All I can say, after a quick, solo escape to the Four Seasons Resort Whistler, is, “Pamper me, Four Seasons, please, pamper me more.”
It’s not that this posh mountain hotel didn’t spoil me enough during my brief stay in North America’s largest snow-sports resort.
It’s just that a woman could get used to this sort of attention.
What sets the Four Seasons apart from any other good luxury hotel is its polished and solicitous service, along with the many little extras that are included in the rates.
As soon as you book your reservation, the hotel e-mails a welcome packet that includes directions, local weather, resort information, and a preview of events happening at Whistler during your stay. A nice touch.
From the time I left my car with the valet and walked to the front desk, the staff on duty already knew my name. “Welcome, Ms. Heller.” “How was your trip, Ms. Heller?” “Is this your first visit with us, Ms. Heller?” Another nice touch.
Even when I phoned housekeeping at 10 pm to report a minor plumbing malfunction, the cheerful maintenance man was at my door in less than five minutes and resolved the problem with equal speed.
The 273 guest rooms are spacious and attractive, in an earthy, ski-lodge-y kind of way, with gas fireplaces, mini-fridges, flat-screen TVs, and wi-fi. The bathrooms are big, too, with double sinks, glass-enclosed showers, and soaker tubs.
The beds are comfy, with down duvets and good reading lights, and the closets are large enough to hold ski clothes, dinner out clothes, and more pairs of shoes than I could imagine owning, let alone packing for a weekend trip. The staff will shine those shoes overnight, too — complimentary, of course.
You’ll even find a stash of embossed stationery in your room. Actual paper stationery — how quaint!
The least expensive rooms are smaller units on the lower floors; the upper-floor rooms have views to the mountains. Families might want to splash out in a one-bedroom suite, with a sofabed in the living room; the “deluxe” versions of these suites have an extra bathroom with a shower.
Off-season rack rates start at CAD$225. On mid-winter weekends, expect to pay at least CAD$425 for a double room. Check their website for packages and special promotions.
Really big families — or celebs, business execs, and others with correspondingly big budgets — can book a huge suite in the adjacent “private residences” building. Twenty of these privately-owned units, which range from two to four bedrooms with full-kitchens, washer-dryers, and expansive patios, are part of the hotel’s rental pool. Guests in the private residences have access to all the hotel’s amenities, as well as a separate swimming pool and hot tub. Save your pennies, though — the private residences rent for CAD$3,000 (and up) per night.
If I had stayed longer, I’d have splashed around in the heated outdoor pool, sweated out my cares in the eucalyptus steam bath, or soaked in one of the three hot tubs. I’d have taken a yoga class (offered free to guests when at least two people sign up), or booked a massage in the serene on-site spa. As it was, all I managed was a good night’s sleep, a hot bath, and a short workout in the 24-hour fitness room, which has several treadmills, stationary bikes, and elliptical trainers, along with an assortment of Nautilus weight machines.
Although you can walk to the Blackcomb base lifts in about five minutes (or hop on the complimentary shuttle), the Four Seasons, which is located in Whistler’s Upper Village, isn’t a ski-in, ski-out property. But the resort makes up for it, by offering a complimentary ski concierge service. They’ll stow your gear at the concierge station in front of the lifts and have it waiting for you in the morning. When you come off the mountain, simply leave your boots and boards or skis with the concierge staff, who’ll dry off your stuff and store it till you hit the slopes the next day.
If you don’t want to make the 15-minute walk into the main village to eat or shop, the resort offers a complimentary car service that can take you around town.
The hotel also offers a variety of amenities for families traveling with young children, including kid-sized robes and slippers and souvenir stuffed animals. During the winter holidays, movies, crafts, and other activities help entertain the youngsters when they’re not on the slopes.
Were I a serious carnivore, I’d head for the hotel’s “modern steakhouse,” Sidecut, where you choose your preferred cut of meat, then select one of eight housemade spice rubs and accompanying sauces. (Personally, though, I’d lay in a supply of pudgie pies — a rich brioche pastry stuffed with veggie combos like potato, caramelized onion, and feta cheese — from Purebread Bakery down the road.)
The Four Seasons is quieter than the heart-of-the-village lodgings, so you’re less likely to be bothered by rowdies heading home from the pub. The resort has its own sedate apres-ski spot in the library-style Fifty Two 80 Bar, which also offers nightly meal specials, ranging from Slow Food Sunday to Wine Wednesday to BBQ Thursday.
Another benefit of the location is that it’s just across the street from Whistler’s excellent aboriginal museum, the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre, a modern multimedia exploration of the two First Nations that call Whistler their ancestral home. It’s definitely worth a visit.
If I were the fussy sort, I might prefer that the hotel swap out the standard drip coffeemakers for an in-room espresso machine, and I’d have appreciated a bedtime bonbon with the turndown service.
But these are minor quibbles. In fact, the staff continued to look after me even as I was leaving. When the valet brought up my car, he made sure to bring a bottle of chilled water for the road, sending my properly pampered self back to Vancouver, and — all too soon — back to real life.
Check prices online at Hotels.com
Hotel review by Vancouver-based travel, food, and feature writer Carolyn B. Heller, who’s also the author of the new travel guide, Moon Handbooks: Ontario. Photos © Carolyn B. Heller. I was a guest of the Four Seasons Resort Whistler.