Although I have been luxuriating in deep, sound sleeps, my internal clock keeps waking me up at 6:30. The first thing on my mind is a steaming hot cup of coffee and cream, and luckily the kitchenette comes with a coffee maker and a daily supply of filter coffee. We brought the cream.
On this fifth day of my stay at the Westin, the sun streamed in through the shutters. The predicted weather was sunshine with a high around 20ºC and this was definitely the right day to visit the outdoor pools of Spa Scandinave.
We decided to go there a bit later in the morning and left at 11:30 to drive there.
After several rather grey and overcast mornings, Thursday dawned with a clear sky and my IPhone told me that there was going to be a temperature high of around 20º in Whistler. It was definitely the day for us to do the Peak to Peak Gondola ride.
The Peak to Peak Gondola connects Whistler and Blackcomb mountains on a 4.4 kilometre long ride. Opened in December 2008, it breaks three world records. Supported by only four towers, two on each mountain, it boasts the longest unsupported span of 3.024 kilometres, is the highest lift of its kind rising 436 metres above the valley floor and completes the longest continuous alpine lift system on the globe.
It really was an amazing and spectacular ride.
After buying our tickets in Whistler Village, we first rode the Whistler Village Gondola up to the Roundhouse lodge. There we walked around and marveled at the spectacular view before getting aboard one of the red cabins.
I was up by 7 as usual and brewing coffee. Breakfast for the second day was a bowl of Liberté Mediterranean yogurt, thick and creamy, with blue berries and strawberries. Then while my friend headed off for a golf lesson at Whistler Golf Club Driving Range, I settled down to catch up on my writing.
By 11:30 we were ready to head out on an exploratory walk around the village to see what was open for lunch. We wandered by Alta Bistro but saw that it only served dinner. Elements was packed and noisy, and we did not want to wait. We wanted to fit in a meal at Umberto's Il Caminetto but by the time we had wandered up to the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, we were ready for an immediate lunch! That mountain air does it every time. We looked in at the Wildflower Restaurant but it was not open for lunch
We were directed to the Mallard Lounge and terrace where lunch was being served. My friend was craving a bowl of creamy mushroom soup and we shared a charcuterie plate featuring meats from Two Rivers and an artisan cheese platter with cheeses from Farm House Cheese in Agassiz and Poplar Grove on the Naramata Bench.
Tuesday dawned overcast and grey but I was optimistic that the sun would be busting through the clouds a little later. After coffee and a breakfast of yogurt and berries, I went off to the Avello Spa to be indulged!
At the Avello Spa they were offering a special treatment deal for a paraffin wax manicure and pedicure. I was greeted by the reception staff and then Aiko, a delightful young aesthetician originally from Osaka, came to show me into the spa area. As I was the only client there at the time it was quiet and relaxing.
With a five night stay booked at the Whistler Westin Resort and Spa, I thought this would be an ideal chance to check out the renowned restaurants that have established Whistler's reputation for fine dining. There is a core group that have been the "must go to" restaurants for years, and I was curious to see whether they were still as good as ever.
With only four evenings free for dining out I had to make some choices. With that in mind, I planned dinners at four of the best-reputed restaurants, and hoped as well, to try as many other dining experiences as I could fit into this short visit.
Araxi was the fourth of the major restaurants that are synonymous with fine dining in Whistler, that we could try on this brief five day visit.
A five minute walk from our hotel in the village, Araxi's patio seating looked inviting with its white table cloths and comfortable-looking chairs. Despite the lingering sunshine, we opted to eat inside and I liked the ambience of the restaurant interior.
The menu offered a three course option - a selection from the starter, main and dessert course menus but we decided to be adventurous and try the tasting menu with wine pairing. Our server, Quentin, explained that it was a five course tasting menu and we would not know in advance what the chefs were preparing. We told him about food allergies - I avoid clams and mussels - and he asked how we like red meats prepared - medium rare, and then he whisked off to the kitchen and we sat back to contemplate what would be coming.
The first interesting touch was the sparkling wine that was served in the most unusual, exquisite champagne flutes. Steve, the sommelier came over to tell us about the Sumac Ridge Tribute - a non-vintage 100% chardonnay-derived sparkling wine made in the traditional method. Apparently Sumac have made this particular Tribute wine on only two occasions, one to celebrate the Millennium year and one specially for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
We were given an amuse bouche of cured cellar-aged Wagyu beef short rib with truffle vinaigrette and goat cheese. A delightful mouthful.
Next Steve appeared to pour a Clos du Soleil Baessler Pinot Blanc from the 2010 Growers Series. The Growers Series are wines made from a single vineyard by this boutique winery in the Similkameen Valley.
This wine paired beautifully with the first dish, a lightly seared piece of salmon served with tiny pieces of pineapple, slivered carrots, grapefruit and a coconut panna cotta.