I have a bit of a thing about castles. Princess complex? Perhaps… but there is nothing quite like skiing down Blackcomb mountain as the Fairmont Chateau Whistler comes into sight. All week before we departed for Whistler Blackcomb the kids announced to every person they saw that we were staying at a castle. And it was. And I felt like a princess in a resplendent building while the whole family – kids especially – were treated with boundless respect.
Picture it. A gentle snowfall and sparkly white lights on the trees. We pull up the majestic circular driveway and the valets are waiting. They were so friendly that we couldn’t get the kids out of the car – there were very serious discussions happening around Star Wars Lego. The kids are ecstatic. They have a thing about riding on the luggage carts and giggling as I remind them that they are not suitcases. Maybe when they grow up.
Checking in we were given reusable bags that say ‘I’m a Fairmont Kid!’ . The treats inside not only occupied the boys, but the colouring book was all about bears and provided a fabulous learning opportunity as well. (Thankfully I didn’t run into a bear as I hiked Spanky’s Ladder.)
There is something old-world and artistic about Fairmont properties. I have stayed at at least 8, and in my view, they are cutting-edge in terms of being kid-friendly. Normally the term means tacky plastic stuff and flashing lights. Looking around, there is art everywhere – stone valise sculptures, intricate and modern floral arrangements, architectural flourishes and iron crows on the banisters. The kids were chirping at them. Yes, every time we walked by.
If this were a book, I’d do a whole chapter on the concierges. If their smiles and jaunty ski sweaters weren’t enough I have decided that they are the demi-Gods of helpfulness. Ian especially. My hero. He charges my Blackberry (often) and when my colleague lost his corporate visa card (it wasn’t me honest), Ian called every place this man had been the night before. He then phoned Visa to cancel it. Demi Gods. I told you.
One of my favourite things about the rooms were the preppy cableknit blankets on the beds. The fridge in the room is kept empty – a great help to parents who bring along snacks. Kid-friendly extends to rooms as well. I had no idea that if parents want a connecting room for the kids, the second room is half price. The tiny bathrobes were certainly a highlight for the boys. They breezed through the lobby en route to the hottub and were excited to find a little warming hut to hang them in order to ensure they remain dry. Oh – and while you’re in the spa, ask for Wilma. She offers private swimming lessons for adults and little ones. So they’ll soon be able to ski AND swim circles around you. Great. (If you opt for free-floating the Fairmont supplies lifejackets too).
Whistler has cache. But there is only one bar in the entire place that exudes the alpine mystique. The Mallard Lounge. A semi-circle bar, sledding for kids on the hill in back (they provide sleds), live music, domed ceilings, classic cocktails… And kids are allowed (even at the bar) until 9pm. Bartender extraordinaire Adam loves to serve kids Egyptian Lemonade – muddled with mint and raspberries. A sparkling apple drink is served in a martini glass. See? Kids are sophisticated too. And the Chateau knows it.
They’re pretty cool with pets as well. Dogs are part of the family, after all. Jennifer Tice, the Public Relations Manager, showed me a picture of 2 puppies that she snapped with her iPhone. She explained that these ‘hotel guests’ make so many people smile as they trot throughout the lobby, and the dogs assist in bringing people together and creating a social atmosphere throughout the hotel. They have that down. Sitting areas, tables, and sofas. The lobby was always buzzing with activity and a great vibe.
I had the honour to visit the Wildflower Restaurant on 2 occasions. Chef Vincent Stufano not only creates incredible dishes featuring locally sourced ingredients, but also features a ‘lifestyle cuisine plus’ menu with options in the following categories: heart healthy, diabetes, vegan, raw, macrobiotic, and gluten free. Double wow. The restaurant also has a ‘sea to sky menu to go’. For the road. Just don’t get pulled over like we did on the way up. (Hopefully your lox and bagel doesn’t give energy to your accelerator foot..)
Dinner was amazing. It was just adults (thank you Nannies on Call). Before we dined I ordered room service for the kids their meals come with drink and dessert. Not only is there a kids’ menu, but when I asked for milk, They questioned: “plain, chocolate or strawberry?” Seriously? Then I learned that in December Fairmont created a new healthy eating menu just for the kids!
“Fairmont Chefs ensure these pint-sized offerings reflect the same basic principals as Lifestyle Cuisine and address the nutritional guidelines established for children by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. Proactive steps include swapping out refined flour for whole wheat, incorporating fruits and vegetables into recipes to help meet the recommended daily fiber allowance, and employing alternative cooking methods to help ensure healthier choices are made available to young diners. “
On our final morning I took the boys to the Wildflower for breakfast. Kids eat free. Wow. And when they entered? They were each given an etch-a-sketch. Our waiter told them it was an old-fashioned iPad. I laughed hard. (The boys looked at me with puzzlement as they touched the screen). As we left each child was given a cookie as big as my head. ‘for the road’.
In all? I have a new go-to place when I ski. After my weekend, the family is closer, the kids feel special, we made a ton of memories, and Ian the concierge is my new best friend.
Disclosure: UrbanMommies was provided accomodation at the Chateau in order to write this piece, and as always all opinions are our own.