“Do I pack golf shoes or snow gear?” my wife, Terri, asked. “Yes,” I replied. We have a thing for shoulder-season travel, so last year in early October we headed to Whistler. It is the Pacific Northwest after all, and the weather could do most anything. And “it’s [Canadian] Thanksgiving,” I added as an enticement. I hoped that meant poutine — French fries, cheese curds and brown gravy — instead of mashed potatoes and stuffing. The tab: We spent $229 a night for three nights at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, which included a $38 daily food and beverage credit, plus taxes and fees, and $150-plus for starters, two entrees and dessert (no booze) at Hy’s.
Whistler has become an easy add-on — and sometimes a stand-alone destination — to our frequent forays to Seattle, about a 4½-hour drive. This time we stowed away at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, where service and comfort of a high order meld with a high-country wonderland. We were laden with bikes and golf clubs, and came and went frequently, so the valet staff got our applause for quickly stowing and retrieving our gear.
The heart of the massive mountain is Whistler Village, a quick stroll from the Fairmont, where you can chow down, from ethnic to down home. We enjoyed the avocado breakfast wraps at Ingrid’s Village Cafe and brick oven-fired pizza at the Brewhouse, notable among the affordable eateries. We did make sure to eat at least one high-brow meal at legendary Canadian steakhouse Hy’s, where the loin strip and filet were sizzled to a perfect vivid pink.
“What are you guys doing?” I asked folks queued up outside the Blackcomb Day Lodge on an otherwise uneventful fall morning. In Whistler, the three days before Thanksgiving (Oct. 8 here) means the Turkey Sale. The annual preseason sale of ski and snowboard gear of land-rush proportions attracts not only Vancouverites but also those who fly into Vancouver and then make the 90-minute drive. Skiers are nuts.
THE LESSON LEARNED
Don’t think of Whistler — or any Western mountain fun town — in terms of winter or summer. Shoulder season is calling, even though these transitional times require more thought when packing and some season-specific activities aren’t available. Golf is our fun — and with four peaks-all-around courses, it’s a legit spot for a golf getaway. We also biked on mile after mile of striped roadways, dedicated paths and trails, and sampled the waters at Scandinave Spa, a Euro-inspired retreat with open-air, temperature-varied pools tucked into the firs.
Fairmont Chateau Whistler, 4599 Chateau Blvd., Whistler, Canada; (604) 938-8000. Wheelchair accessible.
Hy’s Steakhouse, 4308 Main St., Whistler, Canada; (604) 905-5555. Wheelchair accessible.
Ingrid’s Village Cafe, 102-4305 Village Stroll, Whistler, Canada; (604) 932-7000. Wheelchair accessible.
Brewhouse, 4355 Blackcomb Way, Whistler, Canada; (604) 905-2739. Wheelchair accessibility.
Scandinave Spa , 8010 Mons Road, Whistler, Canada; (604) 935-2424. Limited wheelchair accessibility.