“Last chair, Mate” you hear your liftie say, as the chairlift swiftly picks you up and carries you to the top for one last chance to rip up the mountain after an already epic day of skiing. Your legs are tired but you have had such a great time, the idea of bringing your epic day of shredding the gnar to an end is disheartening. As you start unloading the chair, one of your buds darts ahead of the posse and yells back, “Last one to the bar buys the first round at après!” As you scramble to get yourself off the chair for the top to bottom, no route, anything goes race that you didn’t know you would be participating in, you realize the day is not quite over yet.
Like skiing, we have our European ancestors to thank for the illustrious après ski traditions we see at ski resorts cross the globe. “Après ski” otherwise simplified to “après” is the term used to describe the social activity/ies one partakes in, after a day of skiing. However calm or crazy you want your après to get, it almost always has to start with a celebratory libation shared amongst friends while recapping the tall tales of your epic ski day.
Whistler’s Best Après Ski Begins in the Heart of the Village
Naturally you should start the festivities in the heart of the action. Somewhere where there’s food, hot tubs and beverages at your fingertips. Meet your friends at Longhorn Saloon because if it weren’t for the guy making sure you have adequate ID, you could literally ski right to your heated patio seat. If you manage to score a highly sought after patio spot on a Sunday, I would suggest sticking around to watch Whistler’s best skiers and riders jump through a blazing ring of fire at the Fire and Ice show.
For Whistler’s best après ski experience that is authentically Canadian, make your way to Tapley’s and pair your beer with a plate of french fries covered in cheese curds and gravy. We refer to this Canadian delicacy as poutine, pronounced “poo-tsin” by that French Canadian dude you heard earlier in the day. Everyone else just pronounces it the way it is written.
Après Ski and Chill
After you’ve had a drink or two and the 10th person has heard the story of “the guy who cut you off, which forced you to huck a 20 footer that you landed because you’re such a badass skier,” but before the stiffness of landing that 20 footer sets in, get yourself into a hot tub and salvage those hucking legs for another day of skiing. Mountain Club memberships include access to the amazing indoor and outdoor hot pools at The Westin and offer premium parking spots in their underground parking. This is a no-brainer because, if your truly going to be partaking in Whistler’s best après ski, you should not be driving your car until the next morning anyway! A viable option after your hot tub session is The Westin’s Firerock Lounge for a relaxing bite to eat. After all, you and your car are already there.
Après with the Family
Are you an “early to bed, early to rise” and/or family minded skier? Whistler has a handful of options for your après ski desires. Mondays and Wednesdays from 3-6pm (4-6pm in December and January), Whistler Olympic Plaza hosts Family Après with activities and entertainment for the kids in your family. Alternatively, check out the “Made in Whistler” Artisan Market Saturdays at The Westin from 12-6pm. Both are free of admission and a great way to wind down from a day on the hill.
If you really want to get zen and stretch out out those tired ski legs, consider taking a yoga class to end the day. Neo Whistler and Yogacara have a handful of restorative relaxing classes in the evenings. If you’re interested in a truly unique Whistler experience, take the yoga class at the Audain Art Museum on March 15th from 6 – 7:15pm.
If Your Legs Hold Out, It’s Time to Hit the Dance Floor
While some of your friends may not have made it past their first beer, the rest of you are several pitchers deep, your day has turned into night and those wobbly legs are ready to hit the dance floor. If you’re looking for Whistler’s best après ski venues to get your groove on, you don’t have to look far. If it happens to be a Thursday, and you’re hoping to find yourself a Whistler local to show you the ropes for tomorrow, Garfinkel’s is the place to be with the longest running local’s night in town. If you want to stick close to the late night pizza place and taxi loop, head to Buffalo Bills. Their DJs will keep you dancing until your legs give out. If you somehow manage to keep your ski boots on until you’ve shut down the nightclubs and stumble into your bed, you my friend, are a true après hero!
So what exactly makes Whistler’s best après ski experiences unique, compared to its North American ski resort counterparts? Well, as skiing migrated to North America, there was a deviation from the traditional European towns that existed in the actual ski areas. Alternatively, resorts here were built as a destination merely for skiing, away from their respective towns and communities. Whistler however, in true European fashion, is nestled right in the heart of its village and because of that, your après options are bountiful and in ski boot walking distance.
Feature image: Abby Cooper