Needing a short dog friendly break out of town, I opted to head up to Whistler for a night.
Whistler is one of those places that can be insanely expensive, or fairly cheap, depending on what you do and how you do it and I opted for cheap.
Whistler is touted as a super dog friendly destination and for the most part, it is. There are dog bowls outside of every store/restaurant and a number of local businesses make a point to be extra welcoming to your dog.
My blog on booking accommodations still applies here but Whistler has one specific discount lodging site that beats them all: www.whistlerblackcomb.com – specifically under last minute deals. It is like Hotwire where you won’t know the hotel name until after you’ve booked but having stayed in almost 10 different places in Whistler/Blackcomb, I can assure you it really doesn’t matter. They’re all pretty similar.
Since I was travelling with two dogs and wanted to avoid the extra fees, I opted for the $159/night hotel allowing dogs free of charge, which ended up being the Westin.
When I googled the Westin I become even more excited about this spot. Not only do they allow dogs, but they claim to treat them as guests providing them with their own dog beds and bowls through their Heavenly Dog Program. Perhaps it was because I didn’t specify I had dogs on my reservation, or maybe the woman at check in didn’t feel as though my pups required any Very Important Pooch treatment, but other than the 3 page contract outlining all the rules and liabilities of having my dogs in their hotel, there was no other acknowledgement of them. The one rule I will note that I found disappointing was that I was unable to leave my dogs in the room alone for any period of time or they would bill me $30/half hour. Despite my dogs being crate trained, this was still a no. This meant no visit to their overcrowded pool facility for me.
Overall, the Westin was your typical Whistler hotel. Super comfortable bed, small kitchenette, great location, walking distance to everything and the standard pool/hot tub/gym/spa amenities. If you score a good deal it is as good as any hotel but i can’t go out on a limb to recommend them for their touted dog friendliness. The free of charge dogs was a bonus as most hotels charge a fee, but I think next time I’d opt for an Airbnb or VRBO rental that allows dogs to remain in the room.
Finding somewhere to eat with the dogs wasn’t as hard as I had imagined. Most restaurants in Whistler have dog friendly patios where you can keep your dog tied up on the outer side of the patio, still close to you. A special shout out to La Cantina which might be my new favourite spot in Whistler. Great patio, decent prices, and fantastic tex mex.
Wandering through the village stores was a pleasant surprise with most shops (that don’t serve food) allowing dogs.
I recommend going to vancouvertrails.com to get some fantastic hike ideas (note: dogs are not allowed at many whistler area hikes including newly banned from Joffre lakes so checking Vancouver trails is essential) however my plan was to keep this trip fairly low key so I opted just for the super short walk (can barely be called a hike) to the train wreck and then an afternoon stroll to Lost Lake where they conveniently have a canine beach. It was a toss up between going here, Alpha Lake or Rainbow Park which all have dog specific beaches or play areas. The canine beach at lost lake is tiny but is a fantastic spot to soak up some sun while your dog plays in the water.
Typically when I head to Whistler it is for specific activities (snowboarding, long hikes, Scandinave spa or hockey) but for a quick cheap getaway with dogs to relax at the lake in the sun, this is the spot.
Any google search or visit to the information centres will get you inundated with all the fun adventure attractions in Whistler but here are a few of my tips outside of all the hyped up touristy stuff:
– as mentioned, check out lodging deals at www.whistlerblackcomb.com
– to avoid expensive parking fees at your hotel, consider parking in lots 4 or 5 for free overnight in the summer (then $5 for the full day after 8 am) or at the library or conference centre. Keep the pay by phone info handy to avoid having to run to the parking lot at 8 am.
– Lululemon does a free yoga class in their store Sunday mornings – they even provide the mats.
– Whistler farmers market on Sundays in the summer is one of the best.
– Pure Bread is my absolute go to for decadent desserts.
– If you want a cheesy night of dancing but worry that you’re too old (ie over the age of 22) you’ll be pleasantly surprised by Buffalo Bills.
– Function junction is not to be overlooked as it houses the local breweries as well as the yyoga Whistler studio (if you’re a member in Vancouver your pass covers this studio)
– If you stay somewhere without a pool, the Fairmont in Blackcomb is one of the easier ones to sneak into as a non guest and the Four Seasons one of the nicest if you manage to get in.
– The skiing/snowboarding in Whistler is truly the best in Canada. I thought I’d give Sunshine in Banff another shot this past winter and was severely disappointed.