Back at the London Ski & Snowboard Show in October 2010, we announced that Neill Hadden was the lucky winner of the competition to win the Ultimate Ski Holiday to Whistler & Vancouver. After several months of anticipation and record snowfall, Neill headed off on his trip…
April 2011 and the most amazing ski holiday began with a routine traverse of London on the Piccadilly Line! Terminal 5, for anyone who hasn’t been there is quite unlike the rest of Heathrow and really quite nice! So after some pre flight food and drink in the lounge we went onboard and upstairs on the 747 – bit of a private cabin up there with only 20 seats so loads of space and peace, lovely food and of course champagne.
On arrival in Vancouver, the normal slightly dazed wandering around trying to find a transfer bus or worse negotiate driving a rental car was replaced by a limousine. Of all the decadence involved this was definitely most appreciated for a very civilised transfer up to Whistler. The weather was dreadful but the driver was great and we both dozed off. By the time we arrived at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler the rain had turned to snow and this made the imposing chateau look a little like the overlook from the shining!
Inside, we checked into what was a very luxurious room on the ‘Gold Floor’ and fell asleep. The next day and indeed all the others began with a lovely buffet breakfast before we set off on the long journey to the rental shop (it was in the hotel!) Fab gear, much better than your usual rental boards – probably quite expensive but I wasn’t paying! The overnight snow and the fact that it was a Monday meant that we spent a lot of the day knee deep – even on the runs. Blackcomb is a massive hill and we only just managed to properly explore it and Whistler in 6 days on the slopes. Of course we spent some considerable time eating. On mountain was good if not spectacular standard fare but down at Creekside at the end of the improbably long and tiring Peak to Creek run is Dusty’s which you really must try – just watch the beer intake if you are going back up!
The boarding was amazing and the resort is very well managed – virtually no lift queues and very easy to navigate around the different areas – also the Peak 2 Peak gondola means you can easily spend half a day over at Whistler and then come back for the afternoon. To be honest, we both preferred Blackcomb for boarding and it seemed a little less busy – you quite often found yourself the only ones on the run. Best apres ski the Garibaldi Lift Company – again, really good food (and a lot of it) and beer!
Probably the best evening was snowmobiling up to the Crystal Hut for Fondue – apparently there was a bear about so just as well we were on pretty quick machines!
By the end of the week we still had some credit on the prepaid cards so used it up buying whistler tshirts and hoodies.
Another limo arrived to take us to Vancouver and the Fairmont Pacific Rim – what a hotel! Very luxurious and modern and a spectacular setting right by the conference centre on the waterfront where the Olympic coverage came from. The bathroom was the corner of the building with floor to ceiling windows so you kind of felt like you were in your bath floating above the city – oh yeah and there was a tv in the mirror!
We did the usual sightseeing stuff and packed alot into 2 days – Granville Island Market was a great way to start and we also managed to get across to Grouse Mountain to go ziplining although this was curtailed because there was too much snow!
Vancouver itself is a beautiful place, incredible natural environment and because of the British connection it all felt very easy and comfortable. Slightly odd experience having high tea at the Fairmont Vancouver – right beside the hotel is a big square where that day they were having a legalise marijuana demo so there was a kind of (not entirely unpleasant) smoggy haze over the whole block but once inside it was a bit like the Ritz. Surprisingly good fun and this was just before the royal wedding so there was a lot of that about. In fact the TV was almost blanket coverage – well that and Donald Trump.
Flying back business was a treat as we got a proper sleep for a change – still came back down to earth with a Piccadilly Line bump!
We were treated magnificently from start to finish and its funny how easily you adjust to all the little luxuries! I have to say though that by far the most amazing thing was the snowboarding – unbelievable quantities of snow all over the place and definitely worth a return trip – only problem is next time I’ll have to pay!