Skip to main content

Scandinave Spa offers guests a traditional hydrotherapy experience and views of Whistler and Blackcomb peaks.

Whistler's international brand is all about exhilaration: A ski resort that celebrates extremes, from virgin-powder slopes to daredevil snowboarding to late-night partying amid a spirited après scene.

Yet bubbling below the hedonism is a refreshing, more natural current. Skiers and snowboarders are moving beyond beef burgers in the pub, opting instead for fresh-pressed juices and vegan dishes to fortify themselves for their next run. Spending time in nature doesn't simply mean engaging with it at 60 kilometres an hour, but also slowing down to take it in. Here's how to make the most of Whistler's serene side:

Slip into a spa

Start with a clarifying visit to Scandinave Spa, a 20,000-square-foot outdoor day spa surrounded by the spruce and cedar forests of Lost Lake. Give yourself a few hours for the full experience of traditional hydrotherapy, whose cleansing and immune-system boosting benefits have been known to Europeans for centuries. Your body is first heated in a hot bath, wood-burning sauna, eucalyptus steam or thermal waterfalls, all of which open the pores; then, circulation will be stimulated; then you'll cool off with a dip in an icy pool, after which you can relax in a solarium with views of Whistler and Blackcomb peaks, or by a cozy outdoor fireplace. Finish your sojourn with a delicious meal at the spa bistro; artisanal restaurant Solfeggio offers raw, vegan and gluten-free salads, wraps and smoothies to complete your detox experience, leaving you feeling clear, rested and relaxed and ready to hit the slopes. From $58 for the bath experience; packages from $149; massage also available. (604-935-2424;

Dig deep

The Vida Spa at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler was founded in 1990 by one of the resort's holistic wellness pioneers, Colleen Fraser. She began offering sports massage 25 years ago for weekend warriors; now you can also ease aching joints at the deepest cellular level with an Ayurvedic oil massage, or choose a custom package that includes massage and detoxification via an herbal steam in a special cedar box. (

Fraser also operates Whistler Healing Arts, where she offers multiday cleanses and deep-healing therapies. "Wellness has come a long way in Whistler," she says. "It's no longer just the place to spend money and party. It's also a place to heal." (

Get physical

Jivamukti yoga teacher Tina James has cultivated a following with her challenging yet accessible classes at Loka Yoga Whistler, such as the "spiritual warrior" class. Sixty-minute drop-in classes cost $18. (

At Yama Yoga, try the yoga and Pilates class, which combines the core-toning benefits of Pilates along with the strengthening and flexibility of yoga, ideal before and after a turn on the mountain. Drop-in classes cost $20. (

For specialized training to meet your skiing or snowboarding goals, turn to the kinesiologist trainers at Basecamp Fitness; most of their inspiring workouts end up outdoors, so you can breathe in that clean alpine air and take in the jaw-dropping scenery. Drop-in classes are $20. (

Go for a float

Experience a womb-like state of tranquillity at West Coast Float. The main benefit, founder Louise Van Engelsdorp explains, is "deep lasting relaxation." She likens 90 minutes of floating to four to six hours of restful sleep. The spa offers two floating pods, on which the tops can close down for complete sensory deprivation, while a larger cabin is ideal if you are a first-time floater and worry about feeling claustrophobic. You float on body-temperature water saturated with Epsom salts, whose high magnesium content can help in recovery from injuries and overuse of muscles as well as chronic pain. From $89 for a 90-minute float. (

Eat green, and local

The Green Moustache café and juice bar was opened in 2014 by Nicolette Richer, a therapist and health consultant. It offers organic plant-based cuisine in a charming, homey space that has whitewashed walls and a box of toys for visiting toddlers.

Kick-start your day with Dr. G's Ultimate Green, a nutritious (and delicious) juice made from green leafy vegetables, romaine, red cabbage, bell pepper, Swiss chard and apple. A warming lunch could include the lightly spiced lentil and rice khichdi, followed by a dark-chocolate vegan truffle, whose richness belies its healthy ingredients. (

The Naked Sprout Juice and Salad Bar offers a self-serve organic salad bar, a variety of smoothie and juice options, and comfort foods such as vegan curry and chili. Snag a couple of outstanding "raw power coconut cookies" for a healthy and sustaining treat on the slopes. (

In the evening, enjoy a three-course meal at Alta Bistro, whose organic farm-to-table menu by chef Nick Cassettari showcases seasonal B.C. products, French bistro-style with a northwest twist. Winter menu offerings include smoked chicken terrine, elk tartare and wild mushroom and onion tart. Vegans can request custom plates. (

The Araxi is the grande dame of fine-dining restaurants that put locally sourced, seasonal dining on the Whistler map. Executive chef James Walt was a pioneer of farm-to-table fare, and entrées range from rabbit to duck to lamb and beef, as well as a variety of fish. Vegetarian and vegan dishes available on request. (

Tap into luxury

A stay at the Four Seasons Whistler includes complimentary yoga and fitness classes daily, as well as menus focused on healthy options using seasonal and locally sourced ingredients. The hotel also offers a 24-hour fitness room, year-round heated outdoor pool, "glacier rain" showers and eucalyptus steam rooms. (

At the base of Blackcomb Mountain, the luxury Fairmont Chateau Whistler offers guests an enviable ski-in and -out location. The hotel's wellness program includes complimentary yoga and aqua-fit classes in a heated outdoor pool, along with cuisine sourced from organic North Arm Farm in neighbouring Pemberton, and Ocean Wise sustainable seafood. The hotel also serves wildflower honey from its own beehives; the bees help pollinate Whistler's alpine meadows. (