My partner and I have just celebrated our eighth anniversary together. What’s the joke? In gay-years that would be like 56? Looking for a special way to celebrate, we decided to look north with a weekend getaway to check-out the Olympic-sized transformation of Whistler and discover what it might have for a romantic escape.
Since the Olympics, getting to Whistler is now more of a pleasure than an ordeal. With the infusion of government money into the Sea to Sky Highway, it has been transformed into a relatively short hour and half drive from downtown Vancouver. Or for those that prefer to leave the driving to others there are a number of companies offering bus service or for an even more relaxing experience, you could even try the Rocky Mountaineer train.
If you drive, like we did, give yourself plenty of time, for while the road improvements have made the trip much faster, you’ll probably want to stop along the way for those pretty-much-guaranteed bear sightings (the wild kind, not the Pumpjack kind) before heading to your hotel.
For us the The Fairmont Chateau Whistler was the perfect option. After all, if it was good enough for The Bachelor’s Byron Velvick, it is certainly good enough for a couple of Vancouver gays.
Nestled in Whistler’s Upper Village, it is just far enough away from “civilization” to make it a real getaway, but close to everything that even if you forget something for that wild weekend you’re planning, you won’t have far to go.
Assuming a Friday arrival like us, after a long work week there is nothing like being pampered right away and for us, pampering means great food. While The Fairmont Chateau Whistler has five restaurants, nothing says romance quite like The Wine Room with its beautiful stone fireplace, rustic décor and friendly attentive service. If you’re fortunate like us, you may even arrive on one of those days where the Chef has flown in just enough Copper River salmon for a few lucky diners. Or try the Fairmont’s new Lifestyle Cuisine Plus menu that caters to pretty much all needs including vegetarians, diabetics or those on a macrobiotic, vegan, gluten-free or even raw diet.
Finishing up the meal with some of The Fairmont Chateau Whistler’s signature vanilla cotton candy, it was only a short elevator ride up to our room. It is Whistler after all, and even the heartiest rabbits can only stay inside so long before the call of the wild beckons, and a good night’s rest is a must.
Of course, when one thinks of Whistler one can’t help but think the outdoors and even the most hardened urbanites can find something to do. So when you’re ready to venture outside the warm comforts of your hotel room, a whole world awaits. And while you might at first think it may be the furthest thing from love, what better way to bond with your husband, wife, partner, lover, boyfriend, or girlfriend than by sharing in an adrenaline rush; it can also be a real aphrodisiac.
During the winter season there are all the snow sports, including snowboarding and the world-class downhill and cross-country skiing, but even during the summer Whistler offers outdoor adventures to suit all interests (and skills). From a stroll through the village shops with a stop at the gay-friendly Whistler Love Nest on Main Street for a few boudoir toys, to a bike ride around the Lost Lake Trails (home of the Vancouver North American Outgames Eco-challenge), or 18 holes at The Fairmont Chateau Whistler Golf Club, the outdoors beckon from all corners.
For the slightly more adventurous, or for those like us wanting to shed your city slicker ‘tude, there is always the Ziptrek Ecotours high above the tree-tops on Blackcomb Mountain. A three hour tour along five different ziplines, the Bear Tour not only gives an adrenaline rush but the guides also do a little teaching about sustainability as you progress along the route. Starting off on the relatively short 100 foot line about 20 feet above the ground, you gradually progress to the penultimate 1,100 foot zipline high above Fitzsimmons Creek. By the time you’re done the last line you’ll be stepping off the precipice like a pro and maybe even do it in style: upside down like I managed to do! And trust me when I say, there is nothing more humbling than a city-dweller being hurled screaming across a wire at 35 kilometres an hour.
Like any good adventure, a morning or afternoon in the Village or on the mountains always brings you back to your hotel. For those staying at The Fairmont Chateau Whistler it means a visit to either the indoor or one of three outdoor hot tubs to help relax any sore muscles, or maybe a drink in the Mallard Lounge where even during the summer months the fireplace still holds an appeal amongst its rich style.
No romantic getaway is complete without the ubiquitous west coast spa experience. Not surprisingly, Whistler is home to a multitude of spas dotted around the Village and in its hotels but for us the Vida Spa in The Fairmont Chateau Whistler was not only convenient, but offers a whole range of spa offerings including the very relaxing side-by-side couple’s massage. And of course, in gay-friendly Whistler no one will bat an eye if that couple is two guys or two gals. Staff told us that while same-sex couples can be found year-round, during gay ski week you’ll definitely want to make an appointment as pedicures and the couple’s massages are booked solid.
After a relaxing time in the spa it is back to the room for some more snuggle time and maybe a quick visit to the fire pits on The Fairmont Chateau Whistler’s terrace (marshmallows not included) and before we knew it the perfect romantic getaway to celebrate our 56, I mean eight years, was soon over.
So whether it is anniversary of years, weeks or even days, we proved it really is easy to be in love at (and with) Whistler.
Next month: the gay-friendly side to Whistler.