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Is Whistler Worth It?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
To keep going through the summer, we're discussing where to ski next season. We could go to the French/Austrian/Swiss/Italian Alps (1.5 hours plane journey, 1-3 hours drive). Alternatively, we could go to Whistler (10 hour flight, 9(?) hour time difference, a little more than double the cost). I read brochures which tell me it's so much better it's worth it.

Are they telling the truth?
post #2 of 25
Although some say Whistler is too commercial, it is a great value, at least with the US to Canadian exchange rate. Once you are there, everything is either within walking, or a tram ride distance. You also have these 2 huge mountains right next to each other, which gives you lots of terrain to choose from. The 3 day Ski Espirit are a good deal of fun.

A few years ago we went to Bormio in Italy. Obviously not as big as Whistler, but incredible value. Also, the town is not a ski town, but a medieval Italian Village, which made it an interesting trip. Awful ski school though, but that should not be the point of the trip.
post #3 of 25
In our summer it is...
but then again- it is worth going most places in our summer
post #4 of 25
Frances:

Exactly what do your brochures say about the difference between Whistler and The Alps?
post #5 of 25
Yeah..

Like to know that one to.. What is the actual difference between the alps and US (western) mountains?

Heard a story about lighter (dryer) powder in the US once, but other than that I would have no idea, as I've only skied in Europe (France, Italy and Austria).

Anyone?

Dentist (no longer an epicski virgin [img]smile.gif[/img] )
post #6 of 25
Thread Starter 
I can't find the rhapsodic review I remember seeing earlier (it's at home somewhere, I'm at work). This is from Crystal's brochure:

Quote:
Here, amidst the towering coastal mountains of British Columbia, is a ski village unique in North America.The style is distinctively West Coast, the mood relaxed, and the skiing spectacular! In the attractive pedestrianised village centre, winner of several design awards, you will be charmed by the pleasant walkways and plazas with stylish shops and a huge choice of great bars, clubs and wide variety of restaurants. Designed by skiers, for skiers, everything you could possibly want from a ski holiday is here and it's right on your doorstep!
I keep seeing phrases like 'consistently voted the No. 1 ski resort in N America', but I also see there are 33 lifts. Not sure if this is the best comparison, but Espace Killy has 97 & the 3 valleys 198.

I've heard it gets very cold i.e. around -20 C. I've skied in that temperature once, and enjoyed it a lot less than my normal experience of around freezing.

I can't compare, because I've only been skiing in the Alps. Someone here will help!
post #7 of 25
I've only skied at Whistler in march, and it was not cold at all. The fluke year we were at Bormio, it was icier than your average New England slope.
post #8 of 25
Quote:
Originally posted by Frances:
I've heard it gets very cold i.e. around -20 C. I've skied in that temperature once, and enjoyed it a lot less than my normal experience of around freezing.
It typically isn't that cold in Whistler. Whistler is very near the Pacific Ocean and the weather is moderate because of this. According to Whistler's website, the average low and high temps in January are -8 and -2 C in the village and -12 and -5 C in the alpine. Wind can obviously be a factor above treeline. It can get cold, but typically it isn't bad.

I think Whistler is great, but I can't compare it against the Alps because I've never skied there. I can tell you that I've heard many Europeans tell me they like Whistler better.

Someone else mentioned Ski Esprit, and I'll second the recommendation. Lots of fun. It is very popular with Europeans, too.
post #9 of 25
Brad & Monika Spalding are running a SLAP course in Whistler this year - that should be good. I had one of their instructor trainers(from the Austrian course) as an instructor & he was GREAT!
post #10 of 25
Hi Frances,
I spent 5 weeks in Whistler last Jan/Feb doing a long ski performance course. As I'm also from Blighty most of my skiing has been in France, Austria, Italy and a bit in Canada and US prior to Whistler. It really depends what your priorities are. Here are my personal pros and cons - just my opinions:

Pros
It snowed nearly every day I was there so the conditions were great.
Resort is well designed and convenient.
Resort staff were friendly and helpful.
Blackcomb had some great tree runs.
The instruction was high quality (i had level 4 instructors for the 5 weeks) and in english!!
Good nightlife - didn't get bored in 5 weeks of eating out.

Cons
Far too many Brits and Aussies - I did actually want to meet some Canadians (I realise I was contributing to that problem just by being there!)
We had quite a bit of rain at resort level which is pretty pants when you come from Manchester!
Resort lacked character - bit disneyland
Terrain not as varied and difficult as 3vallees
The journey was horrible compared to a short hop to Alps
It was REALLY busy at the weekends.

