Our annual family ski trips have always taken us to either Utah or Colorado, but I’ve had my eye on Whistler Blackcomb for a while. It’s not the most convenient place to visit from Washington DC. But with a stash of SPG points in my account, I finally pulled the trigger and was able to snag a 5 night stay at the Westin Whistler located steps away from the Whistler gondola.
Believe it or not, there are no direct flights from any of Washington DC’s three airports to Vancouver. So I had to decide if we should fly direct into Seattle and drive the 4.5 hours to Whistler or fly into Vancouver with a flight connection then only have a 2 hour drive to Whistler.
After checking flight times and cost, it was much cheaper to fly direct to Seattle instead of connecting to Vancouver. While our trip had about 2.5 hours more driving time since we flew into Seattle, we would have arrived in Whistler just about the same time since the shortest connection I could find was 90 minutes.
I was a little concerned about being held up at the border crossing after reading Mommy Point’s post, but it only took a quick 10 minutes on the way into Canada. Returning back to the US took a little longer at the border about 30 minutes even though the posted wait time was 5 minutes. I think we crossed right at a shift change (8am on a Tuesday) since there were only 2 lanes open.
The drive wasn’t so bad especially in the brand new Ford Expedition I was able to rent for less than $40/day. There were some amazing views especially on the roads from Vancouver to Whistler.
When I booked this trip, an award night at the Westin Whistler was 12,000 SPG points (unfortunately it was just raised to 16,000 pts/night). And don’t forget if you book 4 nights, your 5th night is free. So in total, we used 48,000 SPG points for the 5 night stay.
Let’s see what kind of value I got:
Now I’m usually good about snagging a screenshot of the cash price when I make an award booking, but I missed doing it for this trip. If I remember correctly rates were around $800-$900 CAD/night.
The cheapest rate (prepaid) I could find for a 5 night stay next year over President’s Day weekend is currently running over $5284 CAD when you include the taxes. When you factor in the exchange rate (1 CAD = $0.78 USD) – it works out to be $824/night.
$824/night x 5 nights = $4120 / 48,000 SPG points = 8.5 ¢/pt which is AMAZINGLY good!
While not a true ski in / ski out hotel like Hyatt Centric Park City or Westin Snowmass, the Westin Whistler was steps away from the main gondola and at the end of the village center.
The village center blows away any of the other ski villages I’ve been to – it large with lots of shops and restaurants. There is no need to drive anywhere until you are ready to leave.
Like just about all hotel loyalty programs, award nights are good for the standard basic room and ours was no exception. We were booked into a ‘Deluxe Studio with a Balcony”. I tried for an upgrade (even a paid one) but the hotel was fully booked.
The room was pretty tight for us but we managed.
I was amazed that they packed a whole kitchen in this studio also – there was an oven, stovetop, microwave, dishwasher, and refrigerator packed into this area. It came in handy since there was a grocery store in the village.
There was a small fitness center along with hot tubs (both indoor & outdoor) and an indoor/outdoor pool.
There were a few restaurants and a bunch of shops in the Westin but it never seemed busy or crowded even though the hotel was fully occupied.
We were given two free cocktails at the Firerock Lounge for having SPG Gold Status which were really tasty.
Across from the restaurants was a long hallway with shops on each side. At the very end of the hallway was the ski valet where you picked up your skis each morning. They charge you $9 CAD per day (up to $27 CAD max per room) to store your skis – you take your poles and boots to your room.
So how was the skiing? It was really really good. Not only is it one of the largest resorts in North America but there is so many different kinds of terrain – from alpine to bowls to spruce forests with midmountain fog. There is terrain for everyone – including a lot of family friendly runs.
Whistler is also home to the Peak 2 Peak gondola – the world’s longest and highest. Each car can hold 28 people and the 2.73 mile ride across the valley takes 11 minutes. Some more interesting facts can be found here.
There were no shortage of restaurants in Whistler village – everything from Kentucky Fried Chicken and McDonalds to 5 star fine dining.
The first night we ate at Caramba Restaurant. It was very busy but we were able to snag 4 seats at the counter overlooking the kitchen. This Italian restaurant was very good and the favorite of my wife and younger daughter. The wood fired homemade pizzas were made right in front of us and didn’t disappoint. Dinner for us ran $138 for a few appetizers, a pitcher of sangria, 3 pizzas, and a macaroni and cheese entree.
Before heading to Caramba’s the first night, we tried to get into High Mountain Brewing Co but there was a 45 minute wait the first night. The second night we got right in with no wait. All of us agreed with our least favorite of the four we tried. It had some great beers on tap but the food really wasn’t very good. It was presented very well, it just didn’t taste too good. I had the chicken and ribs entree and my wife had the pork sliders. The girls had a pasta dish and the beef sliders. The check was only $105 with a couple beers but no appetizers.
The third night we went to the Old Spaghetti Factory. I would kind of describe it as a Canadian Olive Garden as their menu is ‘all inclusive’ in that they give you free with any entree purchase – bread, salad, ice cream and coffee for dessert. It wasn’t half bad – everyone enjoyed their pasta dishes. This was our 3rd favorite restaurant and was only $81 which includes a few cocktails. Great place to eat if you are on a budget.
Our final night we ate at The Mexican Corner – this was my favorite along with my older daughters. They don’t take reservations but you can put your name down and they will text you when your table is ready so you can shop in the village. We had a ~30 minute wait but it was well worth it. This may have been the best mexican food I have ever had (and I just got back from Mexico a few weeks ago).
We started with some margaritas, queso fundido, and guacamole. My youngest daughter had the fajitas, and my wife and older daughter both got the tacos (pastor & cochinita) while I had the Gringa quesadillas which was very good. This was the most expensive dinner by a few dollars ($140) but well worth it.
Things to Know
- Self parking was $30 CAD / night while valet was $34 CAD. We ended up self parking since there is no need for a car once you get there – the garage is immediately below the hotel with plenty of parking spaces.
- They tell you that skis are not permitted in the rooms which forces you to use the ski valet for $9 CAD / night per set of skis with a maximum of $27 for a room.
- SPG Gold members can opt for 500 SPG points or two cocktails (up to $30/value) in the hotel lounge.
I’m happy to cross Whistler off my ski bucket list. It is an amazing resort with top notch skiing. Whistler village was definitely the highlight – I’ve never experienced such a large and fun ski village before with so many great dining options.
While not a true ski in / ski out hotel, the Westin Whistler is in a prime location just steps from the gondola. And getting over 8¢/pt value is a steal. Also having a full kitchen in our studio saved us time and money by being able to have breakfast in our room.
But it was a pain to get to with a 6 hour flight, 3 hour time difference, and a 5+ hour car ride. We will probably head back to Utah or somewhere closer next year.
Have you been to Whistler? What did you think?