Every year, Whistler seems to be on everyone's list as one of the best ski resorts for families. We couldn't agree more. Planning a ski trip to Whistler with kids was much easier than I thought, and this ski trip was one of our best yet. The ski-in ski-out accommodation, excellent food choices, and endless terrain are all great reasons to ski here. Keep reading to found out why Whistler Blackcomb is one of the best ski resorts for families.
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Keys to a Great Ski Trip to Whistler With Kids
I typically start thinking about planning our next ski trip about as soon as we get home from the last one. It’s not because I’m in any sort of hurry. It’s just that I want to go back immediately. We have so much fun! Seriously though, don’t wait too long to start planning. Like most things travel related, you have to book early to get the best deals.
Book early for the best deals on Whistler with kids
As a family who has to vacation within the confines of school breaks, it’s imperative that we get the dates locked down early. As soon as we know when the spring break dates are, I’m on the computer looking at accommodation options.
Obviously, spring break is prime ski season, so finding accommodation is key. Booking as early as possible is always recommended to lock in the best deal. We try to leverage points in hotel loyalty programs for this.
Be sure to check out our guide on the best Whistler lodging for families. We'll help you narrow down your options and find you a great hotel for your family ski vacation to Whistler.
Finding a Hotel Close to the Slopes
Convenience is always key for us, so hotels close to the slopes are high on our priority list. According to their website, Whistler has 16 properties that offer this kind of access to the slopes. When convenience is a priority, this makes it very easy for families to narrow down the options.
For those wanting proximity AND a great value using points like we did, you have several options. We stayed in the Westin Resort and Spa Whistler Village (it was fantastic), but there are hotels by Hilton, Marriott, and Holiday Inn as well. There are lots of great choices when it comes to Whistler hotels, so keep an eye out for deals. If one comes along, don’t hesitate to book, because it will likely be short-lived.
Consider Your Rental Situation
Several hotels (including the Westin) offer an on-site ski concierge to handle your Whistler ski rentals. We LOVE this feature, and we know you will to. Essentially, the rental shop is at the hotel, and you get fitted and rent your equipment right there. When you’re done skiing for the day, they have an easy drop off area where you check in your equipment, and they hang it up to dry. The next day, just go get your stuff, strap it on, and away you go. There’s no substitute for warm, dry ski boots!
This service is obviously great for families with young kids who aren’t able to carry their own equipment. If you don’t want to get stuck carrying your kids’ skis everywhere, this is a lifesaver. Consider looking for hotels that offer this service.
Finding Great Deals for Families - Kids ski free!
One of the best reasons for families to consider a ski trip at Whistler is their family package. Kids under 12 get to ski, stay, and rent for free with each adult, which is a great deal! Skiing is an expensive endeavor, so I love it when ski resorts give families incentives to visit! You can read more about that offer here.
Even though we booked our hotel on points, the hotel concierge reached out to us via e-mail and asked us if we were going to be participating. I didn’t think we could because we booked the hotel separately, but that was not the case. I was relieved and excited that the Westin took the time to extend this offer to us, and I appreciate the excellent service!
Simply call the hotel that you are staying with, get in touch with the activities desk or the concierge, and they can get you fixed up. This offer will expire on August 31st, so don’t wait. Our family saved several hundred dollars on our trip in lift tickets and rentals over four days because of this deal, so don’t miss out!
Skiing 4 days or more?
If you plan on skiing for four days or longer, consider purchasing an Epic Pass. Passes are sold in 4-day, 7-day, or unlimited varieties and could save your family some money, especially if you plan on skiing over Christmas and can't use the 'kids ski free' tickets. Epic passes don't have blackout dates, and can be split between any of Vail's resorts including Whistler Blackcomb! They are also a great deal for families who ski more than once per season and want to ski at different resorts.
Great terrain at Whistler for kids
Whistler resort is actually made up of two areas – Whistler mountain and Blackcomb mountain. It is immense. In fact, it is North America’s largest ski resort. It has been rated by SKI magazine as the #1 overall resort for 2016, and I can’t really argue. It’s amazing.
Many resorts are pretty, or have good craft beer, or boast about fresh powder all the time, but that’s not what I’m looking for on a family ski trip with young kids. I want to know if they have lots of easy-to-ski, family-friendly terrain.
Your Whistler lift tickets will give you access to both Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, and both offer nice easy groomers. Everyone will be happy.
