Choosing a vacation rental property in Whistler, BC

Whistler is perhaps the best ski resort in North America; there’s certainly nothing close for the vertical drop, acreage of groomed tracks, and variety of terrain for experts. However, there is also a huge variety of rental accommodation, and before making a choice, it would be best to educate yourself about the options and their implications.

Whistler properties vary along 3 key dimensions: size, quality/style, and location. We don’t need to say much about size; There are properties on the rental market ranging from 350m2 shoeboxes. ft to imposing villas of 6000 m2. foot or more. Quality is another matter entirely. Much of Whistler’s rental inventory was built in the 1980s and 1990s, when the resort’s profile was lower and cost was the name of the game. Most of the developments were built with indifferent design, cheap materials, poor quality fixtures and fittings, and unimaginative decor at best. You don’t want to spend your vacation in a condo with blue carpet, magnolia walls, Formica countertops, shiny brass bathroom fixtures, and garishly colored sofas.

So you need to look for one of the newer developments, such as Taluswood, which was built to a much higher specification, or you need to find a unit that has been recently renovated (or ‘Whistlerized’, as the local term has it). ‘Whistlerization’ typically involves the installation of slate floors, granite countertops, stone fireplaces, wood cabinets, beams and trim, and paint in autumnal earthy tones of café au lait, caramel, and burgundy. These units have much more of a mountain cabin feel. Whistler’s front line properties go a step or three further, with spectacular designs and very high quality finishes, although only a few of these properties are on the rental market.

Location is perhaps the key issue when choosing your rental in Whistler. Although it is only a small city, there are many different areas that you can choose for your vacation, and each of them has advantages and disadvantages.

The Village is the place for its proximity to bars and restaurants, and being a relatively short walk from the ski lifts. However, most of the inventory in the Village is small, with one- and two-bedroom units dominating the mix, and everything was built to an affordable standard. Finding a unit that has received a recent quality renovation is critical. There are also one or two units that are larger, but you may have to search a lot to find them.

Upper Village is located on the lower slopes of Blackcomb Mountain. This is the location of the ski-in, ski-out units that are also reasonably accessible to the Village. However, if you want to ski, be sure to check what this means. Some properties are actually on the slopes; others, still calling themselves ‘ski-in, ski-out’, can be up to a 5-minute walk away. Others are ski-in, but not ski-out.

The second main location for ski-in, ski-out units is Taluswood on the lower slopes of Whistler Mountain. This is a very exclusive area with a variety of accommodation, but all to a high quality standard using bare logs, natural materials and quality décor. Access to the slopes is very easy, with no more than a 2 minute walk from most properties. However, you do need a vehicle to get to the shops and restaurants, as this area is not served by the free shuttle or municipal buses.

The fourth location is Creekside, the original Whistler location. This used to be a very affordable area, but recent large investments have made it a decent alternative to the Village. The Creekside cable car is always less crowded than the lifts in the Village, and there is now a great selection of shops and restaurants in the town. The quality of accommodation is very mixed, with many unattractive older properties and some newer luxury villas that are the same as any in Whistler. You can walk to the lifts from most places in Creekside.

Finally, there is a selection of other locations, including Blueberry Hill, Nicklaus North and Alpine Meadows. Here you will usually find larger houses, but the slopes are not accessed and you will also have to drive to the Village. However, you will get more for your money in terms of the quality and size of the property here.

As with most things, it pays to consult an expert. If you are looking for lodging in Whistler, give the folks at Holiday Whistler a call. They will be able to help you with good advice.

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