With more than 8,000 acres of skiable terrain and 200+ trails (not to mention access to incredibly backcountry), Whistler-Blackcomb is North America's largest ski resort, and the town supporting these miles of ski runs is a stunner. Whistler is a friendly, attractive, user-friendly community with three main villages accessing the different parts of the mountains, and a wealth of accommodations, from grand resorts to value-minded condo hotels and rentals to several cozy B&Bs. The town that hosts one of the top gay ski events in the world, Whistler WinterPride, which takes place in late January, is long been an LGBT-welcoming destination - even beyond WinterPride, lots of gays and lesbians vacation here. It's worth adding that Whistler is also great fun outside ski season - it's a fun place for hiking, biking, spa getaways, and foodie-related activities in summer and fall, when this mountain town just 77 miles north of Vancouver abounds with cool festivals. Here's an alphabetical listing of hotels, resorts, and B&Bs in and around the Whistler region that are especially popular with the GLBT set.
During the most recent Whistler WinterPride events, this whimsically decorated, eco-friendly, and extremely pet-welcoming Aava Whistler (4005 Whistler Way, 800-663-5644) has been the official hotel of gay ski week. Indeed, it's a gay fave any time of year, thanks in large part to the fun and personable staff, the location on the quieer but still convenient west side of the main Whistler Village (steps from some fun nightspots and restaurants), and its attractive contemporary aesthetic. The most interesting of the 192 accommodations are, by far, the executive suites, each of which is individually decorated, and can sleep an extra adult or a couple of kids on a pullout sofa bed (the latter is also true for Junior Suites and Two Bedroom Suites, which have a king bed in each bedroom as well). All rooms have Aveda amenities, standing showers or soaker tubs (ask if the latter is important to you), mini-fridges, and free Wi-Fi. Guests can enjoy the outdoor pool and hot tub, a fitness room, and a sauna in the hotel's health club. Canada House restaurant specializes in foods sourced locally, plus craft beers, BC wines, and the like. National favorites like poutine are featured.
It's an easy 4-mile drive just north of Whistler Village to reach the rambling, upscale Cedar Springs Lodge B&B (8106 Cedar Springs Rd., 604-938-8007), which is right by beautiful Green Lake and also quite close to the fabulous spa and outdoor tubs day resort, Scandinave. If staying just outside the hubbub of the ski action is appealing to you, this relaxed inn makes good sense. You can mingle with guests or friends on the large deck with a sunken hot tub, chill out in front of the fireplace in the handsome common room with home theater, and take advantage of full concierge services provided by the inn: free shuttle to the lifts and door-to-door ski rental pickup, and help with booking any activity that interests you, from dining to zip-lining to mountain biking. Rooms are spacious and thoroughly upscale, with beautiful handcrafted pine-log furniture; there's everything from a deluxe honeymoon site to a couple of less spendy rooms that share a bath. The professional photography of innkeeper Joern Rohde hangs throughout the lodge; his wife, Jackie, prepares the opulent, multicourse breakfasts each morning, which are included in the rates.
The moderately priced Coast Blackcomb Suites (4899 Painted Cliff Rd., 604-905-3400) is a nice option if you're more of a Blackcomb than Whistler Mountain kinda skier - this 186-suite, slope-side property is just up the hill from Blackcomb's Wizard Express and the bars and restaurants at the base. It's a little out of the way for shopping and partying in Whistler Village, but the free Village Shuttle can zip you quickly back and forth. Rooms have basic kitchen facilities, gas fireplaces, balconies, and free high-speed Internet - they have a fairly standard but comfortable chain hotel look (as you might expect of a Coast Hotels property), but considering the reasonable rates, these are pretty nice rooms. Even better, there's a very large nice heated pool and hot tubs (and a gym). Although there's no restaurant, you can by snacks and basic groceries at the little shop on-site.
A perfect base camp is you'd prefer to stay in the slightly less action-packed though still very convenient Creekside Village section of Whistler, Evolution Whistler (2020 London La., 888-583-8046) is a ski-in, ski-out property that's also steps from the handful of fun bars and restaurants in this part of town. A slight advantage is that it's the closest of the ski villages to Vancouver; a disadvantage is that it takes more time from here to reach the Blackcomb Mountain part of town, although the construction of 2008 of the Peak 2 Peak Gondola has made it much easier to get between Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. If you do choose Creekside, Evolution is a wonderful place to stay - this all-suites property is stylish, fresh-looking, and airy, with one-, two-, and three-bedroom units, all with nicely designed kitchens (top-of-the-line appliances), washers and dryers, balconies, fireplaces, and plenty of other perks that makes this an especially pleasing option for longer visits. In addition to easy slope access, you'll find other areas on property for fun - a game room, heated outdoor pool and hot tubs, and an exercise room. There's no restaurant, but gay-friendly hangouts like Dusty's Bar & BBQ and Southside Diner is a short walk away.
