Last month I was in Whistler – also known as a young professional’s paradise. Over the last few months I’ve been test-driving the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express. To get a taste of what the card offers, I booked a long weekend away to Whistler on my hard-earned Starpoints to experience what an SPG property has to offer.
With four full days in front of me, I was ready to embrace anything and everything, hoping to live through an adventure that would leave a lasting impression and give me one hell of a story to share with all of Notable’s readers!
As luck would have it, my old roommate and close friend from my California days was also planning to be in Whistler at the same time. He’s been an Amex SPG Card member for years and has consistently praised the card and all the unique perks it offers. This added a certain level of excitement to the trip while also guaranteeing I’d have a suitable guide capable of showing me everything this stylish card is capable of (thanks Dan!).
The experience was everything it was hyped up to be, and then some. I was quickly impressed. Booking my flight was as easy as going to spgflights.com and the hotel only required a brief visit to their website.
With the flight and hotel figured out, I could focus on all the exciting stuff Whistler has to offer: skiing, eating, drinking, and relaxing. And thanks to your help figuring out which of the two itineraries I should partake in, I managed to combine the best of both worlds – maximizing the amount of awesome.
In a trip filled with highlights, here’s a list of the best of the best; the standouts, the shout-outs, and the absolutely must-dos:
1. Westin Whistler
It all starts with where you stay. Location, amenities, staff, ambiance, service – these are just a few of the key characteristics that make a hotel great instead of good. The Westin Whistler is great. The location literally is the best. Unless you build yourself a cabin on the slopes, you’re not getting any closer to the ski hill. It so easy; drop of your skis or board at the ski valet as you leave the hills and they are there, with your name on it, waiting for you the next morning.
After the ride, I’m all about a Jacuzzi to help sooth those sore legs. With two Jacuzzis to choose from, you can definitely find a warm place to lounge in, or you can switch it up and enjoy sitting in a warm bubbling hot tub while being outside in the cold weather. It’s quite the sensation; just don’t let your ears get wet! Trust me.
The staff at this Starwood property was exceptional. They were beyond friendly, upbeat, and knowledgeable. They were able to make every detail of my stay that much more enjoyable.
2. Bearfoot Bistro
Ask for Marc or Andre. I sat down to a delicious five-course pre-fixe menu consisting of options like West Coast oysters, wild Canadian scallop, braised heritage angus beef, fresh Canadian ricotta, and pumpkin sorbet. It was something else. Not to mention the delicious Pinot Gris from the Okanogan Valley that accompanied me on my culinary journey.
Now, here’s the exceptional thing about Bearfoot Bistro: the second-to-none experience doesn’t simply end with the food. Marc invited me downstairs to the wine cellar to check out the goods. Let’s just say 20,000 bottles in one location is as impressive as it sounds.
As if this wasn’t enough, Marc invited me to saber. Saber, you say? Yes, saber. It’s when you use a sword to chop the cork off a champagne bottle.
The night didn’t end here, though, ’cause you’re not fully experiencing Barefoot if you don’t spend some time in the Ice Room. Here you take a vodka tasting tour while wearing a massive parka with 15 other adventurous souls. Za vas!
3. Whistler Blackcomb
This may seem obvious, but it simply has to be said: you need to ski/snowboard your tail off to really get the most out of this place. So I skied until my legs felt like they were about to fall off and I couldn’t feel my hands. And looking back, I definitely don’t recall any pain… just the sublime experience of riding down hills that seemed to never end (30-40 minutes of straight riding from top to bottom).
I can feel my heart beating in excitement as I write this. Just make sure you bring your layers and protection for the elements; when you’re 2,000+ metres up on the mountain, the cold doesn’t mess around!
While you’re riding I suggest you team up with one of the pro photographers from Coastal Photo (you’ll recognize them from their yellow jackets at the top of the Whistler Gondola) to get your picture taken. They do both still shots and action shots –the action shots are unreal. Definitely do this. Ask for Logan or Graham.
4. Garibaldi Life Co.
Après-ski is all the rage in Whistler for a reason. You work up an appetite and a thirst when you’re riding, plus there’s a lot of “alone time” when you’re flying down the mountain, even with your ski buddies nearby. So if you want to eat, drink, and recap the day’s best runs, après-ski is a must. There are a few popular après places in the Village. My personal favourite is GLC. One of the managers, Derek, is an awesome guy in charge of an equally stellar staff. The space itself is bright and inviting and faces the beauty of the slopes. So while you and your friends are unloading your ski stories of the day you can also keep one eye on the hill and plan out your ride the next day.
5. Grill & Vine in the Westin Whistler
Brand new on the first-class Whistler food scene is Grill & Vine. Located inside the Westin Whistler, it actually opened while I was staying at the hotel. We stepped in for a tasting and everyone in my party was thoroughly impressed. Notable tip: the Nutella marshmallow pizza is a must for dessert. After all, you’ll burn those calories off in the first run tomorrow.
6. Hy’s Whistler
Now, I’m not much of a red meat eater these days, but after a long day of pushing your body to the limit some hearty protein helps get you back to where you need to be for the next day of skiing. We went to Hy’s and, my friends, let me tell you, the filet mignon I had was some next-level meat. Pair it with their popular mobile Caesar salad station and the spectacular Sonoma Cab Sauv I had. I was suddenly enjoying one of the best meals I’ve had all year.
7. Avello Spa
After retiring from the hills, there’s only one thing to do at the end of your trip: get a deep tissue massage. Right before checking out of the hotel I checked in to Avello Spa for an hour where the registered massage therapist helped get my muscles back to normal.
After my experience with the SPG Credit Card from Amex in Whistler, I completely see why my good friend from Cali has been using it for so long. Although I’ve jumped on the bandwagon a bit late, it’s definitely better late than never. Guess all I need to do now is start racking up more Starpoints by using my Card on everyday purchases so I can begin planning my next getaway while it’s still winter!
#LYNL | Live Your Notable Life
Cover Image from: Westin Whistler
*This post was sponsored by Amex Bank of Canada. The views and opinions expressed in this article, however, are purely my own.