Travels with Rob McGeary in Whistler
Rob McGeary was born into the travel business. “Growing up a McGeary, travel was not only a vitally important component of our lives but the family passion. My father and grandfather both knew how travel could enrich our lives. It remains a privilege to have our guests trust in us to provide them with “once-in-a-lifetime” travel experiences and life-long memories,” he says. Rob still travels regularly and shares with us the wonders of a white Christmas in Whistler, Canada.
From an Australian point of view, Whistler has to be one of the best places in North America to have an authentic White Christmas experience. It’s a resort town in western Canada and the concept of a White Christmas really comes together with all the snow and its location at the base of massive (2,200-metre) Whistler mountain. The pristine white ski slopes emerge through the thick forests of cedar, spruces and pine trees. You almost expect Santa Claus to be around every corner!
I was there with my family in January 2018 and in the nine days we were there, 2.5 metres of snow fell. By the end of the month, eight metres had fallen … it’s a whole other world compared to our winter. They are very good at clearing the snow but in the town square there was a pile about eight metres high and my kids decided to scale it, slide down it and have a snowball fight.
The whole place has a lovely feel and atmosphere to it. Both Whistler and neighbouring Blackcomb were built as ski towns, but Whistler has all of the charm. There’s a lovely lane, the Village Stroll, that winds its way through the town. You can wander along it and discover restaurants and boutiques – everything from souvenir shops to high-end jewellery stores.
Apart from a couple of hotels, the buildings are generally no higher than two storeys – it certainly hasn’t been overdeveloped. There’s a really engaging atmosphere, with lovely lights, lots of timber and stone buildings, and a real diversity of people. One of the great things about Whistler is that it has become a year-round destination – people come to mountain bike and hike in the summer – which gives the town a real sense of life.
The Westin Resort & Spa ticks every box … it’s right in the middle of town (surrounded by restaurants and shops), the rooms are beautifully appointed, it features two pools, a renowned spa and a grand lobby. I enjoy hotels that reflect the environment they’re in, and this Westin does it really well. The substantial timber and stone building leaves you in no doubt that you’re in Canada’s Coast Mountains.
We did a snowmobile tour outside Whistler, and it was terrific. They guide you around what would be dirt trails in summer but were covered in snow when we were there. There’s the experience of driving the snowmobile - which is quite different – and then the experience of winding around the trails, going up hills and down hills and among the trees. You really get to appreciate the peaceful natural environment.
The gondola between Whistler and Blackcomb – known as the Peak 2 Peak – is a stunning piece of engineering. According to Guinness World Records, it is the longest gondola in the world, at 4.4 kilometres. You’re about 400 metres above the ground and the views are absolutely stunning – you’re going over the runs, watching the skiers, descending and climbing through the rocky crevices, among the tall pine trees. You never want it to stop.
Why not join us on APT's 15 Day Winter in the Rockies and Northern Lights tour, during which you’ll spend two nights in Whistler.