Be Vancouver Staff Writer
We went to Whistler in phase 3 of a pandemic! Everything you need to KNOW, EAT, SLEEP, AND DO!
Updated: Jul 11, 2020
BC has lifted the travel ban, and many of us are excited to get out of the house and do something outside of the home, apartment, parents basement, kids' guest house... We took our traveling circus (our family) to Whistler and this is what we did...
Please note: We do let the venues know we are coming in advance as we really like to provide notice and not ambush anyone.
We did not receive any payments or inducements for any of the activities or venues we attended.
Stay: Fairmont Chateau Whistler
This has been one of our favourite places to stay for a long time. Proximity to the village is a short walk and the venue is great. Coming here during the COVID pandemic and experiencing Accor’s version of Fairmont was actually very good. They took a very proactive approach to safety. On arrival the bellman and valets all were wearing masks and gloves that they seemed to change with each car that they parked. Inside you were greeted with signage and a temperature check. Upon passing the screening and temperature check you were given a “Health Passport” card which you needed to present to gain entry into any of the other public areas like the mallard lounge, pool, spa or Portobellos.
Top Tip: when you check in make a “reservation” for your pool time. This is done at the concierge beside the front desk. The pool areas were being limited to a max of 50 people and the reservations themselves filled up quickly. We were unable to get access to the pool on the first day but did secure a spot on the second night for 9:30 pm. Great without kids, tough if you have kids wanting to swim. Additional notes: Only 6 people are allowed in the hot tub at a time. There were often several people waiting to get in. The Sauna is CLOSED. Upon arrival you are required to show your health card and will then be lead by a pool valet to your physically distanced pool loungers.
Overall the service and venue were great. Sanitizer bottles were everywhere. We wore masks at all times, as did the staff, but not all of the patrons were as polite. That is the challenge with travel currently, all it takes is one person to not show the courtesy of wearing a mask.
Every guest was very courteous when using the elevators. Only one family at a time. Everyone would just wait their turn for the next elevator. The few times one of us were in the elevator alone guests would always ask if we were comfortable with them joining us before getting in.
Photo by BeVancouver Staff - Wellness Kit, Temperature Passport Cards, Remote in a Bag, Coffee & Tea
The rooms were clean and to the usual Fairmont standard. We were on the 6th floor and they seemed to have just been refreshed with carpets and soft furnishing. There was a wellness kit in the room that included a personal hand sanitizer, disposable mask for each guest, and two pairs of disposable gloves. The remotes were in sleeves showing that they had been cleaned. Throughout our stay the ongoing attention to cleaning and sanitizing was evident. The hotel makes every effort to have the room vacant for 48 hours before your arrival. Mini bar items have been removed. The cleaning staff do not enter your room during your stay unless something is needed.
Hiccup: We did have one. The Elevators stopped working while we were in them! This happens from time to time and you can’t really fault the hotel for that, however in this case we were plunged into darkness, there were no emergency lights, and there was no power to the panel so the emergency button and the phone did not work. Luckily the iphones we had were fully charged and were able to get some help and get out. We have asked management to let us know what happened but have yet to hear back from them other than their immediate and sincere apologies’. We will report back with what was going on there.
We also walked the other Hotels in Whistler, that all had varying degrees of protocols and protection. In our view, the Fairmont was most prepared and proactive during this visit.
Photo by BeVancouver | Jenae Spring
Mountain: We went Downhill Mountain Biking... and it was fantastic.
Photo by Coastal Culture
Coastal Culture’s Thomas set us up and we were off to the Mountain. We were a little concerned as neither of us had attempted to go downhill riding before, but we were assured it was a progressive activity and we could ease into it. Thomas was right, it was a blast. The ride up the mountain to the Garbanzo Express zone was scenic (1,686m/5,528 feet) and once there the paths were well marked by terrain, and ability levels. We started slow on the equivalent of green runs and had progressed onto blues after an hour. We watched the riders on the black runs and decided that those were best left for another day. Though we were outfitted on bikes that could have handled the terrain, self preservation and the call of Longhorns prevailed. Funnily, our decision to take a scenic route down the mountain or our last of many runs had us run alongside a black bear and her cubs….. We will post the very short video of this. We didn’t linger for obvious reasons and continued down the path and away from the Bear and the cubs. This got most of our hearts racing, and we thought it best to continue down and away from them. They sat and watched as we rode away and then went back about their business. Still, it was an amazing activity to try and we would suggest that it really is for most ages and skill levels though it seems a little daunting at first. All of the other riders we encountered were encouraging (they knew we were first-timers) and the team at Coastal Culture were a pleasure to deal with. The Lift ticket experience was a little cumbersome; we needed to sign using a pen as opposed to an online or phone based form. They did wipe the pens down before and after use so there were being very diligent.