Although it's a contemporary property in Whistler's Upper Village, the Fairmont Chateau Whistler (4599 Chateau Blvd., 604-938-8000) is designed in the style of Canada's other grand, chateauesque hotels that are part of the Canadian Pacific Railway tradition. With its soaring central tower and steep-pitched roofs, this posh resort at the foot of Blackcomb's Wizard Express chairlift is a paragon of thoughtful service, old-world grandeur, and top-flight amenities. The hotel is home to the fantastic Vida Spa, which includes one of the best fitness centers of any property in Whistler (personal training is available); guests can also play on the hotel's two tennis courts during the warmer months. There's also an outdoor heated pool (with food and drink service from a patio bar). Just off the lobby, the warm and lodge-like Mallard Lounge is a classic spot for cocktails and light dining; in summer grab a seat on the terrace. The hotel's two restaurants, the more formal Grill Room and casual Wildflower Restaurant both serve well-prepared, seasonally inspired cuisine; Sunday brunch is a big to-do in the Wildflower Restaurant. With 550 rooms and suites, the Fairmont is one of the larger properties in Whistler - this translates to lots of options (in terms of views, layout, size), but if you're a fan of smaller boutique properties, you'll feel more comfortable elsewhere.
A sister hotel to the similarly inviting Listel Hotel in downtown Vancouver, the 98-room Listel Hotel Whistler (4121 Village Green, 800-663-5472) is on the edge of the main Whistler Village, within walking distance of shopping, dining, and lifts, but with a slightly mellower and much more intimate vibe than some of the bigger properties smack in the center of the action. The hotel is home to one of the best restaurant's in town, Bearfoot Bistro Restaurant & Champagne Lounge, which is a great place for dining and sipping bubbles with friends - they're a major hangout during Whistler WinterPride. Guest rooms comes in standard and suite configurations - they're homey and upscale but unfussy, with large windows (that you can open, for some of that fresh mountain air), free Wi-Fi, and in-room refrigerators. There's no pool, but the Listel has a hot tub and saunas. Continental breakfast is included at this pet-welcoming hotel.
The unpretentiously luxurious Nita Lake Lodge (2131 Lake Placid Rd., 604-966-5700) enjoys one of the most relaxing and serene settings of any hotel in Whistler - it's not slope-side, but the lower of the three ski village, Creekside, is just a 10-minute walk or free five-minute shuttle ride away. Some regulars of Nita Lake enjoy being just a few steps away from the bustle of the village, and even if you find that a slight inconvenience, consider that rates at this elegant property with a full-service spa, outstanding lake-view restaurant, and inviting rooms and public spaces are competitive with a number of ski-in, ski-out hotels that aren't nearly as nice. The 77 rooms (all of them suites) here are gorgeous and spacious, starting at 500 square feet for a studio with a basalt-rock fireplace and two-person deep soaking tub, and ranging to 1,060-square feet for the Two Bedroom Suites, which has second loft bedrooms on the upper floor. It's worth shelling out a few extra dollars for a lake view. There are also a few premier suites (the 1,415 Rainforest Suite, the 1,925 Glade Suite with 20-foot ceilings - nice options for a very special vacation). The spa and athletic facilities here are a major draw - all kinds of soothing treatments are available in the spa, which also has a yoga studio and a fitness center with personal trainers. The main restaurant, Aura, is a warm and snazzy space serving exceptional BC regional cuisine; in summer, dine on the patio. Cure is the fireplace-warmed apres-ski bar, which has also has a large patio popular in summer. And Fix is handy for pastries, coffee, and quick gourmet bites on the go.
