A summer visit to Whistler

Updated: August 5, 2012

By Steve Turcotte
Inside Golf Editor

I’ve been fortunate to get to some of the golf vacation hotspots around the globe. Places like Hawaii, Arizona, South Carolina, Puerto Rico, Australia, Florida all fit the bill of a glamorous golf destination.

But there is something about Whistler, British Columbia that seems to have a little more over the other places.
Maybe it’s the world-class golf. Perhaps it’s the chance to take a trip down a zip line at 60 miles per hour. Could be the chance for a ride on the Peak 2 Peak gondola, which has nearly two miles of hanging cable without a support tower. What about
the world-class mountain biking?

If there is a destination that seems to have more then just golf on the plate, then Whistler is the place.

For years, Whistler was a place that was known for its world-class skiing. With Blackcomb Mountain and nearby Whistler Mountain, the area had plenty of terrain to keep skiers busy for hours, days and weeks. But then came the other activities. The golf. The rafting. The hiking. The horseback riding. The bungee jumping. The Ziptrek tours.

And in 2010 came the Winter Olympics. If Whistler wasn’t know as a must-see destination before 2010, then the Olympics proved just how good the place really is.

Whistler and Blackcomb combined to host the alpine events as well as the sliding events and a little down the road, the ski jumping. If Whistler was a Pacific Northwest secret until then, after the Olympics the cat was definitely out of the bag.
Over two million tourists head to Whistler every year. And the place is much more than just a winter getaway. Sure the winter months provide the terrific skiing and snowboarding and 8,172 acres of skiing terrain, but the area has become a tourist Mecca in the summer months. It may come as a surprise to some, but summertime is a bigger season than the winter months.

With the huge Whistler Village and all of its shops, restaurants and hotels, there is plenty to see and do.

Here’s a look at some of the sights and scenes around Whistler:

Golf: Some of golf’s big-name designers have left their imprint at Whistler – and just a little north in the town of Pemberton. Jack Nicklaus created Nicklaus North; Arnold Palmer worked his magic with Whistler Golf Club; Robert Trent Jones Jr. designed Chateau Whistler and Bob Cupp came up with a stunner just north in Pemberton with Big Sky.

Golf is a treat in the area. All the courses are different and all offer some of the best mountain views you will ever see.
Nicklaus North has over 90 bunkers and the course sits right next to Green Lake, making the tee shots on the par-3 17th a memorable water and mountain shot. The course has also hosted the Canadian Skins Game.

Whistler Golf Club sits right next to the Whistler Village and was the first Canadian course designed by Palmer. Tree-lined fairways and water give you all the challenges you need.

Chateau Whistler is a mountain test and was carved out of the Coast Mountains. There are plenty of trees, rock faces and an elevation change of 400 feet.

Big Sky has perhaps the most stunning backdrop of any golf course you will find with Mount Currie looming in the background. In fact, the course offers a helicopter trip to the top of Mount Currie to hit balls off the top of the 9,000-foot peak,
If golf is your ticket, then you are in business. If you want more than golf, you will not be disappointed.

Ziptrek Eco Tours has created a pair of zip lines through the forest next to Blackcomb Mountain giving you a thrill through the trees. The new Eagle zip line has five lines, a chance to walk through the trees over some bridges and a 2,200-foot zip line that sends you up to 60 miles an hour.

Whistler Bungee is another way to get your thrill on. Whistler Bungee sends people off a bridge and hurling down toward the water.

But one of the most dramatic tours you can take has to be the Peak 2 Peak gondola ride. This was something that came right before the Winter Olympics and took 16 months to create. Peak 2 Peak is a gondola ride that connects the Blackcomb Mountain and Whistler Mountain. The gondola ride takes you over Fitzsimmons Valley, 1,400 feet below. And the ride also feature nearly two miles of cable unassisted by towers. When you see it, you think there’s no way you are going on it. But once you set foot inside the large gondola and feel how smooth the ride is, you get a view of Whistler that is unparalleled. In fact, a couple of the gondolas have see-through glass bottoms. If you don’t like heights, don’t look down.

As you wander around Whistler Village, you see just how big it is. There are the myriad of shops, restaurants and hotels. You can stay in any type of hotel, eat any kind of food and shop in so many different stores it will keep you busy all day.

Along the way, it’s easy to pick up an activities book. And these things are filled with things to do. There is mountain climbing, horseback riding, ATV tours, jeep tours, canoe trips, white water rafting and, of course, mountain biking. Whistler has the best mountain biking terrain in the world. If you’re in doubt, just ask the hundreds of mountain bikers who hit the chairlift lines every day in the summer, and who are more than happy to fork over $40 for a ticket to the top. There are trails and jumps for just about any type of rider from beginner to expert.

For an individual or for families, Whistler seems to have something for everyone.