On the outside, Chateau Whistler looks hulking and graceless-a massive, ersatz-Loire edifice sans architectural flourishes. The inside of this modern country manor is another story. Room 972 (which I would prefer never to leave) features an actual foyer, a living room with a thick oriental carpet over dark wood floors, a half dozen richly upholstered ways to relax and put your feet up, two fireplaces, discreetly curtained French doors leading to a serene master bedroom and a seriously spacious marble bath. On a homier note, there are cushy bathrobes, a portable phone, a stereo, and all-you-can-eat cookies and tea. It's the kind of room-the kind of hotel, in fact-that pampers with tasteful luxury yet encourages utter ease. Even the most modest rooms here accomplish this artful feat.
Room 972, however, is part of Entrée Gold, a definitely not-modest wing offering 53 rooms and suites with heightened amenities such as an exclusive concierge staff, fancy bath products and a private lounge, where a daily breakfast buffet, evening hors-d'oeuvres (such as sushi and seared scallop canapés) and fresh-baked bedtime treats are complimentary.
If your après tastes, like mine, tend more to things shaken than seared, check out the Mallard Bar. And feel free to sink into its wingbacks in the comfort of your favorite jeans. The air of casual elegance is one big reason the Chateau consistently ranks in the top 100 among the very best hotels in the world-the only such property in North American skiing. Unlike its peers-Big Sur's Post Ranch Inn and Hawaii's Mauna Lani Bay, for example-this great hotel just happens to have a high-speed quad and rockin' good skiing less than 300 yards away.
But to enjoy all that I'd have to leave Room 972...which, quite honestly, I'd be happy not to do.
LOCATION The Chateau is at the base of Blackcomb Mountain, 75 miles north of Vancouver International Airport.
DETAILS There are 558 rooms,including 56 suites. Amenities include a not-to-be-missed spa (try Thai or LeStone treatments), a state-of-the-art gym, steam rooms, swimming pools, whirlpools, a cigar room, outdoor firepits and more. The Wildflower serves superb continental cuisine with a Pacific Northwest twist; try the Mallard for appetizers or high tea.
DIGITS Rates run $240-$758. Reservations: 800-606-8244 or 604-938-8000; http://www.fairmont.com/whistler/