Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Snow Shoe In, Bike Out: Great Deals in Whistler

Taken today (snow is in the foreground)
Here in Whistler, Canada (where I am currently), the seasons don't change gradually. They slam up against one another with the fury of a black bear defending her cubs (more on black bears tomorrow).

This is particularly true this year, as 2011 has been Whistler's third snowiest season on record. So the people around me are dressing and behaving in what can only be called a schizophrenic fashion. Those heading to the top of the mountains are dressed in hats and windbreakers, eager to take advantage of the still quite viable late season snowshoeing. At the middle to the bottom of the mountain, shorts and t-shirts reigned today, as avid mountain
bikers, hikers, zip-liners and shoppers headed out in the mild weather (in the sun it's a good 75 degrees Fahrenheit)  to enjoy Whistler's primo summer sports.

The yin yang nature of the season will be celebrated this Saturday with the ironically titled "Crud to Mud" festival, a yearly event in which hundreds of sportos ski down the slopes until they hit dirt, at which point they grab mountain bikes and barrel the rest of the way down.

So there's a heckuva a lot more potential fun for the money in May and June and that's not a theoretical statement. Restaurants here, through a springtime "Dine Whistler" program offer prix fixe menus for prices well below their high season rates (I had a superb prix fixe at Alta Bistro last night--charcuterie plate, goat cheese salad and rainbow trout for CAD$19).

Hotel rates are also significantly lower with ten very nice properties in ten going for CAD$100 or less--several of them are in the 80's for the night. I'm staying at a very cozy place called the Coast Blackcomb Suites where the beds are comfy, the decor is right on for the venue (think lots of wood and trim of big, cut stones) and the price right now starts at just CAD$101 per night. Come July, the Coast will cost $130 a night or more with similar upticks in the prices for other area hotels.

According to the folks I've quizzed, these prices should stay in place through the end of June, as will the snow which is mounded up even towards the base of the slopes, thanks to the furious winter this area just endured.

And there are few more eye-poppingly gorgeous places on earth. So far, my time here has been well night idyllic.

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