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Ringo Boitano: Whistler Blackcomb Resort
the writer at the ski resort of Whistler Blackcomb with the Coast Mountains in the background, Whistler, B.C.

After the Olympics –
A Return to Whistler
Blackcomb Resort

Story by Ringo Boitano
Photos by Deb Roskamp

've always enjoyed seeing how a city or resort has changed after hosting a World's Fair or Olympics. I was barely out of kindergarten when Seattle began preparing for the 1962 World’s Fair. Watching the cityscape change before my eyes as the Space Needle began its ascent to the heavens, I could see that the city would never be the same, going from a sleepy port town to a world-class travel destination. Though I was unable to attend Vancouver's and Whistler Blackcomb Mountain's 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, I couldn't wait to see the changes. A stunning four-season alpine resort nestled in the Coast Mountains, Whistler Blackcomb has long been my favorite ski resort. I had hoped that the Olympic transformation would not be too dramatic; not spoiling its attractive mix of cosmopolitan amenities and pristine beauty in an easy, low-key atmosphere.

view of the Coast Mountains and the valley below from a ski slope at Whistler Blackcomb

Whistler Blackcomb Today

Returning to Whistler Blackcomb Resort last winter, I am happy to report that there have been changes, but ones that only make the experience better -- without destroying what makes Whistler Blackcomb one of the top ski resorts in North America as rated by skiers and ski publications alike.

The Sea to Sky Highway

Highway 99 from Vancouver to Whistler has been upgraded to a quick one and a half-hour car or bus travel time, complete with new passing lanes, wider shoulders, median barriers, and improved intersections. There's plenty of space on the side of the road for spectacular photo opportunities.

PEAK 2 PEAK gondola at Whistle Blackcomb

After stretching my legs in the pedestrian-only Whistler Village, I was delighted to find that it was still very much the enchanting alpine-style hamlet which featured over 90 restaurants and 200 shops.

I was excited, too, to see the newest addition: PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola. Established in December 2008, the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola links Blackcomb and Whistler Mountains together at their peaks, boasting the longest and highest unsupported lift span in the world. An engineering marvel, it covers 1.88 miles, taking barely 11 minutes to cross, giving skiers and boarders quicker and easier options for skiing on both mountains. It's also ideal for the non-skier to just bask in the alpine beauty, not to mention giving summer travelers’ better access to hiking trails.

Whistler central village
Courtesy: Whistler Tourism

The Song Remains the Same

sniffle station at Whistler Blackcomb

Sitting at an outdoor Village eatery, I read the recent Whistler Blackcomb brochure. There are still twelve magnificent bowls, three glaciers and more than 200 marked trails. Whistler Blackcomb has the distinction of receiving the most skier and boarder visits in North America, but lift lines continue to be the shortest with the most extensive high-speed lift systems in the world.

The mountain can also fulfill every extreme need, with snowmobiling, Helix-skiing and Helix-snowboarding, and even authentic dog sledding. For the Nordic skier, who yearns to get away from the madding crowd, there are over 80 miles of cross-country paradise. If you're a rookie skier or simply need to brush-up on your skiing skills, Whistler Blackcomb offers a world-class Adult Snow School with instructors that will show you the best techniques and terrain to suit your ability level.

fresh bear claw marks on tree trunk, Whistler B.C.

Winter, though, is not the only season to enjoy the resort. Fall, spring and summer are superb times for hiking, biking, championship golf, canoeing, guided fishing trips, nature walks or extreme sports like white water rafting and all-terrain vehicle excursions.

the staff of the Taman Sari Royal Heritage Spa at the heart of Whistler Village

The One Thing You Must Do in Whistler

The Taman Sari Royal Heritage Spa: For the ultimate après ski experience, there is nothing like this spa. It is, quite literally, the only authentic Javanese spa in North America. Located in the heart of the Village, the spa is modeled after a palace bathing house where generations of Javanese royalty enjoyed restorative health treatments. The exclusive and luxurious treatments combine water therapy and traditional herbs. There is no better way to end a day on the mountain.

Where to Eat in Whistler

Barefoot Bistro: Without a doubt, this is Whistler’s finest restaurant. Located just steps from the gondolas, owner Andre St. Jacques has created an establishment that is as much about having fun as it is about food and wine. Executive chef Melissa Craig is given free rein to cook modern Canadian cuisine, designed for the adventurous gourmand. The wine cellar, located directly below the dining room floor, is accessible to all guests by spiral staircase. Opening a Champagne bottle with a sword by hitting the lip of the bottle with the blade, which severs the collar from the bottle’s neck is called “Sabrage,” dating back to the Napoleonic Era. Napoleon, a lover of Champagne, once said, “Champagne! In victory one deserves it; in defeat one needs it.” I would add that a Champagne toast is also a fitting way to end a day of battling the slopes and saying a fond farewell to Whistler Blackcomb Resort – still my favorite ski resort.

Related Articles:
Whistler Stop; Vancouver: Then and Now; Taos Ski Valley; Big Bear Lake Skiing; Victoria on a Whim; Sun Valley Ski Resort

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Feedback for Ringo

I love Ringo's piece on historic hotels. I once stayed at the Laurentian in Montreal - is it still around, is it historic? And then there was the Heups in Bismark.

