Last week I had the opportunity for work to visit Vancouver and Whistler! After looking at countless photos on IG of places like Banff and Whistler, I have been dying to visit Canada so needless to say I was really excited about this trip. Plus the only other time I’ve been to Canada was when I was 10, and my family and I went to Niagara Falls. So yeah, I was due for another visit!
I was on this trip in partnership with Fairmont Hotels. It was myself, Johanna (one of the girl’s on my team) and several other bloggers, who got to spend the week experiencing different Fairmont properties, and activities that each city had to offer. Through the week, we stayed at three different hotel locations and then during the days we had a ton of activities planned. The hotels (which I’ll tell you about shortly!) were beautiful and there was so much to do in both Vancouver and Whistler. That said, if you’re planning a trip to either spot you’ll definitely want to bookmark this post for later!
Okay so let’s chat about Vancouver first. I really didn’t know what to expect–I just knew that it was a big city. As soon as we landed, we went straight to the Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel. I know what you may be thinking–how nice can a hotel be in an airport? When it’s done right, really nice. And this one is done right! For the last 6 years, it’s been voted the #1 airport hotel in North America and I can definitely see why. Checking in was obviously super easy since the hotel is connected to the airport, and then the rest of the hotel had so many other conveniences and luxuries that made you feel like you weren’t anywhere near the airport. The rooms themselves were super spacious and updated. Our rooms were also on the floor that had access to the Fairmont Gold Lounge. This is a lounge that is open 24/7 and fully stocked with complimentary snacks, coffee, cocktails, etc. And there is a full breakfast there each morning! The hotel in general also had a really nice bar and restaurant open to all guests, and the food and drinks did not disappoint. I had lobster for dinner there, need I say more? They also have a gym, pool and jacuzzi area, and a full spa (which I definitely took advantage of on my last day in Vancouver since my flight didn’t leave until 11pm!)
We spent a total of one full day in Vancouver, and our itinerary was packed! We first went to Iona beach and went bird watching which was surprisingly interesting, and then headed to Steveston Village. This was a really cute town just a few minutes away from the hotel. We walked around, explored, checked out the boating docks, and then had lunch at this super cute brewery called, Britannia Brewing Co. Afterwards we went whale watching which was so cool! We were out on the boat for about 3 hours, and actually saw whales several times. It was a great way to see more of Vancouver’s coast and obviously, the whale watching was super entertaining!
That night we checked into the Fairmont Waterfront which sits right on the harbor and had the prettiest views! We only stayed here one night, but we were able to visit their Herb Garden which is on the same rooftop as their pool, and see their Honey Bee Apiary. Julia (a beekeeper) taught us all about bees and it was so fascinating! It was kind of scary at first being so close to all those bees (saved in my story highlights if you missed it), but it ended up being such a cool experience. That night we had dinner at the ARC, which is Fairmont Waterfront’s restaurant and bar. The food was delicious and they made us burnt rosemary & homemade gin (distilled from their honey) cocktails which were soooo good!
The next morning we headed up to Whistler for 2 days (it was about a 2-hour drive). Guys, I loved Whistler so much! It kind of reminded me of Blowing Rock, which is a much smaller mountain town here in NC that we always visit. It had a similar vibe but it felt a little more “upscale” and even though it still felt intimate and “cozy” there were a lot of things to do.
We stayed at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler which was breathtaking! It was like a giant-mountain lodge and luxury hotel combined. Our room was so beautiful and had a little balcony that looked out to the village and mountains in the distance. I also loved that the hotel had several restaurants and bars on site. Even though the village was right outside and there was a lot of shops and restaurants there, it was also convenient to have several options right in the hotel. For breakfast and dinner one day we had lunch at Wildflower and everything was to die for! And then for lunch and a donut stop (you know I had to!) we went to Portobello. This was a cafe type restaurant in the hotel that had everything from soups, salads, sandwiches, pastries, coffee…basically anything and everything. It was great! Another great thing about all the Fairmont’s we stayed at is that they have what is called the Fairmont Fit. This is a partnership with Reebok where they can provide you with athletic clothes for the day so you don’t have to stress about packing a different workout outfit for each day (that can take up a lot of room in your suitcase). This includes everything from a shirt, leggings, sneakers and even socks (and yes you get to keep the socks 😉 ). And if you aren’t in the mood for the gym specifically, and want to do something more active outside, they have a beautiful golf course! We got to golf the second day and the views were so pretty.
As far as what we did in Whistler–the first day we were there we explored the Audain Art Museum and then afterward we rented ATV’s and rode up to the mountain to a salmon bake! This was one of my favorite parts of the trip. You can rent ATVs (we did from Canadian Wilderness) which is a spot just a few minutes away from Fairmont Whistler. We left around 3:30 pm and then followed our ATV guide all the way up the mountain where a salmon bake awaited us. It was a cozy cabin with iced drinks, and then things like hot chocolate and tea, and then we started with an assortment of characters and a salmon-type spread. Afterwards, we were served bread and butter, a salad, plus a huge piece of salmon with roasted potatoes and veggies, plus a slice of blueberry pie and ice cream for dessert. For a random little restaurant on the top of the mountain, this was one of the best meals of the trip!
The next day we started off with breakfast at the Fairmont Whistler Golf Club and then played 9 holes of golf! Okay, so we maybe didn’t make it through all 9 holes because people who actually knew how to play were behind us and we didn’t want to hold them up, buuuut it was still really fun! I’ve played golf a few times before and this was by far the nicest course I’ve ever been on. I wish Stephen could have been there with me since he golfs frequently–I know he would have loved it! I put some photos of the course below so you can see just how gorgeous it is! If you visit Fairmont Whistler, even if you don’t play golf, you should at least have breakfast or lunch at their clubhouse so you can enjoy the views! The food was really good there too 🙂 After golf, we visited Whistler’s Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Center and then went sightseeing on the Peak 2 Peak Gondola. I loved the gondolas because you could just sit in them, relax and enjoy the views! Highly recommend doing them if you’re in Whistler. One other thing that we did the last day we were there that I would recommend is Whistler’s Train Wreck Trail & Suspension Bridge. This is an easy hiking path about 15 minutes from the hotel. The path leads to a suspension bridge and the stream beneath it so blue! The water was so pretty here. On the other side of the bridge are wrecked train cars, from a train that went off the rails in the 1950s. The train cars are now works of art, covered in graffiti.
Overall, I was blown away by Vancouver and Whistler. Both cities were very different but both were beautiful in their own way and had a ton of things to do! I’d love to go back with Stephen and explore more of the restaurants in Vancouver (and get sushi!!) and spend some time just relaxing in Whistler. It is the perfect spot for a relaxing and/or romantic getaway!
I know a lot of you gave me a ton of Vancouver recs, so I’m going to link the IG post here for anyone planning on visiting! You can see the extra recommendations in the comments 🙂
Thank you to the Fairmont for sponsoring this post, and for beautiful accommodations during our trip!