Holidays this year was especially fun because we were able to have a "white Christmas". Stan's siblings are spread out abroad and his mom turned 70 early this year. However, we weren't to plan a celebration in time for the actual birthday. Instead, the family decided to have a belated celebration/reunion.
This holiday was planned a year in advanced. We knew that we were going to have the celebration in December 2013. But because of visa/passport issues, we didn't know where to have it until the very last minute. N had been to Canada before in spring but it was E's first time, along with his cousins from Singapore. Since this was the first time that Stan's family was complete after 5 years, a photo session was in order.
Since the kids wanted to play with snow, the family decided to have a white Christmas in Whistler. We were booked on a 2-night stay at the Coast Blackcomb Suites, thanks to Stan's Ahia. Except for Stan's Achi and her husband, it was all our first time in Whistler and we all agree that 2 nights is not enough!
Coast Blackcomb prides itself as a ski-in ski-out resort. Since I was a non-skier I didn't understand the significance of this. But apparently, Coast Blackcomb is popular because at the back of the hotel, you already have access to ski slopes, without having to pay for pricey ski lifts to bring you up the mountain! The resort was not inside Whistler village but was conveniently accessible via a 10-minute free shuttle.
Our room was a studio room which came with a fireplace, a kitchen and a balcony. It was E's first time to see a real fireplace and burned his finger in his eagerness to go near! Since I was a snow ignoramus, I found the snow covered paths outside our balcony breathtaking!
Breakfast was included and we also had an "afternoon cap" of hot chocolate and cider - perfect after a full day out in the cold. There was also a heated pool which Stan really regretted not being able to take advantage of. We did bring swimwear for him and the kids but did not have enough time to schedule swimming! That would've been a memorable experience - swimming with a snowy backdrop!
Getting to Whistler is not difficult. You can either drive or choose public transportation. Since it was winter, to get on the highway, the private cars needed to have winter tires. One of our vehicles didn't have this and we thought that we didn't want to stress 3 family members who had to drive. So my sister in law decided to hire a coaster good for 15 people. To our surprise, we were sent a full-sized bus! It made navigating the climbing and winding roads up to Whistler less dizzying.
Whistler Village, Creekside and the hotels are filled with varying choices of restaurants. We decided to celebrate Erik's 2nd birthday with family at Mongolie Grill. When I asked for restaurant recommendations in Whistler, Monglie Grill was on top of the list. It is actually a glamorized Sweet Inspi Mongolian Buffet. However, unlike Sweet Inspi - which is eat and cook all you can, you pay by the weight of your bowl. You fill up your bowl with noodles, vegetables, meats, beans, garnishings - they had cranberries, corn, and nuts to put in your bowl! Then the cooks weigh your bowl, hand you a white slip for your server and cook your food in an open kitchen style huge wok. Because you make your own sauce mix, you can choose to make it spicy, sweet, sesame-y, tangy, etc. etc. N and E both had their own bowls! The meal also came with all you can eat brown or white rice and soup - miso or hot and sour (bleh!).
Another memorable place we dined in was El Furny - El Furniture Restaurant. No - this was not a furniture store but a restaurant where everything was priced at $4.95! We honestly would have missed this place if it was not pointed out by a local. It was right in the heart of Whistler Village and very affordable. There were hits and misses - I was happy with my quinoa and green apple salad. But the crunchy mac and cheese -- while it looks appetizing in the photo - was not yummy, said Stan. The potato skins were also quite good but the nachos were not! Since we dined on a Tuesday, I took advantage of their specials and had a beef taco for only 95 cents!
Of course, a trip to Whistler won't be complete without skiing! N and her cousins enrolled in a half-day skiing course. Kids as young as 3 years old were actually skiing on the slopes! I can't wait for E to try it! We dropped off N and her cousins at the school at 830am and picked them up at about 330pm. We rented her gear except for her goggles. Since S and I never tried skiing before, it was actually a bit scary watching her ride the gondola with her instructor and classmates, up and away from us! Parents couldn't watch the lessons and so we had to wait until we could pick her up in the afternoon. At the end of the day, N excitedly shared that she learned how to stop and slide. She also learned how to stand up after falling down on her skis. Tiring and exhilarating were the words she used to describe her ski experience!
We also went up Whistler Mountain where the kids had fun playing with snow. Since we were 6000+ feet higher, it was much colder, the snow thicker and the kids experienced actual snowfall! N already had previous experience playing with snow and knew what she wanted to do. E was still at a loss - it was his first time to encounter snow. While N was trying to make a snow angel, E was trying to pull her up! E eventually tried to make his own snow angel but couldn't figure out how to do it properly.
Of course, we were happy to travel with a photographer and we were able to finally have proper family pictures to document our trip - at a unique location, to boot!
Would I go back to Whistler? Most definitely! There are still a lot more activities for our family to try. Whistler is also a good place to visit during the summer so maybe a summer trip should be next!