A short journey up the 'Sea-to-Sky Highway' from Vancouver, Whistler is British Columbia's (and arguably North America's) leading winter resort. Whistler was a major venue for the 2010 Winter Olympics but, in keeping with many of North America's finest, summer also sees Whistler throw off the winter-wear and blossom as a playground for hikers and bikers.
To the skiing first. On the two mountains of Whistler and Blackcomb there are groomed runs for every standard of skier - more than one could cover in a week - plus tree runs, steep couloirs and superb backcountry (North American speak for off-piste) experiences in areas such as the Flute Bowl. Snowboarders are also well catered for, with well-maintained parks, half-pipes (one floodlit) and some excellent free-riding.
Whistler also makes an excellent family ski destination, and beginners are in the safe hands of the international ski school. The good news is that we know Whistler inside and out, and appreciate that this is less a ski resort and more of an all-round winter playground, with all kinds of activities on offer. We can arrange snowmobile adventures and heli-skiing or, for more peaceful pursuits, guided snowshoeing tours and cross-country skiing along trails through breath-taking alpine scenery.
Come summer, the scenery is no less breath-taking, but the activities on offer are - unsurprisingly - a little different. Whistler's many mountain lakes mean visitors can lie on the beach, fish or explore by kayak, canoe or stand up paddleboard. The main events, however, are the fabulous and extensive networks of hiking and biking trails through the beautiful mountain scenery. Use the record-breaking PEAK 2 PEAK gondola system to zip between Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, and enjoy 30 miles of well-maintained trekking trails. Alternatively, bikers should head downhill to the valley between the peaks on the paved valley trail, or take on the famous network of routes through the Whistler Mountain Bike Park. Golfers can also take their pick from four local courses.
Whatever the season, after all these exertions you'll have earned drinks and dinner, and Whistler has some excellent restaurants and bars, both on and off the mountain. Enjoy everything from world class Italian and fancy French cuisine to sizzling steaks and succulent seafood at some of Canada's finest eateries, and for après-ski or après-bike/hike the town offers everything from cocktail bars to pubs and clubs featuring international DJs.
Re-reading all that, we might just upgrade Whistler to best resort in the world status.
Paul Morrison/Whistler Blackcomb photos: 1,3,5,8,9,11,12,13,15
Brian Finestone/Whistler Blackcomb photo: 16
David McColm/Whistler Blackcomb photos: 6,7
Justa Jeskova/Whistler Blackcomb photos: 4,10,14
Andrew Doran/Whistler Blackcomb photo: 18
Neil Brown/Whistler Blackcomb photo: 17
Robin O'Neill/Whistler Blackcomb photo: 2