Story by Adrian Brijbassi
WHISTLER, BRITISH COLUMBIA — In a mountain resort town famed for all things big — big air, big hills, big hotels, big price tags — Nita Lake Lodge is a contrast to the Whistler most of us know.
It’s small, with 77 well-appointed and spacious suites, and it’s wonderfully serene. The village is pumped with year-round raucousness and high-energy activities. At Nita Lake Lodge, you’ll find quiet, relaxation, and a chance to catch your breath before you take on the slopes or the trails.
You’ll also enjoy the cuisine of chef Michael Guy. He oversees the menus at Aura, a terrific restaurant that features sustainable produce from nearby Pemberton Valley and the waters of the British Columbia coast. Guy, who previously worked at Araxi, also manages the food on the menu at the Cure Lounge, and the baked goods and treats that come out of the on-site Fix Cafe, a gem of a coffee shop whose products are also found at local grocery stores in Whistler.
From Fix, you’ll get earthy muffins, homemade ice cream, and coffee from local supplier 49th Parallel. From Aura, the tastes are decadent and sublime, matched with a good wine list of primarily west coast bottles and at prices that won’t make you gasp. A three-course menu is $44 and well worth it.
The stunner was an extraordinary halibut filet served in a soup with grilled corn and blood orange reduction. When the server began to pour the soup table-side over the halibut I almost told him to stop. It seemed like a rich red wine sauce that would smother the flavour of the white fish. Of course, Guy knows exactly what he is doing and the result is a shockingly light and perfectly blended dish. Corn and halibut always pair well together and the blood orange adds a subtle tanginess, as well as a visual surprise.
Whistler Boutique Hotel Celebrates Local Culture
Beyond the cuisine, Nita Lake Lodge is memorable for its views and its devotion to the community. General manager Mike Duggan says he wants this boutique property, which is celebrating its fifth year, to be known as a place that recognizes art and local culture. Vancouver-based philanthropist Michael Audain is planning to open an art gallery in Whistler and that will combine with the outstanding First Nations museum, the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre, to bring a more well-rounded travel experience to the ski town. Nita Lake Lodge, with its community spirit in mind, is positioned to appeal to travellers who are into more than outdoor sports.
The lodge’s spa is also exceptional. It uses eco-friendly products from Tammy Fender and offers a mix of therapy treatments. The signature ilā Kundalini Back Massage was the most revitalizing I’ve had at a spa in Canada. The pressure applied wasn’t as deep as a sports massage, yet was still curative, while the warm oils soaked into the skin, leaving me tension-free for hours after the treatment.
I’ve wanted to visit Nita Lake Lodge for a few years because several people in the travel industry who I respect have passed on words of praise for this hotel less than a kilometre from Whistler Village.
“In the summer, we’re fully booked because we have the advantage of being on the lake. In the winter, it can be a challenge for us that we’re not in the village, because there are guests who do want to be able to ski in and ski out,” Duggan says.
It’s a five-minute drive to the village. The lodge has a comfortable shuttle van that drops passengers off and picks them up, allowing guests to be easily transported to and from the mountains of Whistler and Blackcomb.
Not surprisingly, the lodge has outstanding service. Whistler, I think, offers the finest level of hospitality of any destination in Canada. There’s a mix of nationalities (at Aura, I had servers from France, Australia, Latin America, and Ontario), making for a plethora of interesting conversations, and an extremely high level of professionalism. At Nita Lake Lodge, the professionalism also morphed into friendliness, a benefit perhaps of the property’s location amid nature and away from the buzz of the village.
I’ve stayed at several hotels in Whistler over the years. If you want to be at the centre of the action, with easy access to the ski hill, the Fairmont Chateau Whistler near the base of Blackcomb Mountain is my pick. If your aim is to relax and find a peaceful atmosphere away from the storefronts and bar scene, Nita Lake Lodge is a jewel you’ll enjoy. A sophisticated and elegant property that lives up to every expectation I had before I entered it.
More About Nita Lake Lodge
Location: 2131 Lake Placid Road, Whistler, BC (see map below)
Nightly Rates: A recent search showed a weekend night in November costs $169. Rates will vary based on season and availablilty.
Reservations: Telephone 1-888-755-6482 (toll free) or visit the property’s booking engine on its website.
More Coverage of Whistler in Vacay.ca
View Larger Map