It is interesting that two of your entries are in CANADA.

Brent, Seattle, WA

It's no mystery that you are great at what you do.

Sandee, Seattle, WA

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The Mystery on the Oasis pics are very funny!

Ramon, Kansas City, MO

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Ha ha ha ha your "schtick" Ringo!!

Dolly, Las Vegas, NV

Hello the travelling Boitano's hope you enjoy. Best wishes.

Elsa Magdalena Berno-Boitano, Laussane, Switzerland

My Irish roots understand terrible beauty. So do my human roots. The concept has such a ring of truth to it, doesn't it? Great article, Ringo. I hope to get to Ireland eventually, and thanks for blazing the trail!

Sandeee Bleu, Seattle, WA

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No wonder I've been hearing all these wonderful stories about Ireland. I used to think that it was just for Irish Americans seeking their ancestral roots but your article seems to call out to the non-Irish like me. Fascinating and intriguing.

Peter Paul, Pasadena, CA

Thanks for this great post wow... it's very wonderful.

Key Logger, New York

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Lets not forget that the Marriot Harbor Beach is within walking distance to the world famous Elbo Room - Fort Lauderdale's oldest bar.

Jeff, Fort Lauderdale, FL

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Thanks for taking the time for the message and reminder. Indeed, I had a quick drink at the Elbo Room. My trip to Ft. Lauderdale would not have been complete without a visit to this historic institution.I have been reading about it for years, and was not disappointed. It felt like a real local's hangout.

- Ringo


I thoroughly enjoyed your article about Dick and Liz. I remember seeing that article back in the heyday of Life Magazine.

To remember the "behind-the-scenes" stories like that makes you genuine fan of the 60's. The famous couple's turbulent relationship was just a precursor of today's headline-grabbing media stars like Britney Spears and her colleagues. Life was simpler then. The paparazzis still had some sense of decency. You "coulda" been a good paparazzi. I say "coulda" because you kept this to yourself all these many years.

Looking forward to other media trivia you can remember.

Peter Paul, South Pasadena, CA

Hey, Ringo –

Enjoyed your article on Antarctica --- cool photos, too. One thing, you mentioned that Ushuaia in Argentina is considered the most southern city in the world. I read that Chile lays claim to that distinction, with Punta Arenas, the southernmost city in the world.

Mick, Greenbay, WI

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Mick –

Now that football season is over --- I’ve often wondered what you Packer fans did in the off season ---- it’s great that you took the time to visit TravelingBoy. Great question, unlike my older brother, I adore all lamb products, and Patagonian Lamb --- cooked in a restricted area at the restaurant in an opened wood-fueled fire pit --- is amazing. The chef actually uses an ax to carve it. Frankly, I found it superior to Norwegian fjord lamb, Irish Burren lamb and even those much esteemed creatures down in New Zealand. The crab in Ushuaia is the other thing to eat. Wait a sec, you asked about Punta Arenas vs. Ushuaia as the furthermost city in the world. Well, they both have little disclaimers re populations --- you know, what’s a city, which one is a town, ect – so better let Chile and Argentina brass it out. They seem to be able to argue about any subject.

- Ringo

Ed Boitano's travel blog/review
Journey to the Bottom of the Globe: Exploring the White Continent of Antarctica

nguins on  shore as writer's cruise ship passes by, Antarctica
As a travel journalist I am constantly asked what are some of my favorite travel experiences. The list is endless. But there is one destination that seems to raise the most eyebrows. That destination is a cruise to Antarctica. Sadly, that cruise line I was on is no more, but today there is a plethora of cruise lines that offer similar packages. Here's a look back at my Antarctica cruise.

Go There

Tom Weber's travel blog/review
Treasures of Ireland: Food, Fun and Falconry at Ashford Castle (Dispatch #18)

sunset at Galway Bay

The Palladian Traveler soars above the crowd with a gal named Lima, cruises across a lake dotted with hundreds of islands, and feasts like a king in a regal dining room.

Go There

John Clayton's travel blog/review
Would You Believe She Can Carry 800 (Yes, 800!) People!

Emirates Airbus A-380
As she came around the corner we could not believe how big she was. Massive, and yet incredibly beautiful – almost elegant in fact. Her lines were so symmetrical she seemed to blend into a classic example of astonishing good looks. The other fact that amazed all of us was how quiet she was. We felt sure that with the obvious overwhelming power she evidenced, she'd be extra loud. It's a cliché, but she was as quiet as a church mouse – or "as quiet as dreaming trees."

go there

Ringo Boitano's travel blog/review
Highway 49 Revisited: Exploring California's Gold Country

aurora borealis lights up the night sky near Fairbanks
In the 1840s, the population of California was only 14,000, but by 1850 more than 100,000 settlers and adventurers had arrived from all over the world – and they came for one reason: gold. James Marshall had discovered the first gold nugget at Sutter’s Mill in El Dorado County, creating the largest gold rush in history.

go there

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