Whistler, first founded in 1966 is the largest ski resort in North America. Whistler draws people from all over the world to British Columbia’s stunning Fitzsimmons range of mountains and it’s no wonder. With 200 plus on-piste Ski runs it’s easily 50% bigger than its nearest competitor on this continent. Add to this a stunning village area that includes hotels, bars, restaurants and a variety of retail outlets, there is something to offer for everyone. If winter-sport isn’t your thing, then for a Summer destination Whistler also scores top marks with a list of activities a mile long. Hiking, Bear watching, Mountain-biking, climbing and fishing to name a few of the things you can take part in during the warmer seasons.
What does it offer the Digital Nomad?
- Location – Nestled in the beautiful British Columbia countryside, Whistler is located just two short hours from Vancouver city. Vancouver airport is classed as a major transport hub and offers connections not just across the American continent, but to destinations worldwide. Using the local bus service, airport shuttles or locally based car rental, its very easy to get in and out of the village. (Which is very handy if you need to escape the Whistler bubble for a short while). The views on the journey to Vancouver will keep you well entertained, travelling along the sea to sky highway is an experience not to be missed. Due to its close proximity to the west coastline of Canada, Whistler receives more than its fair share of weather, so it should keep all you powder hounds entertained.
- Accommodation – Whistler has a wide variety of lodging available, from the basic hotel room, to a fully catered bespoke ski chalet. As with most ski resorts, the further out of town you are, the cheaper the accommodation will become. For example property in the Creekside area of the resort is significantly more affordable than in the whistler main town. Many of the properties offer access to amenities such as gymnasiums, hot tubs or even outdoor heated pools. (Which is a fantastic experience when the snow is falling all around you). Generally the quality of property and accommodation you will find for rental is very high, due to the elevated prices to purchase in the area. Its very easy to find a short term holiday rental within the town from one of the major travel agents or a hotel booking website. If you are looking for a long term rental I would suggest looking at Owners Direct for an apartment, or a company like Ride on Whistler for a room in a shared house. I personally found a great deal on Owners Direct as the owner was willing to negotiate for a guaranteed income over the winter.
- Mountains – The Fitzsimmons range of mountains are simply breathtaking and offer some of the best skiing worldwide. Whistler boasts over 12 meters of snow every winter on average, you are almost guaranteed some good conditions to brag about. The on-piste skiable area consists of 35 green beginner runs, 110 intermediate blue runs, 35 advanced black runs, 20 expert double diamond black runs and several snow-parks to keep you busy. The 39 Ski lifts in Whistler Blackcomb consist of 5 gondolas, 13 high speed quad chairlifts, 5 standard chairlifts and 16 surface lifts allowing 65,507 skiers per hour. Outside of the Skiable boundary you will find some fantastic off-piste areas, but I would highly recommend you have the relevant safety equipment and a guide as its easily possible to get lost. My favourite out of bounds area is known locally as Million Dollar ridge, its an exceptional unpatrolled tree run that seems to go on forever. During the Spring is when the mountain really comes to life, literally! Whistler-Blackcomb is home to over 60 bears that awaken from their slumber as things start to warm. Seeing a bear majestically wondering through the trees maybe more of a common occurrence than you would expect. From mid may until the start of October, this area is transformed into one of the largest downhill mountain bike areas in the world.
- Village – Whistler village is spread across several areas – the main Village, the Village North and the Upper Village. All of the areas are interconnected by the pedestrian-only village walkways and are home to hundreds of shops and entertainment venues. Whether you are looking to shop for ski equipment, clothing or even mountain bike gear, there are great deals to be had. Whistler has a couple of supermarkets in the village but the prices can be quite high. If possible, I would recommend heading over to Squamish as the food pricing is much more reasonable. The variety of Cuisine offered in whistler village is simply outstanding, from a simple burger meal to Canadian fusion Sushi. It literally has everything! You will also find a very lively apres-ski scene. My recommendation would be to visit Merlin’s at the base of Blackcomb mountain, if you are also a fan of the European style drinking and dancing on tables. If you fancy continuing to party late, there are several nightclubs in the main village that will keep going until the small hours.
- Internet – Because of Whistler’s proximity to Vancouver, you will find super fast internet almost everywhere. Many of the Bars, Cafe’s and Restaurants offer free WiFi access to their customers, so working on the fly is relatively straightforward. Most lodgings in Whistler offer high speed internet, with access speeds up to 100Mbit. Plenty fast enough for any Digital Nomad! If you want to use the mobile networks many are now offering 4G LTE across all of the area. I went for a pay as you go Rogers Simm with data, although there are other providers worth looking at in the area. One thing worth remembering, mobiles in Canada have a local number and local mobile calls are cheaper. So its worth purchasing your Simm in Whistler rather than Vancouver upon arival. In Canada you also pay for receiving texts and calls, make sure you budget for this when buying credit.
- Co-working – Small businesses, freelancers, remote workers, and entrepreneurs are now able to work and play in the great outdoors as The Network Hub opens its first Whistler coworking space at 217 – 2063 Lake Placid Road, just steps away from Whistler Blackcomb’s Creekside Gondola. “When the opportunity arose to open a coworking space in Whistler, we jumped at the chance because it is something that outdoor loving members of our community have wanted for a long time,” explains Jay Catalan, co-founder of The Network Hub. “Whistler is an international hub for travelling business professionals, entrepreneurs, and mobile freelancers. Many of them require a workspace, either permanently or temporarily. The Network Hub can offer that flexibility and more, especially with our various coworking options.”
Starting out with about 10 to 15 workspaces, The Network Hub Whistler has all the amenities a winter sports enthusiast may ask for, including private showers, ski/snowboard storage, and close proximity to the Creekside Gondola – they can virtually ski-in, ski-out before or after work. In addition, members have access to a global network of coworking spaces for up to three days free via the Coworking Visa Map, curated by The Network Hub.”Coworking is a valuable resource for people who travel and live in Whistler, simply because you are creating a community with likeminded individuals and can bounce ideas off each other,” says Dan Harmon, The Network Hub Whistler’s community manager. “During their down time, they can then enjoy mountain biking, skiing, snowboarding, and other outdoor sports together. It’s also affordable and very flexible.” The 1,300 square feet space has a raw and authentic look, matching the cabin-feel of Whistler with upcycled materials and reclaimed BC wood. Once the location grows organically, more workspaces will be added. Hot-desks are rented at $10 per hour.