A good vacation doesn’t leave you needing another vacation. It resets your perspective on the things that weren’t working for you, reinvigorates your mindset on health and well-being and re-loads you with a supply of endorphins to get you through the next challenges that you face at work or in life.
The #skibc vacation to Whistler, BC, did all of the above for our little Revelstoke-based trio. Sure, the coast was facing a year of lower-than-normal snowfall and higher-than-normal temperatures on the coast. Yes, “spring skiing” is adored the way that it is because it comes with a feeling of “you survived the winter, now have some casual fun while the snow melts.” But, this year, we’re spring skiing in January, and anyone that truly loves to ski or snowboard also has to love the weather in any shape or form. Loving skiing means that you have respect for the way that nature dictates the season.
Also, complaining about a lack of snow and not being able to have any fun because you have to go bomb around in the sunshine is one of those problems that are pretty hard for anyone to have sympathy for. Skiing is an outside sport, skiing is for fun, and therefore, skiing really only requires two things: the outdoors and a good attitude. For the bitter snow snobs: sometimes, life gives you lemons. Guess what!? Lemonade is delicious.
How to Make Lemonade
Step One: Fresh Tracks, Celebrities and Sushi Village
In these low snow years, Fresh Tracks – an easy way to get your early morning powder fix – seems unnecessary; getting up in the early morning can even feel less attractive than staying in bed. Well, despite all, we hit up Fresh Tracks, with a mindset to enjoy a coffee, breakfast buffet and some fresh corduroy. What we forgot to think about was how amazing the sunrise would be. Clear skies don’t bring bottomless pow, but they sure do bring a gorgeous morning vista of the sun coming up over the mountains.
As we headed into the first mellow turns of the trip, we noticed a huge crowd forming at the bottom of Glacier Creek Lodge. There seemed to be some excited anticipation of whomever was next to hit the Momentum Air Bag, and so we skied closer to see who it was. Rick Mercer, the Canadian legend himself. Helmet on, without poles, Mercer was warming both himself and the crowd up for his big hit. There’s nothing that says “you’re not in Revelstoke anymore,” like seeing a celebrity hit a jump while a cameraman documents it all.
Then it was time to ski an iconic couloir, as you do, on Day One of any vacation (before you settle into chilling out and turn the pace down). Husumi requires a bit of boot packing and mini side-slip/traversing to arrive at what I would call an “intimidating entrance that gets fun way faster than it looks like it will.” In two turns, Husumi opens up into a high-walled, super-wide couloir. I invite you to turn on your imagination and ski that bad boy like the absolute legend that you are; banking wider and wider and faster and faster turns as the walls recede behind you and the guys filming you from across the valley hit you up on the radio with exuberant congratulations. This is your vacation. A little self-love isn’t going to hurt.
Before we could get our boots off and tuck into our booth at Sushi Village, a jug of Strawberry Sake Margaritas was placed on our table. “Well, it’s not like it’s snowing,” joked our host, “you may as well have a bit of fun tonight.” A river of Sashimi, Poke, Rolls, Gomae, and more Sake flooded onto our table for what felt like hours; we willingly drowned in it. It may not be Japan, but that place knows how to throw a sushi party.
Step Two: Extremely Canadian, Scandinave Spa and the Grill & Vine
Turns out, Sake does not result in hangover! But if you drink the Jumbo Sake, any trace of a hangover can be burned off in the first few hours of ski touring: exactly what we did with ski guiding operation Extremely Canadian. Chris lead us off the back of the Blackcomb Glacier and down a fast and crusty line towards a frozen lake. Across and headed up Mt. Decker. The views were incredible.
Again, the lack of snow means that the skin track is a little firmer than usual. Luckily for us, our aching knees were lined up with a 4:30 appointment at the Scandinave Spa. Now, they say that eliminating one of your senses results in the others being heightened. Well, “talking” isn’t one of the five “traditional” senses, but silencing ourselves in the spa’s hot and cold waters pulled us all on to another plane of healing (unanimous consensus; not that we were really suffering).
That night we had dinner at the Grill & Vine in the Westin with Mitchell Fawcett and Justine Nichol, who both work in PR and Marketing for the hotel. This means that they knew exactly what to eat and drink at the Grill & Vine. So, we ate and drank everything. Literally.
