I’m afraid of heights. That is, I think I am. At least I used to be. I don’t mean to sound confused, but you see a recent FAM trip to Whistler, British Columbia, has me a tad puzzled. That’s a photo of me (above), tethered to the zip line, flying through the trees, between the mountains and in the snow. Me. The person who gets a queasy feeling when I drive the spaghetti bowl of overpasses in Houston.
Whistler will do that to you—make you forget you’re an unapologetic, urban-loving, won’t-go-to-the-mailbox-without-my-lipstickon, high-maintenance editor. But after three days in Whistler, I’m dying to go back, itching to learn how to snowboard and ready to try my hand at rock climbing. Maybe it’s the mountain air and high altitude, but I do believe Whistler has turned me outdoorsy.
So if you have any reservations about taking your “city-fied” group to the wild beauty of Whistler, rest assured, they’ll love it. This four-season destination is the perfect setting for meeting and event groups.
Where to Stay & Meet
“Whistler was a phenomenal destination for meetings and events. They have a variety of hotels in varying price points and ample meeting space at most hotels, or utilization of the lovely conference center,” says Kristen Pinyerd with etc group out of Arlington, who was also on the December FAM trip.
Five, full-service hotels have nearly 80,000 square feet of meeting space: Four Seasons Resort Whistler (12,695 square feet), Hilton Whistler Resort & Spa (10,406 square feet), Westin Resort and Spa (20,000 square feet), the Nita Lake Lodge (5,210 square feet) and Fairmont Chateau Whistler (32,000 square feet). In addition, the hamlet has a convention center with 40,000 square feet of meeting and event space and a variety of unique venue spaces that can be reserved, as well, including the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre and the Audain Art Museum. You can even choose a mountaintop perch for your event at the Roundhouse Lodge or a VIP gathering at one of the resort’s Olympic venues, such as the Whistler Sliding Centre.
“I was pleasantly surprised,” says Pinyerd about the town. “So much [is] offered in such a small area. I love that you can easily navigate around the town on foot, and each hotel has buses if you need transport that way.”
What to Do
For the sports enthusiasts in your group, Whistler is a veritable playground. Ski season is generally from late November through the middle of May, weather and snow permitting, so hitting the slopes is always a good call in the late fall through late spring. Spring, summer and fall are also prime times for hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, paddleboarding and golfing. Your group can even book a private ax-throwing party. Yep. You read that right.
If your group not interested in working up a sweat, no worries. Whistler has plenty of nonsports activities as well. Take time for a shopping excursion in Whistler Village, tour the arts and cultural museums or take a nighttime stroll through the Vallea Lumina. Open mid-June through mid-October, it’s a multimedia night walk through the forests of Cougar Mountain. And, of course, there’s always the option to spend a day at one of the resort’s spas for pampering and relaxing after a long day and an even longer agenda.
At night, immerse yourself in Whistler’s nightlife. Your group can head to Bearfoot Bistro for a frosty flight of vodka in its subzero Ketel One Ice Room or try a brewery tour and tasting at Coast Mountain Brewing Co.
“Whistler really has something to offer for everyone—and year-round! If you like the outdoors, you’re set! If you like to spa, you’re set! If you like to shop, you’re set,” says Pinyerd.
And of course, zip lining. You have to try the zip lining.