Now skiers staying in Blackcomb Village no longer need to zigzag up the mountain on shorter lifts to reach the top or to catch the incredible Peak to Peak Gondola that connects the two mountains from their highest points.
Roughly two years ago the hotel wrapped up a $23 million renovation, which appears to have focused mostly on a handful of new luxury suites in the hotel’s dramatic turret, plus a complete revamp of Portobello restaurant.
Most rooms, however, still exude the vintage frumpiness of grandma’s house circa 1983. Although some might call it timeless, I find the decor old-fashioned. That said, my room was very comfortable and spacious. It does appear, however, that the bathroom has been refreshed, perhaps the only major thing that was changed in most rooms during that latest major overhaul.
The Fairmont has three restaurants, only two of which I sampled during my four-day visit. One is the aforementioned Portobello, which was so good that I kept coming back here instead of getting around to trying the third restaurant. Portobello is a casual cafeteria-style restaurant with a full-service bar (and outstanding mixology). I am normally not a fan of cafeterias, but this one is truly outstanding. At dinner the roster of meats is epic: massive slow-smoked briskets, roasted porchetta, prime rib of beef, rotisserie chickens, barbecue pork ribs… At breakfast it’s wonderland of pastries, omelets and porridge. It’s a Renaissance food orgy, and the quality is superb. It’s the perfect solution, too, for a 539-room hotel packed with ravenous skiers.
The Grill Room is a restaurant within a restaurant. The main all-day restaurant is called Wildflower. The Grill Room is tucked into the back of Wildflower and serves as an intimate luxury steakhouse and the most romantic spot in the hotel. The steaks are superb, carved raw from sub-primal cuts at at the table by the chef so that you can inspect several different types of steaks, choose the one with your favorite marbling and select exactly how thick you want it sliced. Service in the Grill Room is impeccable.
The best dining options outside the hotel are in Whistler Village, which is just a short stroll through the towering pines and across the creek. In good weather it’s a beautiful 15 minute ramble. If you prefer not to walk, the hotel offers complimentary rides in their fleet of white BMWs, but vehicles can’t access the pedestrian-only promenades of the village, so they’ll have to drop you off at the outer circle.
Confession: I had intended to stay at the Four Seasons, which is located directly in front of the Fairmont (or behind, in reference to the mountain) but the entire Four Seasons was closed for a private buyout. Dumb luck, I guess. It’s hard to imagine that service at the Four Seasons (the reason I love that brand so much) could have been any better than what we received at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler. And given that the Fairmont has the better location of the two, I would most likely stay here again the next time I return to Whistler.
Bottom line: Although the room decor does feel dated, everything is very comfortable. The restaurants are so good there’s really no reason to leave the hotel. And the service throughout, from pre-arrival to check-out, is superb.
Rates from roughly $210 USD. 4599 Chateau Blvd., Whistler BC Canada; 604.938.8000; fairmont.com/whistler