Thinking of a quick getaway to Whistler but don’t feel like skiing or snowboarding? Relax, there’s still plenty to enjoy. Crystal Lodge and their restaurants invited us up for a weekend of food and fun and showed me that you can enjoy mountain vibes and race through the forest at high speeds in Whistler without strapping your feet into wood and fibreglass.
Accommodations: Crystal Lodge, Whistler Village
Unbeatable location (literal centre of the village), friendly and helpful staff, comfortable and clean. I stayed in a Crystal King room and found the bed super comfy to crash on at the end of a long day in Whistler. There are some unique services and perks at Crystal Lodge too. They have a complementary Ski Valet Service that can help you store your gear, help you get acquainted with the slopes and prepare you for the conditions.
Guests staying at Crystal Lodge also get discounts to various restaurants, stores and services in the Village. Details can be found on the amenities page on their website. Lucky for us, the concierge was also able to hook us up with tickets to the local nightclub hot spot, Moe Joe’s. Perhaps my favourite of all the perks however, was the complementary hot apple cider in the lobby. Nothing can kick a day off right like a tasty hot beverage.
Breakfast: Wild Wood Pacific Bistro
The best thing about Wild Wood’s breakfast menu is that there is something for everyone: from traditional breakfasts and an impressive selection of eggs bennies for a satisfying brunch, to wraps, bowls and healthy breakfast options for conscious eaters and sweet “breakfast delights” like banana bread French toast. Even within their selection of bennies there are heartier ones, lighter ones and fancy seafood ones. I went with the asparagus and Portobello. For the true bene addict, you can even get a sampler of any 3 for $18.
Lunch: Beacon Pub & Eatery
A pub with good food and good drinks is a rare find. Find one with that and a lively, friendly atmosphere, and you’re looking for apartment listings in the neighbourhood. Ok, with housing costs in BC that is definitely an exaggeration but you get what I mean. A pub that has all 3 is hard to come by.
Starting with cocktails, I would say skip the menu board and go for a Caesar. The idea of going out to Whistler and having a Caesar, a Canadian classic that can be found anywhere, isn’t what I would usually do. Their Caesar however, is exceptionally satisfying with a nice kick. I wonder if that’s why it’s served in a glass boot.
If a filling Caesar is not your jam, for a fruity twist on hot chocolate, the Raspberry Truffle is a warm delight. I also tried The Classy Lebowski, a White Russian with Van Gogh Espresso Vodka instead of plain vodka. By the description I was imagining it would be like a cold Irish Coffee but it’s more or less just a White Russian.
There is nothing wrong with going to a pub and ordering a salad. We had their Tomato + Avocado salad with some perfectly seared spice crusted albacore tuna. Big enough to share for sure.
Their Royale with Cheese burger is made with charred wagyu beef, aged white cheddar, tomatoes, buttered lettuce and their own Beacon sauce. Treat yourself and upgrade your side to some poutine. You’d think thick cut fries might throw off the balance but I think it was perfect.
The culinary team at Basalt’s passion for food innovation comes across in their 3 course tasting menu. Beautiful presentation and unique flavour combinations. A fair feast of flavours for $25. If you opt to add some charcuterie to your 3 courses, don’t pass up the chicken liver mousse. We had a pretty big party at Basalt and the mousse was the first to go.
A unique item on their cocktail menu, BC Sour, mixes Seagrams VO Whiskey with Skaha Impulsion Cabernet Merlot. This was my first time having whiskey and wine in a cocktail. The beautiful suspension of the wine on top makes you wonder if you should leave it separated or mix it together when you drink it. I’ll leave it up to you to experiment.
For an appetizer, I had the herbed labneh and roast beet salad with poached pear, frisee, glazed walnuts and fermented honey vinaigrette. Their artistry comes through in the thoughtful combination of flavours between the sweet pear, earthy beets and tangy labneh (greek yoghurt).
Their honey and soy glazed chem mountain pork belly on orange sesame yams with a side of house kimchi and wasabi aioli reminds me of my favourite sweet and spicy Korean fried chicken. The portions may look small but with everything else the rest of the meal, this was just the right amount of meat for me. The wasabi aioli was they to bringing to whole dish together.
For dessert there was a choice between pumpkin crème brulee and green apple tart. I snuck a bite of my friend’s crème brulee and I found that to be more satisfying. It was creamy in texture and lightly sweet. Coupled with the brownie it’s delicious.
Adventure: Ziplining with Ziptrek Ecotours
I was a little iffy about this because I am afraid of heights and hate looking down on chairlifts. It’s advertised to include a zipline with a 30-story descent and travelling over 100km/h. Turns out, ziplining feels more secure than a chairlift. I did the Eagle Tour where there are 5 ziplines in total taking about 2.5 hours to complete. Once you do the first line you’ll know there’s nothing to be afraid of. The harness is so secure and the guides take so many safety measures. Even when guiding us up the snowy hill they take such care in looking out for the guests, you’ll be in good hands. On the tour you get to learn a little about trees and nature too.
If you’re worried about footwear, non-slip and comfortable to walk in is fine. Doesn’t have to be hiking boots. I wore casual 1 inch boots similar to Doc Martins.
Arts: Audain Art Museum
Who knew there was art in Whistler! Located on the North east corner of Whistler Village is a beautiful modern passive building with giant slanted roofs and minimalistic yet intricate wooden details. Inside is a very impressive collection of BC art. Growing up in BC, in school I was taught a little about indigenous art and saw a lot of Emily Carr’s work but there is so much more to BC art.
It’s nice that these pieces have a home here and a chance to gain more exposure. I highly recommend timing your visit with their one hour tour. You get to learn things about the art and the architecture that you otherwise wouldn’t get to learn about.
How to get to Whistler by bus:
I took Epic Rides from Downtown Vancouver. Boarding is super convenient, just outside of Burrard Station on Melville street right behind the Hyatt. Non-stop round trip for $35. It drops you off in a parking lot next to the Village. It’s a fun ride if you’ve never been on the Sea to Sky highway. The driver will tell you fun facts about different areas on the drive up. There’s also plenty of luggage space in the storage compartment.
If you’re invited on a trip to Whistler but worry if you don’t do snow sports that there will be nothing to do, don’t sweat it. It’s a world class resort town for a reason.