Just returned from a fantastic ski trip in Whistler with 6 friends. Being used to package ski trips to Europe, we looked initially at hotels via tour operators but found that to be an expensive and inflexible option with room supplements and a lack of half board options. We therefore explored booking our own trip and found [---]a useful website with an excellent town map showing the location of all the accommodation and shops in the resort.
We eventually found Snowbird via [---] we booked unit 106 which turned out to be the best located of the block for access to the bus stop and hot tub. It is located in the Blackcomb Benchlands area which is about 15 minutes walk to Upper Village and 25 minutes to Whistler main resort in good conditions. However, the free and absolutely reliable Whistler bus shuttle service stops literally outside the block and runs every 10 minutes, a much better option for getting to the ski areas and to town. In fact, this fantastic bus service renders the location of your accommodation in Whistler irrelevant – I think we had less walking to and from the ski lifts than most people who stayed in hotels in the main town – 10 metres to the bus stop from our apartment and 50 metres to the lifts from the bus stop.
We found allura to be professional and efficient with a free phone number from many countries including the UK, although you can deal with them just through the internet. You get a lot of detail about the apartments on the website and you can communicate directly with the owners of the properties, which helps to put your mind at rest when booking accommodation overseas. I found the owners of unit 106 really friendly and helpful with insider’s tips about where to buy groceries, etc. If you book accommodation with allura, you also get the additional bonus of savings on lift passes, equipment rental and a free full day ski lesson as well as discounts on lessons.
Like other accommodation in Whistler, the Snowbird block is built in wood to blend in sympathetically with the beautiful surroundings. The only problem we had was that the Snowbird sign was obscured behind a 3m snow bank when we arrived and it took us awhile driving up and down the road in the dark to find it. There is a pedestrian entrance to the upper level in the apartment while there is an entrance via the parking garage (key is mailed to you beforehand to access this) downstairs, making it easy to get your luggage in and out of the apartment on arrival and departure.
The unit inside has been newly refurbished – lovely wooden floors, under floor heating, big fireplace, first class appliances in the fully equipped kitchen including little luxuries like a dishwasher, coffee grinder and brewer, 2 x 37 inch plasma tellies in the living room and one bedroom, 5 CD player and huge washing machine and dryer. There are a lot of basic food staples, washing powder and detergent in the apartment for the use of guests. Linen is also included as is free wi-fi internet access. The only omission which would have been useful for first time visitors to Whistler like ourselves would have been a little pack with some basic information about the resort but we soon picked up lots of free information leaflets.
The bedrooms slept 2, 2, and 3 respectively and there were 2 luxurious bathrooms, one with a jacuzzi bath and the other with a steam shower. There were little lovely touches like illuminated bathroom switches, which is very helpful when you’re making a visit to the bathroom in the middle of the night. There are 2 balconies, which would be great in the summer or warmer evenings for drinks. One of them overlooks the 20 person outdoor hot tub, a perfect place to soak and loosen up those tired muscles after a hard day on the slopes. The apartment we were in was very handily placed right next door to the hot tub – some other guests had to dash quite a way to and from their apartments.
We did have ski in/out access from Blackcomb mountain, which did involve crossing one road but the bus service was so good that we used that instead to access the ski areas.
We had some nice personal touches like a big box of welcome liqueur chocolates and the owner rung us to check if we had settled in. We would definitely rebook this same apartment.
Whistler main village and Village North are one combined area - very well planned and well laid out with lots of retail therapy available as well as cuisine from all over the world. It has been developed since the 1980s and the organised structure to town reflects this, unlike some of the haphazard European ski resorts. There are cinemas, supermarkets and internet cafes in town. All the trees in town looked lovely decorated with lights. We didn’t have time to enjoy the many off-piste distractions like the many spas, a tube park, Ziptrek, forest walks, snowmobiling, helicopter rides, bungee jumps, etc. There’s a free Fire and Ice show every Sunday evening at the gondola base. Upper Village is smaller but Whistler main resort is easily accessible by shuttle.
The 2 mountains offer every conceivable type terrain of skiing you would want. We had intended to try cat-skiing but with the record breaking snowfall in Whistler this year, we found an abundance of fresh powder everywhere in the main ski area. The terrain parks are well organised with signs marking the size of jumps/rails/boxes, making it a lot safer for us terrain park novices. The queues were civilised and well organised with single person lines making sure that all the lifts are always used to full capacity. We were there over Martin Luther weekend, one of the American bank holiday weekends and never had to queue more than 10 minutes even over this busy period and most of the time, the queues were mainly walk-on. The main lack of capacity we found was in the restaurants and booking is essential.
We also found the ski school instruction to be excellent with English speaking instructors and smaller classes leading to more progress. Our instructor for the free lesson was excellent and we booked private lessons with her. This enabled us to tailor the lesson to our needs exactly.
Whistler is very proud to have won the 2010 Winter Olympics and all over the resort, there were lots of reminders as the resort gears up. There is a lot of development at Creekside base, the finishing area for the downhill events – we couldn’t resist a blast down the men’s downhill and ladies super G courses. There is also a lot of work along the stunning Sea to Sky Highway from Vancouver to upgrade it, which can lead to delays but the road works have been suspended over the winter.
It’s been a dream to ski Whistler for a long time and it lived up to the dream. Snowbird is an excellent accommodation option and I look forward to returning there.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.