Whistler, British Columbia, is a popular destination for outdoor activities, whether you visit in the winter to ski or snowboard, or in the warmer months to hike, canoe, cycle, golf, or swim in the surrounding lakes. It used to be that winter was Whistler’s high season — it’s North America’s largest winter sports resort — but these days, summertime is equally busy.
With Vail Resorts’ recent announcement that it’s acquiring Whistler-Blackcomb and planning new investment in the resort, there will only be more reasons to visit this mountain playground in any season. It’s just two hours from Vancouver along the spectacular Sea-to-Sky Highway that winds between the mountains and the sea.
My husband Alan and I recently made a quick summer getaway to Whistler, where we rode our bikes from farm to farm during the Slow Food Cycle event in nearby Pemberton; hiked through the woods to a new suspension bridge that leads to the Whistler “train wreck” site, where several train cars laid to rest among the trees have become an unusual canvas for graffiti artists; and checked out the recently opened Audain Art Museum, which has an excellent collection of B.C. art from 19th-century First Nations masks to contemporary carvings, paintings, and photographs.
Our base in Whistler was the Hilton Whistler Resort & Spa. Here’s the scoop about this centrally-located lodging:
The family-friendly Hilton Whistler is located in Whistler Village, about a five-minute walk from the ski lifts, and the location is a big plus.
In winter, you can take either the Whistler Village Gondola or the Blackcomb Excalibur Gondola, making both sides of the ski area equally accessible. In summer, you can ride the lifts for mountain biking, hiking, or sightseeing (take a ride on Whistler’s PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola, which connects the two mountains high above the valley floor). For golfers, the hotel is across the street from the Whistler Golf Club.
The conveniently-located hotel is just steps from the village restaurants, pubs, and shops. Because the Hilton is set back from the main Village Stroll, though, you’re spared some of the noise that revelers often make on their way back from the bars.
Hotel Facilities and Services
While still retaining hallmarks of the Hilton brand, the Whistler property also has a local sense of place, from the First Nations artwork in the lobby to the retail plaza with several art galleries, outdoor activity providers, and even an escape room adventure.
Popular with the kids, the Hilton’s outdoor pool is heated and open year round, with a large sun deck surrounding it. The hotel has an outdoor hot tub and a second hot tub inside. Also just inside, facing the pool, is the up-to-date fitness center that’s open 24 hours a day. The hotel has a tennis court as well.
The Hilton offers complimentary valet service for ski and snowboard gear and for bicycles. Parking is available in the hotel’s underground garage, although as at most Whistler hotels, it’s not inexpensive, with rates of CAD$32/night for self-parking or CAD$36 for valet service.
I didn’t have a chance to try out the treatments in the hotel’s Taman Sari Royal Heritage Spa, but the traditional Javanese massage sounds like a better après-ski relaxer than a beer.
Speaking of beer, the Hilton’s lounge is open for lunch, dinner, and drinks, with tables around the fireplace in winter and out on the patio in warm weather. TVs are everywhere, if you want to watch the hockey game or other sports events. There are two pool tables, too.
The hotel’s Cinnamon Bear Grille serves breakfast (including a hot and cold buffet for CAD$26.99) and dinner, with a big menu of crowd-pleasers, from pizzas to burgers to steaks.
Guest Rooms and Amenities
Spread across two buildings, the eight-story North Tower and the five-floor South Tower, the Hilton’s 287 guest rooms are among the largest in Whistler, with the biggest standard rooms measuring 550 square feet (51 square meters). Even the smallest rooms, at 325 square feet (30 square meters), would be comfortable for a couple.
All rooms have light wood furnishings, flat-screen TVs, complimentary Wi-Fi and local phone calls, and coffeemakers. While standard rooms don’t come with fridges, you can request that one be brought to your room.
Studio suites, with either a king or queen bed, have kitchenettes equipped with a microwave, fridge, stovetop cooking unit, and even a handy mini dishwasher.
We stayed in an extremely spacious junior suite (600 square feet, or 56 square meters), which not only had a sitting area with a fireplace, but also a full kitchen, with enough dishes, pots and pans, and utensils to cook dinner for a family.
If you need even more space, the Hilton has one-, two-, and three-bedroom units. Alternatively, many of their standard and studio rooms have connecting doors to create mini-suites, handy for families.
Rates and Other Details
Even if you don’t usually stay in “chain” lodgings, it’s worth considering the Hilton Whistler. The spacious rooms and central location are big pluses for an active mountain holiday.
Double room rates at the Hilton Whistler Resort & Spa start at CAD$141/night in low season. Expect to pay at least $450/night during the peak winter months. You can compare rates and book through one of the many booking sites such as Hilton.com, Travelocity or Expedia as well.
Hotel feature by Vancouver-based travel, food, and feature writer Carolyn B. Heller. Tourism Whistler and the Hilton Whistler Resort & Spa hosted my stay for review purposes. Photos © Carolyn B. Heller.