In summary I can see why it's won so many accolades and enjoyed my time there but personally I prefer smaller resorts where you can meet locals and feel at home. I particularly like Fernie in Canada and La Plagne in France.
Next year I'm going to Courcheval Le Praz. It's linked by gondola to the 3vallees area but is a traditional, small village with just a few bars and restaurants - fingers crossed the alps have a good season! [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #11 of 25
Quote:
Originally posted by cappo:
Next year I'm going to Courcheval Le Praz. It's linked by gondola to the 3vallees area but is a traditional, small village with just a few bars and restaurants - fingers crossed the alps have a good season! [img]smile.gif[/img]
Offcourse they'll have a good season.. And the advantage of France this year will be it won't be too crowded after last years snow-disaster. Lot's of people will choose for swiss or Austria.

Dentist
post #12 of 25
Frances,

I'm no expert on the Alps (never been there) or Whistler (only been there once for 4 days) but looking at the travel time (2-3X longer plus huge jet lag from time zone changes) and cost difference (2X more) between the two it just doesn't make sense, from a practical standpoint, to go to Whistler.

Since I've never been to the Alps I can't really comment on the skiing there, but from what I've heard, people say the skiing at Whistler is as close to European skiing as you can find in N. America. That means Europe is the standard to which we measure N. American skiing by. Whistler is great skiing and a great town, but there are dozens of European ski towns and mountains that dwarf Whistler.

Unless you have a sentimental reason for really wanting to go to Whistler, it just seems to make sense to stick with Europe. That's my 2 cents.
post #13 of 25
Thread Starter 
No particularly sentimental reason. I have met too many people recently who say 'Now I've been to Whistler I'm never going skiing anywhere else'. But on reflection I've had people say the same thing about quite a few other, rather closer, places!

Roll on December. I've booked a week off work before Christmas to ski, so we definitely need lots and lots of early snow.
post #14 of 25
Quote:
Originally posted by Frances:
No particularly sentimental reason. I have met too many people recently who say 'Now I've been to Whistler I'm never going skiing anywhere else'. But on reflection I've had people say the same thing about quite a few other, rather closer, place
You know I felt that, at a time. But people thought I was nuts when I said I liked Sunshine better. If you are not in ski school, the gondola lines at Whistler are horrific. To add insult to injury, one year, they had a Neil Diamond look/sound alike "performing" for the whole hour wait!
post #15 of 25
Since Frances wouldn't divulge the content of her brochure, I'll ask again. Would someone tell me why Whistler is so highly regarded in the destination skier demographic? I know that it's got extensive terrain and so on, but so does Powder Mountain in Utah, and you don't see that resort topping any magazine polls. Is it the customer service, the village, the nightlife, the great pizza, the exchange rate, or the experience of rain down below and snow up top?

Did I just answer my own question?
post #16 of 25
You forgot one thing; The best Sushi in North America, and don't forget Saki Margeritas. But that's not really a reason to ski somewhere, is it? [img]tongue.gif[/img]

The exchange rate for US citizens plays a big part,
but if I start doing the mathematical comparisons between a few weekends at Killington, and a week at Whistler, I'll get in trouble again, so I won't.
post #17 of 25
The big difference between Europe and North America is that European skiing is all above the tree line. As a practical thing, this means you can get shut out on flat light days in Europe.

Personally, there's no way I'd fly from Europe to ski Whistler unless Europe had a snow drought. Whistler has fantastic terrain and it gets large amounts of (wet) snow but it's now incredibly overdeveloped and tracks out quickly. I thought it was a far better experience back when it was all fixed grip lifts. The base area is a huge purpose-build homogenous McSki Resort (built on what used to be the dump) that's rather devoid of character compared to what you'd typically find in Europe. I think there are far better places to go in North America that have good terrain and lighter snow with less people.
post #18 of 25
You state that you heard that "its so much better its worth it!"
Ive skiied 3 Vallees ,Lots of Tyrol,Whistler/b,comb,Aspen,Vail,Big White and Salt lake mountains.
I dont think any of them are so much better "its worth it!"..
Actually they are all great but not worth flying around the world for if you have the alps in your neighbourhood...But I hate long flights even though I do them every year..if it wasnt for the skiing I would nt go as often.
IF the French alps were 4 hrs away I probably wouldnt go to any of the Amreican resorts again.

