The room is dark and I’m almost naked. Soothing music slithers from Bose speakers. A calm female Australian voice asks me to lie down and relax. And then her hands are on me. She kneads my back. She moves on to my horrible skier’s feet, a gnarled mass of bone spurs and tar-black toenails.
The Australian doesn’t gag at my feet. She hammers them with diligence. The voice belongs to Nola, the best massage therapist in Whistler as chosen by the local newsweekly. She works at the town’s famed Four Seasons Resort, the ritziest digs in Canada and home to the third-best spa on the continent—as chosen by the bitchy editors at Condé Nast Traveler magazine.
Nola is good but, sadly, I have to cut it short. This pampered dirtbag is on a $300-a-weekend budget, and that budget needs stretching. So I head upstairs to the Fifty Two 80 Bistro and tuck into oysters and perfectly cured bison carpaccio with the rest of my cash. Here’s the thing: I don’t even like oysters. I’m eating them because I can.
Me, I’ve paid my sleeping-in-my-truck dues, my ketchup-and-mixed-condiment-soup dues, my pick-up-a-liftie-and-crash-at-her-place dues. I’m done. I took my $300 and spent it wisely. All of it. And I followed the rules. None of which prohibited me from visiting during the World Ski and Snowboard Festival. The festival is Whistler’s annual spring hoedown, and all double entendres are intended.
My plan was simple: http://visit whistlerblackcomb.com. There I picked off the best deal on the continent—two nights’ stay based on double occupancy and two lift tickets for $170, along with all the free concerts I wanted. I made a few clicks and dropped $170. Mission accomplished.
That left me with $130 for six meals. Breakfast was $5 worth of Clif Bars and coffee. Lunch was another bar, a hunk of cheese, and an apple, so I could lap boot-deep fluff in the Blackcomb slackcountry without stopping. Not that I needed to leave the resort. It was empty. Everyone else was busy watching the halfpipe comp, riding the mechanical straight razor that Schick had cheekily set up in the village, or taking in free concerts.
I saw the concerts only when the lifts stopped. I skipped the garbage and waited for De La Soul. And all the skimping on breakfast and lunch left me with enough money for Nola and the Bistro, along with a reminder that I never had to sleep on a couch or court indignity with strangers met on the internet.
So you go ahead and visit Whistler when it’s cold and expensive. You go when hordes of Yanks worship their dead presidents. You go to Whistler when the British service workers are in the middle of three months of hangovers and performing their latent function as the Burton Grooming Team. You go right ahead, masochist. Me, I’m going back in the spring, and I’m going to see Nola.
Adult Full-Day Lift Ticket Price: $85
Vertical Drop: 5,280 feet
Price Per Vertical Foot: 1.6 cents
Cost of Burger: $13.5
British Columbia’s Minimum Hourly Wage: $8
Min.-Wage Hours Needed to Buy Lift Ticket: 10.65
For More Info: http://whistlerblackcomb.com, http://fourseasons.com
- SKIING MAGAZINE, FEBRUARY/MARCH 2009