At many resorts, the green runs are quarantined off around the ski school areas, or there are not many greens at all. Sometimes resorts have a green run that just zig-zags all over the mountain and it's flat - terrible for cruising. Whistler doesn’t have this problem. Due to the sheer size of the place, there is a lot of easy terrain for beginners sprinkled throughout the resort. This makes for a great change in scenery and keeps everyone from getting bored doing the same 3-4 runs all day long.
Other Great Features for Families
Peak 2 Peak Gondola
This remarkable feat of engineering is the best way for families to get from one mountain to the other.
Just look at these stats from Whistler:
World’s longest unsupported span for a lift of this kind at 3.024km/1.88miles
*Guinness World Record
World’s highest lift of its kind at 436m/1,427ft above the valley floor.
*Guinness World Record
I can assure you that you will want to ride this more than once. If you decided that you were done skiing for the day and just wanted to ride the gondola back and forth, you would be well within your rights.
World Class Ski School at Whistler for Kids
Whistler offers an amazing array of programs ranging from beginners to experts. They offer kids camps, family lessons, group lessons, and MAX4 group lessons. It doesn’t matter what your age or skill level, Whistler has you covered. Rather than try to discuss all the options here, I’ll point you to their site. Although we did not take any lessons this time around, I was impressed with the instruction that I saw, and from what I’ve read and heard from others.
Great Family ‘Extras’
Whistler has done a great job of catering to families, and their enchanted Tree Fort and Magic Castle are two great features. These cool parks are great places to kick off your skis for a bit and explore. Located on the mountain, they offer a cool retreat to get away from the crowds and have some fun family time in the snow.
Towards the bottom of the mountain is the tube park where families can race inner tubes down the mountain.
For a bit of a break during meal times, Nintendo has sponsored gaming lounges where kids can pull up a stool and play games for free. They have three lounges located on-mountain at Rendezvous Lodge on Blackcomb, Roundhouse Lodge on Whistler, and off mountain at the Wizard Grill at the Base of Blackcomb.
On Sunday nights, guests can attend the free Fire and Ice Show which features Whistler’s best skiers and snowboarders flying through a flaming hoop doing tricks and aerial stunts. It was a lot of fun, and solicited lots of ‘ooohs’ and ‘ahhhhs’ from the kiddos. Bundle up, get some hot cocoa, and enjoy the show!
Part of what makes Whistler a great place to stay is certainly the village. With its cobblestone pavers, unique shops, great food, playgrounds, and ice skating rink, you really couldn’t ask for more. Every evening there was something new to see or taste, and we loved browsing around the shops after dinner.
The kids had fun ice skating at the rink, and taking pictures with the Olympic rings.
In addition to shops and restaurants, Whistler has grocery stores which allowed us to stock up on a few essentials. It was nice to be able to fix breakfast and lunch in the room to save some money (Whistler can be pricey).
The apres scene here is really great, and most things are kid-friendly. We were excited to sample our first Canadian poutine while we were here – yum! If you don’t have kids, things will get rowdy later at night, but our hotel was at the opposite end of most of that, and we weren’t bothered at all.
Travel and Lodging to Whistler with kids
The nearest airport to Whistler, BC is Vancouver. If you’re arriving by air, fly into Vancouver International Airport (YVR) and from there, rent a car (like we did) or take a shuttle up the Sea to Sky highway to Whistler resort.
There are plenty of options, and if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can even transfer by helicopter! Check here for the best prices on a good list of airport transfer options.
When we were first putting this trip together the previous summer, I happened to find award space on American Airlines and so we jumped on it. I used 200,000 AA miles and $58.40 per ticket to fly the four of us round trip in business class.
For lodging, we stayed 5 nights at the Westin Resort and Spa Whistler Village. This is a Category 5 SPG property. When booking on points for five nights, SPG only charges you for four (which is a very generous benefit), so we stayed for 64,000 SPG points total. This is a great deal at a hotel that (as of this writing) goes for ~$400 USD per night during peak ski season. I’ll take that deal all day long!
One of the Best Ski Vacations We’ve Had!
For families wanting to ski Whistler, go for it! We had such a great time and were blown away by the size and grandeur of the entire experience. Whistler lodging is some of the best I’ve seen at a ski resort, and the village was like no other. Even with dwindling snow, Whistler’s elevation ensured that the skiing up top was still great, and the size if the mountains gave us endless ways to enjoy the snow. Whistler for kids is awesome, so start planning!
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