Spa, snacks, and sips—the ultimate cure for anyone who is stressed and looking for effective ways to relax and rejuvenate. It’s not hard to find a corner in the world that offers these tokens of comfort, but sometimes the best places are either hidden gems or paradises in plain sight.
Whistler, Canada is a world-class ski village that also hosted many events during the 2010 Winter Olympics. It’s definitely not an under-the-radar destination, but it has a lot to offer besides winter activities. For the ladies who are looking for a little getaway to unwind (and aren’t too keen about hitting the slopes), this is the spot to check out. Here’s how to spend a girls’ weekend in Whistler to celebrate a special occasion, or just to recharge.
Assuming your trip starts from Vancouver, B.C., it will be a 90-minute scenic drive that takes you along the Sea to Sky Highway. Check in at the Four Seasons Resort Whistler, a sprawling five-star hotel with plenty of rustic charm and cozy offerings. Its amenities range from an outdoor heated pool to fitness classes to various complimentary treats. Resort staff will take great care of you as soon as you pull up to its entrance—hot cider is even served at the front desk while you wait for your room keys.
After freshening up and maybe taking a stroll around your home for the weekend, head down to the lobby for complimentary shuttle service to Whistler Village for dinner. Visit Araxi Restaurant + Oyster Bar, an upscale and award-winning dining establishment known for its Pacific Northwest dishes. Go for its seasonal tasting menu or order a la carte, including items like a two-tier seafood tower, steak, and truffle fries. Pair your meal with a glass of wine to really bring out the flavours from the plates.
Hop back onto Four Seasons’ free shuttle bus to head back to the hotel. Since the pools are open until 10 p.m., you and your ladies will still have time to jump into the whirlpools. Plush robes are available in each room, so you won’t have to worry about the frosty air when you walk outside. Heated pool towels can also be found on the pool deck, which, in our honest opinion, is a genius offering. Be sure to make use of the well-equipped spa showers (with razors, lotions, and a bathing-suit dryer on the ready) to avoid any long shower line-ups back in your room.
A good night’s rest is pretty much guaranteed with those mighty comfortable beds and silky-soft pillows at the Four Seasons Whistler. Quench your thirst with the water provided from last night’s turn-down service, and make your way down to the fitness room for a yoga or pilates class to kick-off your morning. Taught by local instructors and athletes, you won’t regret losing that extra hour of sleep on the weekend.
After a healthy start to your morning, it’s time for brunch. Walk over to the village (if the weather allows) and make a beeline for Bar Oso, a chic eatery with a moody atmosphere that specializes in Spanish tapas. Get a pitcher of peach sangria to share, and proceed to order all of its most popular menu items: an assorted cheese with fresh-and-cured charcuterie board (featuring duck liver parfait, prosciutto, and 12-month manchego), slow-cooked lamb meatballs, octopus with garlic and confit potatoes, and some warm olives. Finish off with a sweet treat: a velvety Valrhona chocolate tart—it really hits the spot.
Drive over to the Scandinave Spa, a short 6-minute car ride away. Tucked between dense trees in the mountain, this retreat destination might be Whistler’s best kept secret (but may not be the case for much longer because local and foreign visits are on the rise). This spa offers various massage treatments, but its outdoor baths are the star of the show.
There are three steps to its hydrotherapy cycle: hot, cold, and relax. Visitors can start off by soaking in its hot baths or wood-burning sauna, then dip into its cold baths or Nordic waterfall, and finally relaxing in a solarium or beside an outdoor fireplace. For best results, it’s recommended to repeat this circuit at least three times. The celebrated establishment also practices a strict silence philosophy, which really helps guests unplug, detox, and relax.
Trek back to the Four Seasons for wine o’ clock—complimentary tastings are offered at the hotel’s in-house restaurant, Sidecut Modern Steak + Bar. The eatery’s sommelier will pour B.C. reds and whites, which can change daily. Continue the fun outside at the resort’s adorable patio camper, which offers s’mores and spiked hot chocolate topped with a marshmallow snowman. Who doesn’t love roasting marshmallows around a cozy fire pit, while sipping on boozy beverages? Plush blankets and pillows will also keep you warm if the flames don’t do its job.
Change into your pajamas for a pizza and movie night in, which is truly a party that will make anyone envious. Be sure to order the meal beforehand so the food comes when you want it to—gourmet pizzas (margherita, meat, and veggie options) are available from Sidecut. Choose from the latest flicks (Crazy Rich Asians or Mamma Mia are great for a girls’ movie night) or go through the DVD collection at the front desk for a free rental. Don’t forget the popcorn and candy, which can be ordered from room-service or the hotel’s new movie bundle.
Wake up from your beauty sleep and get ready for a hearty breakfast buffet at Sidecut, which is probably better than any dream you were having. Start off with a green juice, tea, or coffee, and pace yourself with the spread—it can get overwhelming. Indulge in dishes like fresh pastries, smoked salmon, bacon, create-your-own omelettes, fresh fruits, creamy mashed potatoes, artisan cheeses, and much more. Your only concern will be how many more plates you can handle before the buffet ends at 10:00 a.m.
All good things come to an end, and in the blink of an eye, you’ll have to check out of your stay at 11:00 a.m. Luckily, you can leave your bags with the concierge and sneak in one more dip in pool or gym session with your friends. Why not make use of the ultra-luxe showers before driving home?
Stop by the Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish if you happen to have some spare time, because it’s a must-visit attraction for anyone who loves great views. The gondola ride up and down is already worth the visit, even if you are afraid of heights. Open year-round, its winter activities are just as popular as its summer counterparts. Walk across the suspension bridge and surround yourself in nature, take a short hike to its Chief Overlook viewing platform to see Howe Sound, or snowshoe in different terrain if weather permits. Seasonal cheese and chocolate fondues are also available, which is the perfect treat after a chilly trek.
About the writer:
Photo credits: Four Seasons Resort Whistler, Bar Oso, Scandinave Spa, Tara O' Grady, Paul Bride, and Tammy Kwan