The Washington State DOT website showed that wait times for crossing the Canadian border were 10 minutes. Set with optimistic expectations for a speedy border crossing, we bundled into the already-packed car and set off. The drive from Seattle to Whistler, BC is 215 miles. It can take anywhere between 4.5 and 6 hours: depending on general freeway traffic, lines at the border and the number of times your kids need bathroom stops. It is not for the faint of heart. But, the destination is truly worth the effort – especially in winter. Whistler is the largest ski resort in North America (measured using skiable area): two mountains and 8,100 acres of skiing pleasure.
I signed up for the snowreportÂ in mid November. Yes, some people may think this is a form of self-torture. Knowing that it’s snowing in Whistler doesn’t help when the family planner is full as far out as the eye can see! But Lady Luck was on my side: we did not have any Thanksgiving plans and the first snowreport came in with exciting news that the resort was likely to open before Thanksgiving. I opened my web browser toÂ WhistlerBlackcomb.com and started planning a trip for the Thanksgiving weekend. Although I usually do find the planning tools available on this website the best place for trip planning, this time I ended up calling the booking agents at Whistler Central Reservations. With their help, I was able to take advantage of two different early-season deals: free ski passes for the kids (one per adult ski pass) and one night free accommodation. Yoo-hoo!
We stayed at the Delta Whistler Village Suites ($187/night for a 2-bed suite with a full kitchen). Our boys loved the pool and the hot tub. The kitchen was big enough for us to host Thanksgiving dinner for 8 with some friends. The shuttle that Delta runs all day long from the hotel door to the base of the gondolas was a welcome surprise on our first day out: coaxing sleepy boys and all their ski paraphernalia, rushing to get to ski school on time.
Snowsports in November are a rare and wonderful thing: you know that you’re lucky to be able to get out on the snow so early in the season; and yet the conditions can be challenging (bare rocks, tree stumps & ice). That said, the sun was shining and the snow-making machines were on every day. Even better: the lift lines were non-existant. The on-mountain photographers were busy every day, taking photos likely intended for holiday cards (see below!). Having tried Thanksgiving in Whistler once to such success, it may become a family tradition for us.Â