As a professional incentive travel and international meeting Planner, it is my job to have knowledge about the destinations that people want to travel to, and in turn, recommend those destinations to companies that want to recognize and reward their top talent. I need to find the destinations that intrigue, inspire, and motivate employees to reach certain goals, which then qualifies them for that BIG reward. As I’m not a skier, or snowboarder, or into any winter sport to be honest, my trip to Whistler was intended to be purely educational for my job, with perhaps an opportunity to throw in a neat experience to check off the bucket list.
I am now questioning said bucket list, because Whistler not only should have made that list, it should have been pretty close to the top! Without trying to sound cliché … I truly felt like I was on top of the world… A serene, stunning, clean, and refreshing world!
With no shortage of big-name hotels to choose from, you can surely take advantage of your favourite Hotel brand if you’d like. However from my experience in Whistler, if you’re looking for a property based on location, experience, or gastronomy, my vote definitely falls with the incredible Westin Resort & Spa, Whistler. For simplicity sake, I’d like to say it’s a two-minute walk from the hotel lobby to the bottom of Whistler Mountain. The hotel itself has been recently renovated with meeting space that hits the mark for small intimate board meetings, large groups of 600, and comfortably every size in between.
With killer views and a wide menu, the Grill & Vine, often lands the “top spots” list for dining in Whistler and is absolutely a great locale to start your day, or to unwind with a glass of wine!
A few other quick facts on the hotel:
Like all great destinations, the way in which we activate the experience can make or break the event, and Whistler pulls out ALL the stops when it comes to creating top notch options for groups of all sizes.
With the opportunity to go dog-sledding (definitely a bucket list item checked!), my mind began racing with the incredible ways to incorporate this activity into an incentive program. Even for non winter-lovers, nothing beats the thrill of being pulled through the forest by a team of very excited dogs, and when you think it can’t get any better, the trees open up and your eyes set on the extraordinary views of the vast mountain range. It was nothing like I had ever seen before… and again, my Planner mind raced… My groups NEED to come here!
I could rave endlessly about the destination that wasn’t on my bucket list, until I got there! Unforgettable memories like gliding to the top of Whistler Mountain in a cozy gondola, enjoying an amazing Buddha Bowl for lunch at Roundhouse Lodge, taking the Peak 2 Peak gondola over to Blackcomb Mountain, then gliding back down to the base in another cozy gondola. I was able to experience the thrill of the mountain top without strapping on a ski! Other highlights of my trip were taking my photo on the Olympic Podium, partaking in the wild experience they call “après” at 5pm when the mountains close down for the night, and of course the evening horse-drawn sleigh ride on Whistler Mountain with my husband! As expected, dining throughout Whistler Village meets all appetites with perfection: Fine dining, pubs, casual sit-down, family style – You name it. And of course, the SHOPPING!! Endless brand name stores carrying all the latest and greatest fashions and equipment!
This was undeniably a “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” destination for me. I never thought there would be so many thrilling and entertaining options for a non-skier, and I assumed I would leave with the same opinions as when I arrived. I am proud to say I couldn’t have been more wrong!
There is a solid truth in the old whistler slogan as it is truly so much more than a ski-town… “Come for the winter, stay for the summer”. I’ll definitely be back Whistler! Hopefully sooner, rather than later!