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Whistler — Other activities

Whistler Heli-Skiing (604-932-4105) and Coast Range Heliskiing (800-701-8744; 604-894-1144) in Pemberton are the local experts in heli-skiing. Venture beyond the ski area boundary for one or more days. Daily and multi-day backcountry ski and snowboard tours are available through Whistler Alpine Guides (604-938-9242) and Callaghan Country Wilderness Adventures (604-938-0616). Whether you’re new to the sport or an experienced climber, ice climbing with Whistler Alpine Guides (604-938-9242) will provide a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Hundreds of miles of logging roads are accessible for snowmobiling. Cougar Mountain Wilderness Adventures (604-932-4086) and Blackcomb Snowmobiles Ltd. (604-905-7002; 604-932-8484) have tours several times a day, plus evening rides. Canadian Snowmobile Adventures (604-938-1616) offers luxury evening dinner tours up Blackcomb Mountain. Cougar Mountain Wilderness Adventures (604-932-4086) also offers dogsledding. It’s very popular and usually sells out, so make reservations as early as possible.

Whistler is in a Coastal Temperate Rainforest, so touring the forest on ziplines across Fitzsimmons Creek is a natural. Ziptrek Ecotours (866-935-0001; 604-935-0001) offers a 2.5-hour tour, year round, that sends you whizzing along a recently expanded adventure with ten ziplines at speeds up to 40+ miles/hour about 200 feet above the creek. Zipsters are attached by body harness and carabiner to a steel pulley system—very safe—and the trip is as fun as anything you’ll do at Whistler. Step off into space and zip your way through the ecosphere of old growth forest. Anyone from kids to grandmothers to paraplegics can be accommodated by a knowledgeable, capable and gracious staff. This company also operates Treetrek, another year-round adventure. A spectacular network of suspension bridges, boardwalks and trails takes you from the forest floor to the upper forest canopy with views 150′ down to the white waters of Fitzsimmons Creek. Sign up at their kiosk inside Carleton Lodge or call the numbers above.

Whistler Bungee (604-938-9333) lets you take a 160-foot dive from a pedestrian bridge—and live to tell the tale. It’s about a 10-minute van ride from Whistler and is accessible only by snowshoe or snowmobile during the winter. The 1,000-foot Tube Park (800-766-0449; 604-932-3434) on Blackcomb Mountain is just a free Excalibur gondola ride up to the Base II Zone which is open daily from noon to 8 p.m. Served by a tube-friendly, carpet-style lift, ride lanes range from green to black and are perfect for all ages.

Covered tennis courts are at the Delta Whistler Resort. Ice skating, swimming and drop-in hockey take place at Meadow Park Sports Centre (604-938-7529) a few miles north of the village. Sleigh rides are offered by Blackcomb Sleighrides (932-7631) and Whistler Outdoor Experience Co. (604-932-3389).

The Whistler Activity and Information Centre (604-932-2394) provides information and reservations for these and other activities. Or try Explore Whistler Adventures in the Westin Resort & Spa (604-935-3445; Village Concierge (604-938-0999) books everything. Drop by their store on the Village Stroll or at Explore Whistler in The Westin Resort.

If the weather’s bad, or for après-ski, visit the indoor Great Wall Climbing and Guiding Centre (604-905-7625) where you can literally climb the wall (in the Sundial Hotel, lower level).

Many hotels offer in-room massages and many salons offer limited spa services. You can get a Shiatsu massage in some of the on-mountain lodges during peak lunch hours. The spas listed below are more full-service spas, although some lack some of the amenities now common at such spas, such as quiet rooms and dedicated locker-room and health club facilities.

The independent Vida Wellness Spa (800-401-4018; 604-938-2086) in The Fairmont Chateau Whistler shares the locker rooms and health club facilities, including indoor and outdoor pools, hot tubs, steamrooms, sauna and exercise equipment, with the hotel. It makes up for the lack of private facilities and a quiet room with excellent service and a variety of treatments, including body wraps and exfoliations, massages and facials. Ayurvedic treatments, such as Abhyanga Swedana treatment, get high marks.

The Spa (604-966-2620) at The Four Seasons Resort offers the ultimate experience with 15 treatment rooms, full-service health club, fitness studio, steam and sauna rooms and all five-star services.

