May09

10 ways to upgrade your Whistler ski vacation

Thanks to favorable exchange rates, U.S. skiers can save an extra 20–25% on a Whistler ski vacation this season. So what will you do with that extra money? You have two options: one, put the money into a savings account for next year's ski trip, or two, make your Whistler ski vacation your best ski vacation yet by upgrading your experience. Life is short and your ski vacations are important to you, right? We think so. So go ahead and make this winter's ski vacation to Whistler the one you will never forget and opt for number two.

To help you make your dollar go even further and enhance your Whistler ski trip, we comprised a list of the best upgrades.

1. ADD A STAR TO YOUR ACCOMMODATIONS

Fairmont Chateau Whistler

Use that extra mullah to enhance whatever matters most to you for ski-vacation accommodations. That could mean upgrading to a larger, better equipped room or choosing a property with a center-stage location or a longer list of amenities and services. If you're going to upgrade to a four or five-star lodging property, we recommend the luxe Fairmont Chateau Whistler, located at the base of Blackcomb Mountain. If that's your go-to hotel already, use your extra cash to upgrade to Fairmont Gold. It's worth its weight in, you know…

Reserving accommodations on the Gold floor unlocks priceless perks like room to spread out in the private lounge, complimentary cocktail canapés and a hearty continental breakfast.

2. BOOK A DAY OR TWO IN THE BIRD WITH WHISTLER HELI SKIING

heli skiing in Whistler BlackcombPhoto: Whistler Heli Skiing
A bucket-list excursion for just about every avid skier or snowboarder, heli skiing is one of those don't-miss experiences. What's so great about Whistler Heli-Skiing is that the operation is based out of the ski resort and offers day trips, so guests can easily tack on a day of heli skiing to their vacation. With Whistler Heli-Skiing and many other heli operators, there's no need to have previous heli-skiing experience. As long as you can comfortably ski most ungroomed terrain at the resort, you'll be able to enjoy the experience.

Starting at $738 USD for a 3-run package, Whistler Heli-Skiing offers an affordable way upgrade your Whistler ski trip in a big way. Keep in mind, the favorable exchange rates also applies to heli skiing, so you're getting a great deal on that, too! A catered, on-mountain lunch is included.

3. UPGRADE YOUR SKIING OR RIDING WITH A LESSON OR CAMP

Ski lessons in Whistler BlackcombPhoto: Whistler Blackcomb/Toshi Kawano
Whether you're a newbie or seasoned skier or snowboarder, everyone can glean benefits from a lesson. Learn the basics or perfect your advanced technique by taking a full- or half-day group or private lesson on your Whistler ski trip. There's no better place to shape up your skills thanks to Whistler Blackcomb's vast and varied terrain.

Choose from a Max 4 lesson, where your group will never be larger than four, a private ski or snowboard lesson or something truly unique, like Whistler Blackcombs Ski or Ride with an Olympian program. You can receive tips and tricks from the world's best and hear their stories of glory. Kids will love getting upgraded to a 3- or 5-day Adventure Camp, which includes fun, themed on-mountain activities and experiences, hot lunch and snacks and lift-line priority.

If you're dying to step up your steeps skiing, upgrade your technique with a two-day Extremely Canadian camp. With local pros leading the way, you'll enjoy a guided tour of Whistler Blackcomb's most challenging terrain and receive tips on how to ski or ride in these zones so you look like a hero, too.

4. SIGN UP FOR BREAKFAST AND UNTRACKED TERRAIN WITH FRESH TRACKS

Breakfast with fresh tracks in WhistlerPhoto: Whistler Blackcomb
Upgrade your regular lift ticket to one that gets you special privileges by signing up for the Fresh Tracks program. In addition to a mountain-sized breakfast buffet, Fresh Tracks provides guests with early access to the slopes. Participants load the Whistler Village Gondola before the general public, between 7:15 a.m. and 8 a.m. After enjoying a breakfast spread of eggs, bacon, pastries, yogurt and fruit at the Roundhouse Lodge, head out to take advantage of the untracked corduroy or British Columbia powder before the rest of the crowds have arrived on the mountain.