Situated in the picturesque town of Squamish, which is en route from Vancouver to Whistler, the cushy and comfy Nu-Salya B&B Chalet (2014 Glacier Heights Pl. Garibaldi Highlands, Squamish, 877-604-9005) is ideal if you're planning to explore not just Whistler but the Sea to Sky Highway. Squamish is at the northern end of Howe Sound, which extends north from the Georgia Strait - it's also at sea level, meaning it's quite a bit warmer than Whistler, 35 miles north. The town is also more affordable than Whistler, or, for that matter, Vancouver, which is 45 miles south. Nu-Salya is known for its stunning interior, which includes many works by First Nations artists. With its peaked roofs, timber frame, and huge windows, it's also beautiful from the outside. Rooms are spacious and filled with light, and have hardwood floors, pine and log accents and furnishings, and colorful textiles and fabrics. One has an electric fireplace, another a two-person soaking tub in the bathroom, and another a Jacuzzi tub right in the bedroom. Guests can relax in a stunning common "great room" with a 40-foot-tall river-rock fireplace, and on an inviting patio with hot tub. Friendly innkeepers Bill and Susan can offer ideas about what to see and do in the area. A three-course breakfast is included.
Both of the Pan Pacific properties at Whistler are right in the center of the main village, but Pan Pacific Whistler Mountainside (4320 Sundial Crescent, 604-905-2999) directly fronts the Skiers Plaza - this all-suite hotel is practically touching the Blackcomb Excalibur Gondola, which is not more than a two-minute walk from the Whistler Village Gondola. If your priority is getting up on either mountain immediately each morning, and then quickly back to your room, the Pan Pacific Whistler Mountainside is a sure bet - it's the closest hotel to these two gondolas. Of course, this also means it's smack in the center of the village action: people, restaurants, bars, shops. Social butterflies love it; others might consider the Pan Pacific's Village Centre property, just a short walk north but slightly more insulated from crowds. With top-notch, personable service and spacious suites that are decorated in a more classic, lodge-like style than the thoroughly modern rooms at its sister hotel, the Whistler Mountainside is thoroughly comfy, and all units have kitchens, free Wi-Fi, fireplaces, and lots of room to spread out (they're very popular with families and groups of friends traveling together). The hotel's Dubh Linn Gate Irish Pub is a fun spot for apres-ski and casual dining, and there's a cardio-fitness center, two saltwater whirlpool tubs and a heated pool, and a eucalyptus steam room.
One of two Whistler hotels that are part of the ultra-swank Pan Pacific brand, the Pan Pacific Whistler Village Centre (4299 Blackcomb Way, 604-966-5575) is just a five-minute walk from it's sister hotel, the Whistler Mountainside, and but a 10-minute walk from the Blackcomb Excalibur and Whistler Village gondolas - the hotel is also right by the Valley Trail, the handy pedestrian walkway that leads over Fitzsimmons Creek to Upper Village (it's maybe a 15-minute walk). This means that above all else, one huge draw to staying at this hip, mod lodge is convenience - you're never more than a quick stroll to countless restaurants, bars, shops, and outfitters. The amenities at the Pan Pacific Whistler Village Center include a fabulous heated saltwater pool (plus sauna and whirlpools), a fitness room, and a nice restaurant - Pacific Bistro - in which a breakfast buffet is served each morning (it's included in the rates, which are on the steep side as Whistler goes, but in line with properties offering comparable amenities and service). There's also a fun Irish pub, with a good-size patio, Dubh Linn Gate, which is close by at the Mountainside property. From knowledgeable concierge to friendly desk staff, the team here pays close attention to helping guests find everything they need during their stay. There are just 83 suites, and they're outfitted the way you might expect a posh ski lodge of some wealthy, design-driven friend (you're fortunate of to have): each has a kitchen with granite counters and state-of-the-art appliances, tasteful indirect and recessed lighting, fireplace, smartly equipped bathroom, balconies, and plenty of big windows - the look is clean, uncluttered, and sleek.
The Pinnacle Hotel Whistler (4319 Main St., 604-938-3218) is in the northern section of the main Whistler Village, close to Whistler Olympic Plaza, the sleek and contemporary Whistler Public Library (hey, there's no shame in curling up with a good book when you're in Whistler - it's not all partying and racing down the mountain!) - it's also home to the intimate farm-to-table Alta Bistro and stylish modern Italian restaurant, Quattro. With its gabled roofline and casually lodge-like vibe, the Pinnacle is a relaxed but central choice that stands out for its spacious accommodations, each of which is a studio with a well-outfitted kitchen, a gas fireplace, free Wi-Fi, balconies (try to get one with a mountain view), and a deep Jacuzzi tub in the bathroom. Rooms are upper floors often have peaked cathedral ceilings - these are especially airy and bright, and feel a bit more spacious than the units on other floors. Room decor could use a little luster - it feels a bit early '90s, but this is a comfortable place to stay with more reasonable rates than a number of properties in town that don't have such extensive in-room amenities. The staff is friendly, too. Note the outdoor pool, good-size exercise room, very modest parking charges, and pet-friendly policy.