Deciding to Go to Whistler
Kevin and I decided to have an EPIC WINTER this cold season and purchased our full access Epic Passes back in March 2022 for $792. We received our confirmations in Sep 2022 and received our ID cards in the mail shortly after.
I have been snowboarding for 15 years... but I'm not good. I am scared of going fast so I don't let myself speed up. I am a decent intermediate snowboarder, able to avoid people, stop and assist people that have fallen, and ride the mountain to base – just slowly. I tell Kevin I need to go to bravery school so I can be like the little kids zipping right by!
So, before we get too old, I decided we should get these passes and make the most of it. We have been excited for winter since spring – which is kinda crazy, but we definitely had "can't wait for summer to be over" vibes (even though we had a great summer too)!
Ever since we made our way to Whiteface Mountain in Lake Placid (see post), we decided to add other Winter Olympic sites to our list of destinations.
Whistler is the biggest Winter Olympic site for North America, so we have been thinking about this place for two years.
We actually wanted to go to the Swiss Alps back in Dec 2022 as our 1st Epic Pass experience but the resorts require visitors to stay at a resort to be able to use their Epic Pass. The resorts were $1,000 a night 😂
Planning The Trip
Our friend also bought an Epic Pass so we planned this getaway together. Ideally, we were looking for a hotel room to leverage our Marriott and Hilton statuses, but the space was a bit small for 3 people (it would've been fine for 2).
We found great options on Airbnb – modern design, clean, positive reviews. (We try not to book too many Airbnbs now since it can be a hit or miss, and not as flexible as a hotel with cancellation and bag storage.)
Getting from Vancouver Airport to Whistler is a 2-hour drive. We decided to not a rent a car since driving wouldn't be as convenient as we wanted to relax and not worry about the road conditions. Having drove this path in the summer, we didn't quite know if the winter would be as pleasant. We read online that the Whistler Village is very walkable and decided against renting the car (which could've incurred additional parking fees, depending on where you stay).
We found a few bus shuttle operators and they were all relatively the same price:
- Epic Rides
- SkyLynx ($73 roundtrip)
The SkyLynx shuttle was very easy to find at the Vancouver Airport. The staff attending the booth was friendly. The drivers were professionals and got us there and back safely, while handling all baggage for the passengers.
While the SkyLynx shuttles run frequently, they do stop in the evening. We also did not want to risk any flight delays that may make us miss our shuttle.
We flew in a night earlier and stayed near the airport so we can get to the Whistler Village first thing the next morning. Our 7 AM shuttle got us to the mountain by 10 AM. I wish I can tell you it was scenic and lovely (which it is, since we were there in the summer), but I was asleep more than half the ride and caught glimpses of the sunrise ~9 AM.
Riding the Mountain
Looking back, maybe we should've went down a blue slope but decided to stick to the green / easy trail since we became familiar with us. The easiest trail is literally marked in yellow.
We even downloaded the Slopes app and I learned that my average speed is 9.0 mph and fastest was 16.2 mph (that's fast for me 😳 !)
The Whistler Village gondola had lines around 11 AM - 12 PM as that takes people to the almost-top of the mountain. The longest wait was 30 minutes to get inside the gondola. The gondola ride was 30 - 45 minutes depending on the winds at the moment. Riding down at my average speed took 45 - 60 min.
The Whistler Village gondola fits up to 8 people and during busier hours, they WILL fit the gondola to capacity.
We also took the Excelsior gondola to the Blackcomb side to check things out. It felt more intermediate there. The green "easy trail" down was all mountain side – very nerve wracking for me. We decided not to ride Blackcomb again, haha.
Food & Dining in the Whistler Village
It's funny that on this snowboarding trip, I learned the après-ski phrase – which is literally "after ski" in French – to summarize the socializing after a day of skiing.
There are many places that offer happy hours during the 3 PM - 5 PM time frames to attract people after a day in the slopes.
Our favorite was Earls, which is a chain restaurant in Canada. They had this tasty winter sangria that consisted of red wine, cranberry, orange, and rosemary for 4.75 CAD and these tuna "tacos" with shiso leaf wrapped in rice sesame paper for 5 CAD.
I do not recommend Crystal Lounge for the 50 cent wings as they are small and drenched in sauce – unless that's your thing.