5. TREAT YOURSELF TO A WHISTLER TASTING TOUR

Foodie fanatics will want to upgrade their normally planned dinner for one that includes all the best restaurants rolled into one tour. The Whistler Tasting Tour features stops at five different restaurants. There are multiple tours to fit your particular dining predictions, too. If you're looking to sample Whistler's upscale establishments, the 3.5-hour fine-dining tour will delight. If you're looking for some classic, casual eats, the Hidden Gems tour is an optimal choice.

6. EXPERIENCE SNOWBOUND FORESTS AND VALLEYS VIA ZIPLINE

Ziptrek Eco Tours in WhistlerPhoto: Ziptrek Eco Tours
Enhance your mountain experience with a unique view of Whistler's snow-capped peaks, sparkling forests and serene valleys. On a ZipTrek EcoTour, you can enjoy winter's beauty from a new perspective—a zipline! You can choose from a variety of three-hour tours, which offer aerial exploration of Fitzsimmons Creek and an ancient rainforest blanketed in snow. The tours take place across a handful of interconnected ziplines and treetop bridges. Guests will have access to heated and sheltered platforms to minimize exposure to the elements, but appropriate winter outerwear is recommended.

7. CHECK OFF A SNOWMOBILE-POWERED ADVENTURE

snowmobiling in Whistler BlackcombPhoto: Canadian Wilderness Adventures
Reve up your off-mountain activities on your Whistler ski vacation with a Canadian Wilderness snowmobile excursion. You can choose from a guided three-hour intermediate experience all the way to an advanced, full-day tour deep in the powdery backcountry. You can even opt for a morning mission that includes a home-cooked breakfast in a remote, rustic cabin. Canadian bacon included.

8. SLOW YOUR VACATION DOWN AT THE SCANDINAVE SPA

hot spring spa in WhistlerPhoto: Scandinave Spa
Step up your R&R game by trading in your hotel's hot tub for an afternoon at one of Whistler's top health spas, Scandinave. Here, you can enjoy healing hydrotherapy in the spa's many hot baths, Nordic waterfalls, Finnish saunas, eucalyptus steam baths and cold plunges. You can also book a relaxing massage treatment, including Swedish, deep tissue and Thai Yoga.

9. SPLURGE ON AN UNFORGETTABLE DINNER

Araxi in WhistlerPhoto: Araxi
If dining is high on your ski-vacation list, be sure to put your savings towards an extraordinary epicurean experience at one of Whistler's fantastic restaurants. Known as one of Ski Country's top resorts for dining and nightlife, there's no shortage of restaurant options in Whistler, but Araxi, Bearfoot and Alta Bistro are among our favorites for fine dining. Wine aficionados will appreciate Bearfoot Bistro's 14,000-bottle cellar and farm-to-table fans will love the locally sourced ingredients featured on Alta Bistro's menu. Boasting nine consecutive years as the "Best Restaurant in Whistler" by Vancouver magazine, Araxi offers acclaimed cuisine, wine and hospitality. It's also one of Whistler's top spots for Pacific seafood.

The renowned Sushi Village is a must if you're looking for a more casual, but high-quality dining experience. Offering sushi, soups, salads, hot dishes, traditional Japanese cuisine and famous sake margaritas, Sushi Village is as much about socializing as it is about eating. Come here to see and be seen!

10. ENJOY SOME "COOL" NIGHTLIFE IN THE KETTLE ONE ICE ROOM

The Kettle One Ice Room, located in the Bearfoot Bistro, is truly Whistler's coolest place to enjoy libations. In fact, it's the coldest vodka room in the world. Guests are given Canada Goose Artic jackets and hats before entering, since the room is an icy -25°F. Featuring 55 different vodkas from 12 different countries, the Ice Room isn’t something you can experience just anywhere. The ceiling, walls and bars, basically everything, is comprised of thick ice. The tasting session lasts 10 to 12 minutes, during which you can sample four different premium vodkas and learn about how the grain, distillation and filtration process combine to make each vodka unique.