Suzanne Johnston and her husband opened Whistler Body Wrap: The Spa (604-932-4710) in 1989. It’s a small, affordable day spa offering massages, wraps, facials, and salon services. If you crave more space and have the budget to splurge, opt for the Johnston’s more spacious and luxurious Avello Spa (604-935-3444) at the Westin Resort & Spa. Have a pedicure or manicure while looking out to the mountains, indulge in a wet or dry treatment, sip tea by the fire in the quiet room, or arrange for a spa lunch. Signature treatments include hot rock and Thai massages. The 144-jet Bouvier tubs melt away any soreness or tension. The spa provides acupuncture and Chinese massage treatments as well as consultations. Spa guests do not have use of the hotel’s health club facilities other than the locker room for changing.

At Nibbana Healing Spa (604-935-5772), statues of Buddha preside over each of nine treatment rooms along with symbols of earth, wind, air and fire. Flickering tea lights, warm colors and pieces of mirror reflecting from the dark blue ceiling create an atmosphere harmonious with the holistic philosophy practiced here. In addition to a wide choice of massage, facials, waxing and nail treatments Nibbana offers pilates, yoga, meditation, channeling and Reiki. This “spa with a soul” is in the lower level of the Glacier Lodge across from The Fairmont Chateau.

Taman Sari Royal Heritage Spa (604-938-5982), in Summit Lodge, features traditional Royal Javanese therapy treatments where “East meets West” in a Zen-like retreat. The usual offerings include exotic twists with Oriental, Javanese and Royal Pramesari massage, reflexology and many more spa packages.

The full-service Solarice Wellness Centre & Spa (888-935-1222; 604-935-1222) is a day spa in Whistler Village behind the Blackcomb Lodge. Solarice offers traditional spa services and wellness therapies such as Chinese medicine, yoga, pilates, tai chi, nutritional consultation, personal training and physiotherapy. A spa menu is available. Reserve treatments at least a week in advance.

Here’s a find: Maurice Young Millennium Place, called My Place (4335 Blackcomb Way; 935-8410 administration, 604-935-8418 box office), is Whistler’s non-profit arts and community center. Activities include exhibits, concerts, films and both fitness (Pilates, yoga, kickboxing, etc.) and educational classes and religious services; call or stop by for a schedule. The Youth Centre  has table and computer games, big-screen TV and a variety of classes and contests geared to teens. Teddy Bear Daycare is headquartered here.

Who needs an art museum when you have the quality and quantity of galleries available in Whistler? The Whistler Art Tour brochure is a guide to galleries, public art, businesses with art displays, as well as to local artists who will open their studios to the public. Pick up a copy at My Place or local galleries. A guided art tour is sometimes offered on Tuesdays; ask at the Black Tusk Gallery, at 4293 Mountain Square in the skier’s plaza at the base of Whistler (604-905-5540). The Path Gallery (604-932-7570) at 122-4338 Main Street in Village North features fine and traditional artwork by First Nations artists including masks, totems, drums, jewelry and prints.

Shopping is plentiful and we could write an entire chapter! But just enjoy the thrill of discovery. Here are a couple of invaluable finds for those of you renting equipment or suffering boot pain: Wild Willies Ski Club (604-938-8036) has three locations in Whistler where you can find the best price points for renting equipment and some good buys. McCoo’s (604-932-2842), near the gondolas in the main village, has a tiny work bench in the back and a treasure of a bootfitter named George, who works miracles on those pain-causing ski boots. Skitch Knicknacks and Paddywacks, 4222 Village Square, carries a funky and fun selection of Canadian-made crafts. At the Olympic-made-famous Roots in Whistler Village you just might find some merchandise for the upcoming 2010 Whistler Olympics. And if you’re looking for that perfect outfit, don’t miss Open Country in The Fairmont Chateau. They have what everyone in Canada is wearing…washable leather! Jeans, slacks, jackets. Yes, just throw those garments in the washing machine and the dryer. Too good to be true. Expressions provides a great rainy day activity: You Paint It Ceramics. You pick a pattern, or do a freehand paint job, and pick up your mug, bowl or whatever after the glaze is fired. It’s in the Stone Lodge, unit 125 at 4338 Main St., Marketplace. If you’re into authentic Northwest Coast art, the Black Tusk Gallery, at 4293 Mountain Square in the skier’s plaza at the base of Whistler, is a must. Experience the works of leading native artists in the forms of potlatch masks, totem poles, bowls, jewelry and sculptures. A fine selection of artisan crafts is carried at Mountain Craft Gallery. Collectors of artist-made Teddy bears will want to visit Bear Pause. Rogers’ Chocolates is a haven for chocoholics.

The local medical clinic at Town Plaza (604-905-7089) is open seven days a week. For serious emergencies (8 a.m.-10 p.m.) call the Whistler Health Care Centre (604-932-4911). Whistler Dental (604-932-3677) offers emergency services, as does Creekside Dental (604-938-1550).