chilled out before you’ve even hit the spa.

Spa: Arrive early to make use of the rooftop hot tubs overlooking the mountains, and the eucalyptus steam room. Say farewell to dry winter skin with the Spring Nita Signature Treatment Special (Available for $280 till June 29), a two-hour wildly indulgent multi-step treatment that starts with a Himalayan salt body scrub, moves on to a soothing mud wrap, and ends with a full body massage. This is honestly one of the best treatments I’ve ever had—it left me with satin-soft skin and soothed my stiff shoulders. Heaven.

Top Tip: The Joffre Lake smoothie from the on-site Fix Café is freaking awesome: banana, avocado, blueberries, dates, cacao nibs, hemp seed and almond milk.

Village option No. 1: Easy-breezy

Eat: It’s been a while since I checked out the Garibaldi Lift Co. right in the heart of the Village at the foot of the mountain, and to be truthful, I’d not considered them for more than a good ‘touristy burgers and poutine’ kinda spot with a brilliant view. Guess what? I was wrong! New chefs, new directions, and an excellent new menu that, yes, definitely will fuel those basics, but also offers an on-point ahi tuna poke and spicy Brazilian choripan too.

Sleep: It’s a general rule of thumb that if your hotel leaves earplugs by the bed, then you shouldn’t be surprised if it’s kinda noisy. That’s the case at Adara, as it’s upstairs from long-term Whistler nightlife favourite, Buffalo Bills. But if you’re looking to balance your detox with some re-toxing, then it’s the ideal place to stay, as it’s in the middle of the Village, and the rooms are spacious, spotlessly clean, and the beds are firm and comfy. Relax in the heated pool and hot tub, or chill by the rooftop firepit.

Spa: No matter when I go to the Scandinave, in summer sun or winter snow, it’s always the absolute best experience. This silent spa offers up a Scandinavian approach to spa-ing through hot and cold thermal therapy. Heat up for 20 minutes in one of the huge pools, saunas or steam rooms, then take a full body dunk into a cold pool for a minute. Next, relax in a solarium, hammock, or in a lounger for 20 minutes, then repeat. Do the circuit three times and you’ll feel like a million dollars. This is a must-do and the best fun you can buy for $90 from Monday to Friday and for $105 on Saturday and Sunday (until June 30, when prices increase to $135). Reservations recommended.

Top tip: Please remember to be quiet in the Scandinave. It just makes it better for everyone. Also: wrap a towel around you before the robe—when you go to relax, it keeps your robe semi-dry.

Village option #2: Maybe take the kids?

Eat: The folks who created the menu at the on-site Grill & Vine at the Westin Resort have clearly done quite a bit of travel themselves and understand the joy of being able to eat something healthy when you’re away from home; it’s a small touch, but a smart one. I hoovered up crunchy wonton chips with ahi tuna poke, and the crispy cauliflower in the quinoa-based Buddha Bowl was at Goldilocks-levels of just-right. In the morning, I dived into room service and the Eat Well menu: a half-portion of the yoghurt bowl with hemp, cacao nibs and banana did the trick along with a beautiful anti-inflammatory juice of ginger, carrot, turmeric, lemon and orange.

Sleep: I can see why there were so many rug rats whizzing around at my visit. Every room at the Westin is a suite with kitchenette (including dishwasher!), fireplace and seating area, and there’s a good reason why folks are so enthusiastic about the Westin’s trademark ‘Heavenly’ beds: believe the marketing hype—they really are divine. There’s a pool and whirlpool, and a decent-sized gym with a sauna and steam room too.

Spa: Think beauty salon-style basic-but-thorough face, nail and body treatments with experienced therapists. I had a terrific massage here, and positively floated back to my Heavenly bed. The Spa at Whistler also offers a range of IV and injection treatments to help you with everything from anti-aging (boosting your body’s antioxidant abilities), relaxing (all the B vitamins plus calcium, magnesium, glycine and potassium), or just recover from a hangover (IV hydration therapy to rehydrate, recover, and restore).

Four Seasons: Full Indulgence

Eat: I went all-in on indulgence and had room service so I could eat in my robe. I’d heard that the hotel’s Goan executive chef Kumar Das’s butter chicken was unmissable, and damn, if that’s not the truth, served with a beautiful flaky paratha flatbread, I inhaled the lot. Soooo good!  Spicy, buttery, silky-smooth and a crazy amount of sauce: just how I like it! In the morning, I checked out the breakfast buffet at the Braidwood Tavern. Do not snooze on this—it’s tremendous value if you’re feeling hungry, with dozens of little treats on offer from a divine lemon mayo salmon, to gyoza, mini burgers and perfectly buttery croissants.

Sleep: Yes, it’s a little pricey, but honestly, the feeling of such luxury is worth every cent. The Four Seasons service remains superb, with adorable soft touches such as warm apple cider on arrival and a full complement of resort experiences—from daily yoga classes and s’mores by the firepit to wine tasting. Even the entry-level rooms are around 500 square feet, which feel pleasingly spacious and have gas fireplaces and balconies. My room overlooked the pool and mountains and I slept with the drapes open so I could enjoy every second. Upgrade to a suite and you’ll get complimentary breakfast. They currently have an offer until November 9 where you get a third free night if you book for two.

Spa: Boasting a changing room steam room, a pool-side barrel sauna and whirlpool, the spa at the Four Seasons delivers on relaxation. I had a facial, which incorporated massage and left me so relaxed I actually started gently snoring on the heated massage table. Let’s all just pretend that’s a compliment to my talented therapist. My post-spa selfie shows my skin glowing, my eyes bright and my smile wide. I loved everything about the spa here—it’s so luxurious!

Top tip: My advice is to head down first thing in the morning when it opens at 8 a.m., as my friend and I had the place to ourselves.