Every year winter sports enthusiasts head to picturesque Whistler, British Columbia to ski, snowboard, and snowshoe. The Canadian mountain town even hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics. In the summer, visitors flock to Whistler for hiking, mountain biking, and lakeside fun. However, if you want to experience this gorgeous mountain resort town with fewer crowds and more affordability, you can check out Whistler in the off season. The best time to visit is in the fall.
As a guest of the Pan Pacific Whistler Village Centre, I discovered why Whistler makes for such an appealing fall destination. Not only are the luxury hotels more affordable and easier to reserve, but you're also able to sample more of the local cuisine with restaurants offering three-course prix fixe meals and enjoy Whistler's unique activities at offseason prices. Whistler in the off season is definitely worth adding to your must-do list.
The Pan Pacific Whistler Village Centre
Pan Pacific has two hotels in Whistler. The Pan Pacific Whistler Mountainside is closest to the mountain and the ideal choice for skiers. The Pan Pacific Whistler Village Centre is in the heart of the village and while they do offer offers amenities for skiers in the wintertime, since it closer to shopping and dining its the best choice for a fall getaway.
One of the appeals for travelers is the hotel's all-suite accommodations with full kitchens that come in a variety of configurations, such as studio, one-bedroom, two-bedroom, three-bedroom, plus penthouse suites. And, if you travel with your dog, pet-friendly rooms are available.
For my stay, I had a luxurious upper floor one-bedroom suite with plenty of storage space and a private balcony.
My private balcony quickly become one of my favorite spots as I had a great view of Whistler Village and the mountains beyond.
The suite's living room featured a comfortable seating arrangement surrounding a gas fireplace, as well as a dining table, and the full kitchen with a breakfast bar.
Hotel Perks You'll Love
Guests of the Pan Pacific Whistler Village Centre receive a complimentary breakfast that offers pastries, fruits, cold meats, cheese, eggs, and more. You can enjoy it in the dining area, which turns into a restaurant and bar called The Raven Room in the evening, or bring it up to your room.
There is also an onsite spa, fitness center, an outdoor heated L-shaped pool, and a couple of hot tubs. Being outside, the pool area takes full advantage of the surrounding mountain views.
If you are here for winter sports, they do have complimentary slope-side ski valet and lockers at their sister hotel. There is also free valet for bikers and golfers as well.
Guests can self-park or choose to use valet parking (check with the hotel as that might have changed due to safety precautions for COVID-19). There is a cost for both, and no matter what you choose, you'll most likely never use your car since everything is within walking distance or available via shuttle. If you don't want to pay for parking at all and don't mind a bit of a walk, there are free parking lots during the offseason.
Dining In Whistler
One of my favorite things about traveling is tasting my way through the culinary scene. During Whistler in the off season, it is much easier to sample a wide variety of dishes as many restaurants offer prix fixe menus. I dined at Bar Oso, a Spanish-influenced tapas bar a short walk from the hotel.
I started with robust and flavorful tomato bisque.
For my next course, I had the local beet salad, with fresh greens and chopped nuts.
One of my favorite seafood dishes is octopus and when I saw it as one of the prix fixe meal choices I had to order it. The succulent octopus came with potatoes seasoned with paprika and garlic. Yum! The portions were just the right size and I would highly recommend this restaurant in Whistler.
Discover Whistler's Cultural Heritage
British Columbia has a rich First Nation's heritage and to learn more you'll want to visit the Audian Art Museum and Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre.
The Audain Art Museum's collection focuses on the province's celebrated artists, however, they have an extensive First Nation's art collections both historical and contemporary. While there are many highlights, some of the standout pieces include the mask collection and a contemporary carved cedar dance screen.
If you would like to have a piece of this fabulous art in your home, we at Wander With Wonder recommend My Mondo Trading.
The Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre shares the past up to the present of the Squamish and Lil'wat Nations. Be sure to arrive on the hour as a Cultural Ambassador welcomes visitors with a song. After showing the group a short video, they guide you through the exhibits.
From the top floor, there is access to a forest walk with signage about local flora, fauna, and native words. Before you head outside, check with the front desk to see if they are offering any forest walk tours. Downstairs is a gift shop and cafe that serves indigenous-inspired dishes like this homemade venison chili with bannock (fry bread).
Whistler's Spa Like No Other
If you like to indulge in a spa day while traveling, then plan for some me-time at the Scandinave Spa Whistler. Tucked in the woods this traditional Scandinavian spa features multiple outside hot and cold baths, some with waterfall features, as well as sleeping rooms, hammocks, and lounge chairs next to cozy firepits.
You can also arrange for a massage and have a lite bite to eat at the cafe. Cell phones are not allowed in the pool area, giving you complete digital detox. After experiencing the spa myself, I recommend that you give yourself at least four hours if not more. If you are staying at the Pan Pacific Whistler Village Centre, arrange for drop-off and pick-up at the hotel front desk.
Whistler Spots For Adrenaline Lovers
If you want a dose of adrenaline while traveling, Whistler has two stops that don't disappoint.
If you love to zip line, book a zip tour with Superfly Ziplines. The course is a few miles outside of town at Cougar Mountain, but the bus picks you up and drops you off downtown. Once there, you'll have a short safety demo and then jump into a 4X4 to head up the mountainside where there are spectacular vistas in every direction. The course has a total of four zip lines, and some are side-by-side zip lines where you can race.
If you've ever wanted to learn how to wield an ax, head to Forged Axe Throwing. Voted as the #1 group activity in Whistler, this is an experience everyone will love. As a first-timer, my guide made my solo experience super fun and brought in another group for some competition game throws.
Family-Friendly Adventures in Whistler
In 2019, Vallea Lumina—a multimedia night walk—debuted in Whistler. Located at the Superfly Zipline basecamp, tours are scheduled at specific times each night. However, you walk the path through the woods to follow story clues, listen to songs, and watch engaging visual displays at your own pace. Be sure to dress for the weather as it is all outside, wear sturdy shoes, and be ready to do some uphill climbing at the beginning.
A Gondola All To Yourself? Yes, Please!
One of the perks of visiting Whistler in the offseason is that the Peak 2 Peak 360 Experience gondola ride lines are very short and you are likely to get a gondola all to yourself! That also means you'll be able to capture one of Whistler's most Instagramable spots—the Inukshuk—with no one in the photo.
Afterward, pop into the in the Umbrella Bar for lunch or a cocktail to warm up and take in the snow-capped views.
If You Go to Whistler Village Centre
I thoroughly enjoyed my two-day stay at the Pan Pacific Whistler Village Centre. Whistler in the off season gave me a chance to experience the splendor without the crowds.
My suite afforded me plenty of space and personal comforts like the cozy fireplace and private balcony with breathtaking mountain views. Being in the hub of the village, I walked to restaurants, shops, museums, and could easily catch the shuttle or meet at pick-up locations for activities like zip-lining. For travelers wanting to experience this resort town, the hotel is the perfect place to be close to it all.
Note: As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with accommodations and meals for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.