Boots and All
Whistler Blackcomb elevates the family ski vacation.
By Justin Paul
GO Alpine Adventures plans ski trips for groups of any size. As an example, a getaway for a family of four in Whistler might include five nights in a 1,100-square-foot suite at the Four Seasons, with four days of lift tickets and ski rentals, and round-trip transfers from Vancouver Airport. “We don’t recommend car rentals,” says Alpine president Rick Reichsfeld. “The airport companies don’t provide snow tires, and you don’t need a car in the village.”
At the risk of rousing the Nutrition Police, I’d like to advocate for a steady diet of pizza and french fries. It’s a binge program – let’s call it the Peak Plan – one that’s best administered in multiday bursts. And when introduced at an early age, it results in increased coordination, enhanced confidence, and lifelong family fun.
Five out of five Whistler Blackcomb ski school instructors agree – or so I learned after dropping my daughter off for her first time on skis and hearing their code words to form snowplows (Pizza!) and parallel skis (French fries!). “See you at the end of the day,” one said, waving my wife and me off as a handful of puffballs weeble-wobbled around him. Though it was hard to picture the bunny-slope buffet ending in anything but an unsightly mash, who could argue? The previous night had brought a fresh dusting of snow, and skiers with more advanced palates were carving arcs like strands of angel-hair pasta high above.
Rising from the Coast Mountains about 75 miles north of Vancouver, Whistler sits directly in British Columbia’s winter storm track and averages 450-plus inches of snow per season – not the fluffiest powder, but nearly five feet more than the big Colorado resorts. Sizewise, the two-mountain behemoth bests its closest North American peer, Utah’s recently merged Park City/Canyons Resort, by almost 900 acres. Whistler earned fame with seasoned skiers and snowboarders drawn to its exposed faces, free-skiing terrain, and some of the more thrilling intermediate runs around. (Peel down big-mountain-style “Saddle,” and, once the butterflies settle, tell me you don’t agree.) But since hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics, the resort has focused on its family appeal, with expanded beginner and family ski areas and terrain parks for skill levels ranging from “just learning to jump” to “now seeking sponsorships” – some lift etiquette signs even read “Please Don’t Curse in Line.”…
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