Whistler-Blackcomb, North America’s largest winter sports resort, is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2016 with special events throughout the season. In addition to all the expected fun on the slopes, the Canadian town’s first art museum is slated to open this year while new restaurants and food events aim to keep you well fed.
Fab 50 at Whistler-Blackcomb
Get psyched for your mountain visit with the 30-minute film, 50 Years Of Going Beyond, available online, which details the resort community’s long history. Once you arrive in the village, stop into the Whistler Museum, open by donation, to learn more about the resort’s origins and the sometimes-eccentric entrepreneurs who transformed a small summer fishing resort into today’s winter ski mecca.
From ice-fishing to chocolate-tasting
The luxe Fairmont Chateau Whistler is offering new adventures this winter, whether you’re looking for a distinctively Canadian outdoor experience or a cozy-by-the-fire sweet sampling. Partnering with a local fishing outfitter, Pemberton Fish Finders, the resort has packaged a day of ice-fishing that includes instruction from a professional guide, a gourmet picnic lunch and dinner back at the hotel’s Grill Room, where the chefs will prepare your fresh catch. If you prefer your adventures warmer and sweeter, settle into a fireside seat at the hotel’s Mallard Lounge, where you can sample single-origin organic chocolate, such as a candied orange dark chocolate bar, paired with whiskey, wine or port.
Mountaintop events for food and wine lovers
Acclaimed Vancouver chef David Hawksworth, of the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Hawksworth Restaurant, is preparing a series of gourmet lunches this winter at Steeps Grill & Wine Bar in the Roundhouse Lodge on Whistler Mountain. To sample Hawksworth’s creations (think Thai coconut curry with winter squash or roast carrot and avocado salad with crème fraîche), book ahead for prix-fixe dining events on February 8 and March 26.
Steeps is also the venue for a series of winemaker après-ski events, featuring vino from Italy’s Ruffino (February 24), the Napa Valley’s Robert Mondavi Winery (March 10) and Canada’s first aboriginal-owned winery, Okanagan-based Nk’Mip Cellars (March 31).
Let’s do lunch
At 6,102 feet over on the Blackcomb side, the popular lunchtime destination Rendezvous Lodge has been completely renovated this season. Even better, its upscale Christine’s Restaurant lured chef Steve Ramey from Hawksworth Restaurant to revamp the menu with dishes that are worth taking off your skis for, from Keralan sablefish curry or hand-rolled cavatelli with albacore tuna and bottarga to a Wagyu beef burger topped with peameal bacon.
Après-ski, Spanish style
Whistler’s most anticipated new eatery this season is Bar Oso, a Spanish-inspired tapas lounge from the same team that runs highly regarded Araxi. Tuck into this smart newcomer après-ski for a glass of wine from Spain or BC, paired with snacks like a prawn and quail egg skewer, housemade charcuterie or wild scallop crudo with capers, olives and oranges. Just one more delicious reason to celebrate in Whistler this winter.
A new art museum
Whistler scored a coup when Vancouver-based home builder, art collector and philanthropist Michael Audain and his wife, Yoshiko Karasawa, opted to endow Canada’s newest not-for-profit art institution in the heart of the resort community. Highlights from the holdings of the new Audain Art Museum, which is opening this March, include one of the world’s most extensive collections of First Nations masks, paintings by Emily Carr and works by many Canadian contemporary artists, including Robert Davidson and Jeff Wall.