I usually only get a 2 week ski break each year and will now just monitor conditions and hope I can get a room (I never travel during peak times so not much trouble usually)
The advantage of the bigger resorts is that if you dont get fresh snow you usually still have long groomers to pound down on ...Whistler and the French Alps are great for this reason...3 Valleys lift system is amazing and nothing I have seen comes close.

[ July 18, 2002, 11:16 PM: Message edited by: LRC ]
post #19 of 25
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the comments. I still can't find the bit I read that started all of this... but lots of places say stuff like 'North America's No. 1 Ski Resort' (e.g.

Quote:
The attractive, pedestrianised resort offers a multitude of shops, bars and restaurants as well as lively nightlife - all within easy reach. Whether you stay in Whistler Village or adjacent Blackcomb you’ll have great skiing and resort facilities virtually on your doorstep. Whistler has consistently been ranked as the number one all round ski resort in North America by independent surveys and it’s easy to see why - rising one vertical mile from the village both mountains offer superb skiing on a wide variety of terrain, suited to all abilities.
But... 1 vertical mile is good but isn't unique is it? you can ski nearly 2,000m of vertical in Verbier if you try and I think some other places offer more.

I believe LM more than the marketers who tell you there aren't any lift queues.

I think I'll try and persuade my friends into Courchevel in Jan. Looks like Val d'Isere again in December as their snow-making & the glacier will give us something to do if it's a bad as last year.

p.s. the reason we'd go to Whistler rather than other famous US resorts is that it's cheaper. Aspen, Breckenridge etc seem to be eye-wateringly expensive.
post #20 of 25
I love Whistler.

The Vertical mile is only available at four (?) resorts in North America.

Of Whistler's vertical mile really only about 2/3 is useful.

It's mostly marketing.

Whistler attraction is the terrain and the steeps. But, from what I read, Europe can compete with those two aspects.
post #21 of 25
Quote:
Originally posted by Frances:

I believe LM more than the marketers who tell you there aren't any lift queues.

Firstly an apology if this quote an incorrect author.

Having spent almost all last season at Whistler I have seen the list queues and they are not bad compared to Europe.

In Europe, the queues can look the same length but hold twice as many people. They are generally not a restful place. They are not orderly; pushing and shoving (squeezing in and sneaking up a couple of places each time the Q moves) are the norm. There are more tactics involved, whether to join the middle (shorter but often slower) or the outside (longer but probably quicker). Kids demand absolute priority and can only be stopped by the judicious placing of a pole between their skis, unless you are cruel enough to pop their bindings. In Italy, adults more often than not allow the kids to queuejump, expressing no more than an indulgent smile.

Expect your skis to be trodden on regularly ( at least they don't damage YOUR edges).

With the addition of the Fitzsimmons lift for peak-time uploads in Whistler village, I think the queues there are considerably reduced.

Blackcomb base never has queues first thing in the morning. Solar coaster is the only lift to steer clear of on occasion there.
Crystal chair only gets busy on powder days.

As with all places, explore and get off the beaten track.
post #22 of 25
Thread Starter 
Oh yes I know all about European lift queues. I can certainly believe Canadian lift lines are more orderly. However in most places I've been getting out as soon as the lifts open beats the worst of the rush; the only problem is towards tea-time.
post #23 of 25
Quote:
Originally posted by Lisamarie:
If you are not in ski school, the gondola lines at Whistler are horrific. To add insult to injury, one year, they had a Neil Diamond look/sound alike "performing" for the whole hour wait!
I guess "YMMV" applies here. I don't think I've ever waited in line for either gondola for more than about 15 minutes. Maybe the Neil Diamond impersonator just made it seem like an hour [img]smile.gif[/img]

As someone else said, use the Fitzsimmons and Garbanzo chairs to avoid long lines for the Whistler gondola.
post #24 of 25
Actually, one of the big problems was that both times we went, it was Spring Break!
post #25 of 25
Frances,
If you think of the overall ski experience that there is in Europe - i.e. including the nightlife, then in my experience, Whistler is the nearest thing in North America to a European resort, and I think that's one of the main reasons Brits like it.
It feels like a European ski holiday without the queues, or the extortionate food & drink prices, and they speak something resembling English ( ).
I do prefer other North American destinations purely for skiing, but as I say, Whistler would best them for the overall experience.

Just my thoughts.

S
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