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
Worlds 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
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
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.
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.
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
Courtesy: Whistler Tourism
The Song Remains the Same
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
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 One Thing You Must Do in Whistler
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
Bistro: Without a doubt, this is Whistlers 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
bottles 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.
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
* * * *
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
* * * *
Lets not forget that the Marriot Harbor Beach is within
walking distance to the world famous Elbo Room - Fort Lauderdale's oldest
Jeff, Fort Lauderdale, FL
* * * *
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.
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
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
* * * *
Now that football season is
over --- Ive often wondered what you Packer fans did in the off
season ---- its 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, whats 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.
Journey to the Bottom of the Globe: Exploring the
White Continent of 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.
Treasures of Ireland: Food, Fun and Falconry at
Ashford Castle (Dispatch #18)
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.
Would You Believe She Can Carry 800 (Yes, 800!)
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."
Highway 49 Revisited: Exploring California's
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 Sutters Mill in El
Dorado County, creating the largest gold rush in history.