This meal resulted in me having to excuse myself from the table to hug the chefs. The kitchen was relatively low security and I got back there pretty easily. Sometimes, “my compliments to the chef” doesn’t cut it. Not when the venison tastes like it has been cooked by angels.
Step Three: Coast Range Heliskiing and The Bearfoot Bistro
Just when you think that nothing can top ski touring past exposed glaciers and soaking in eucalyptus steam baths, you go heli skiing. Coast Range Heliskiing and our guide Lisa Korthals provided a bluebird day of long, creamy runs in the stunning terrain behind Mt. Currie.
Of course, heli skiing was followed by dinner at the Bearfoot Bistro, involving a sinful tour of the Belvedere Vodka room an unforgettable visit to the wine cellar, where I was instructed on the techniques of sabreing open a bottle of champagne (despite being under the Vodka Room’s firm instruction that I remain red-faced, giggly and uncoordinated for the rest of the evening, I managed to sabre that bottle open. Must have had something to do with my confidence levels.)
The meal at the Bearfoot Bistro was out of this world; the waiters beyond charming, the food beyond delicious, the atmosphere beyond enchanting. We were all in complete awe of the dishes presented to us, the wine chosen to go with each dish and the flourish with which the table was cleared and refilled. The tiniest bit under the influence, yes, but mostly just caught up in one of those meals of utter luxury and decadence that you can hardly believe it is happening.
Then, yes, admittedly, we went clubbing. Oh, the shame.
Step Four: Sunny Groomers, Patio Chills, Nita Lake Lodge Apres and Alta Bistro
We were fully into #skibc vacation mode by Friday, and meeting up with Edward Dangerfield, part owner of the Alta Bistro proved to us that you don’t need to be on vacation in Whistler to still feel the occasional effects of incredible nightlife. Dangerfield had also succumbed to the “good times” of a Thursday night in Whistler, and Friday was a day of sunny groomers in the sunshine (and then the shade, due to a group head ache) on Blackcomb. We shared travel stories on the patio at the Rendezvous and Peak 2 Peak’d for a ski out and jaunt over to Nita Lake Lodge for the ultimate apres classic: Caesars. Just what the doctor ordered, the plush comfort of the couches and the spicy kick of the Caesars rejuvenated us for our meal at our new ski bud Edward “Dangey” Dangerfield’s Alta Bistro.
The Alta Bistro serves “modern French bistro food” – which, in my understanding, must mean “unbelievably delicious, sustainably sourced and impeccably presented food.” Or, it must just mean “cool” food. I say this because everything about the Alta Bistro is cool. The chefs, although hustling, seem relaxed. The food, although magnificent, is sustainable. The decor, although spot-on trendy, is unobtrusive. The waiters are all incredibly good-looking, full stop.
Step Five: Brunch, Massages, Hot Tubs and Mexican Corner
Saturday was what we called the #skibc’s “personal day.” We all had different things that we wanted to squeeze out of our last day in Whistler. After a long leisurely brunch at the Grill & Vine (where I both daily and shamelessly dined on smoked salmon and brie cheese for breakfast) we split for the day. Zoya wanted to hit up a trail run, Bruno had some more skiing in him, and I wanted to see what the big deal about the shopping in the village was all about. This rapidly lead to a drool-worthy massage at the Westin’s spa and a soak in the hot tub. When in Rome, right?
By the time dinner at the Mexican Corner rolled around, we were all kind of excited to see each other again. Recounting the different stories from the day, I realized that the best part of this vacation had been sharing it with friends. Coming full circle, we tapped into the Margaritas. Ceviche, Guacamole and Fish Tacos transported us straight to Mexico, and we sat
Step Six: Stir Rapidly
Every night we would check in at dinner with one another and reveal our own personal highlight of the day. It was crazy how many little things would have happened in a day, from a one-liner that sent us into torrents of laughter on the chairlift to a moment of yard-sale disaster (that also resulted in laughing). But all of our favourite moments had one common thread: they involved people. Which makes me think that that whole image of Whistler being home to unapproachable A-lister only types is totally wrong. Further, there was unanimity between the three of us that this year is as good as any year to go on a ski vacation. Who says you need snow to have a good time skiing? We did it for seven days straight, and we dare you to do the same.
They say the best things in life for free. Well, Whistler sure isn’t free, so good thing that they have the rest figured out.