Photo by BeVancouver
Evening Activity: Whistler Escape Room
To sum it up, a great venue and a great activity. We did this with a group of people all within our Social Bubble. Safety protocols were definitely in place; masks, Sanitizer, wipe downs of all of the rooms. Waivers were all accessible on your phones so no paper needed. There are a number of rooms to escape from. We experienced the Cabin and Pirate Ship. They spend a lot of time on the construction of these rooms and the thought process required to solved them. Pirate Ship was aimed at a younger audience while the Cabin as aimed at adults. They have different difficulty levels. Everyone who participated enjoyed the experience and what was really interesting was how different people within your group were able to solve different problems. Definitely worth doing the next time you are in Whistler.
Daytime Activity: Treetop Adventure
This is an obstacle course that is set in treetops and includes obstacles, hurdles and ziplines. Staff was excellent, all protocols were evident and observed. This is a great outdoor activity to do when in Whistler, and its is a tonne of fun for the kids, teenagers, young adults, and the slightly older ones as well. As long as you can climb a ladder and go down a slide, this is something you can try with confidence,
We went to a number of locations, but we didn’t necessarily go into all of them. Many, including the ones listed below, were very compliant with the current Covid requirements. We went by a number of places that seemed to have missed the Covid memo…
... after downhill riding: Always a great Apres. Good screening before we were seated, Mandatory hand sanitization and they sprayed down the seats and table we were seated at. Food was great though they have streamlined their menu and changed presentation to accommodate for the current requirments and protocols. Always a good place to go, great servers and vantage point for watching the downhillers on their bikes.
Great screening and sanitization, Good spacing between tables. Servers all wearing masks and the food was great. Rice wasn’t fried on the grill which was the only let down but the experience was very good and the service was very friendly and professional.
Mallard Lounge in the Fairmont
It is really hard to beat this place. The food is good, the service is great and the ambiance is always right. It is more expensive as it is in the hotel, but as I mentioned you can’t get in without a Health Passport card, staff are all in masks, the tables are sanitized between each seating and you just “feel” safer knowing that they are being so proactive about the sanitization and safety.
We can make it really simple, go here for breakfast and get one of the bowls. They are delicious, reasonably priced, and quick.
We felt very comfortable that the restaurant was following health and safety guidelines. Earls is a big ship and we expected them to have it right. All guests are required to sanitize before entering the restaurant, staff are all wearing masks and we were happy to see that the booths were divided by plexiglass. Capacity has definitely been reduced and a reservation is suggested as it was full several times when we initially tried to dine here.
Most restaurants had a 6 person maximum per table. We would suggest always making a reservation when possible as many restaurants had long waits as they are operating at reduced capacity. Some restaurants menus have been streamlined so not all of them will have your favourite dishes. Not all the restaurants required their staff to wear masks even though they were coming to your table to deliver food and drinks. Not all restaurants are open, some of the smaller ones were not open and did not have an opening date available.
Of course we had to stop and do a little shopping in the village. We found that all the stores that we went into did require guests to sanitize their hands upon entering and many ask if you have signs of Covid... Do expect to wait outside some of the more popular stores and they are adhering to capacity limits and many of the stores are very small therefore can only allow 2 or 3 people in at once.
Stop on the Drive
Shannon falls was a beautiful place to stop with kids to get out and stretch their legs or visit the washroom. The waterfalls are a short five minute walk up the trail and is a spectacular sight to see for those who haven’t seen them before. They also have their picnic table open and would make a great place to stop for a picnic lunch or dinner on your way to or from whistler.
Lakes in Whistler
Playgrounds are open for children but some of the beaches are closed. Spending the afternoon riding lake to lake is a fun family activity that gets the entire family outside and physically active.
Cultural Learning Opportunity
Photo by Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre
The Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre is a great place to go on self guided experiences in Whistler. They have opened back up as of the third of July which was after our time in Whistler. It is important and appropriate to gratefully and respectfully acknowledge that Whistler operates in the shared unceded territories of the Sk̲wx̲wú7mesh and Líl̓wat Nations.
We at BeVancouver gratefully and respectfully acknowledge that Whistler and the places we visit operate and exist in the shared unceded territories of the Sk̲wx̲wú7mesh and Líl̓wat Nations.