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Ski properties are often very good uses of hotel points if you plan to visit during peak ski season. Rates are usually high, but point rates can be a very good bargain. This is indeed the case at the The Westin Resort & Spa, Whistler that we had the privilege to visit in March 2014.
After spending the night in Vancouver, and taking the beautiful drive to Whistler, we excitedly arrived at the Westin in the middle of a beautiful snowfall. The flakes were fat, wet, and perfect for snowball making. We could not have been more excited to get checked in, meet up with our friends who were meeting us there, and check out the two bedroom suite we had scored at a great discount.
I’ll cover all the pertinent details of our stay here, but if you want to get a tour of the suite and hear some details for yourself, then please check out the video review we did of the property.
The lobby and check-in area is actually on a different floor (and side) of the hotel than almost everything else you will probably do. We didn’t know this at the time, but it did make it quite the trek if you needed to return to the check-in area for some reason. The check-in process went very smoothly despite the fact that our reservation was a little complicated.
We had secured a reservation on points and then negotiated a cash upgrade fee of $150/night to go from a basic room to a two-bedroom suite. We had done this via email months in advance, so I was a little nervous something would have gone wrong in the interim, but it was all squared away accurately. We selected the continental breakfast for two for our SPG Platinum amenity, added our friends to the reservation in case they had any issues, and headed up to check out our home for four nights on the mountain.
I mentioned we had a two-bedroom suite and that wasn’t so that we could spread out that much for just the three of us, but so that we would have plenty of room for our family of three + the other family of three that was meeting us there. With the upgrade we had a small kitchen, dining table for four, living room (complete with pull-out sofa), two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a patio off the master bedroom.
The suite was not near as spacious as the two bedroom suite we had at the Westin Beaver Creek Resort, but it was totally adequate to meet our needs for a few nights. Having the kitchen allowed us to make light breakfasts and lunches several days which not only saved some real money, but was so much more practical with a two and four year old in the crew. We were able to slap together some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, peel a banana, and set them up at the dining table with no problem. Don’t get tricked by the handy looking drinks that are waiting for you in the fridge – it is still priced like normal mini-bar prices even though it looks more inviting since it is in a normal fridge!
The living room had a gas fireplace that starts up with the press of a button, and is great for relaxing while looking out of the window at the mountain. You can see skiers go down from the windows, which is pretty neat.
The master bedroom had a queen sized bed, a decent area for storing clothes/bags, and a bathroom with separate shower and tub.
The second bedroom is a bit smaller, but did still have room for a crib that the hotel provided.
The second bathroom is in the hallway, and it is also smaller than the master with a combo shower/tub. Even though it is a smaller bathroom, it is still so nice to have separate bathrooms. Sharing dinner and a living room is one thing, but sharing bathrooms would make the space much tighter!
I didn’t have any issues with the room, noise from the hall, noise from the mountain, or anything. In a perfect world, I wish there would have been a bit more room in the shared spaces in the suite, but in theory you aren’t spending tons of time in the room on ski trips other than for sleep.
The resort has an on-site ski rental shop and ski valet, which was obviously handy. We found the equipment to be of pretty good quality relative to other ski shops, and it was very nice to not have to leave the resort to rent skis. They store the skis and boards for you overnight, but they do not store the boots. At the end of the ski day, they have a small tent set up at the base of the mountain where you can just give them your equipment and not even have to carry it the 50 yards or so to the hotel. There is no charge for the storage and valet if you rent from the on-site ski shop, but there is a CAD$9/day/set of skis. The maximum charge per room is CAD$27/per day for ski storage.
There is also an on-site Avello Spa that my husband and another friend visited on the trip. We appreciated that we were able to get next-day appointments without a problem, but both of them reported that the spa was pretty spartan and the procedures were not the best they had ever had. They may have just both had bad luck, but both weren’t overly impressed.
The hotel has two hot tubs, one indoors and one outdoors, as well as a pool that goes both indoors and outdoors. We tried out the pool with the kiddos one night, and I found the pool water to be a bit too cool for my Texan tastes. My daughter had no complaints, but it wasn’t my idea of fun. The hot tub was much warmer on tired ski muscles.
One night we were looking for something easy and different to do, so we took advantage of the Nintendo Wii the hotel has set-up off of the lobby. There was no extra charge to play some Wii Bowling or Tennis and it was a fun change of pace from just chilling in the room with the little ones in the evening!
We ate one evening and several mornings at Grill & Vine in the hotel, and found it to be a handy option if you don’t want to go outside. My favorite thing about the restaurant (other than the location) was that they source local farms as much as possible and kids 5 and under eat free! My daughter ordered a full kid’s meal and it was free since she was with a paying adult. That saved about $8 – $10 and was appreciated…and I got to order light and steal off her plate.
The downside of the restaurant is that it is a bit pricey outside of the kids, with I would guess an average of $30 per adult for food. It was also a little bit fancy at night for young kids, though we made it work.
For breakfast, we took advantage of the SPG Platinum breakfast benefit and each had a continental breakfast for free with our daughter eating free since she was 5 or younger. The SPG Breakfast includes all of the items on the buffet other than the hot items, but it was about a $9 fee each to upgrade to the hot items. The buffet also included coffee and juice, so all in all the three of us getting hot/cold items and drinks for breakfast for about $18 wasn’t too shabby (though the cold items would have been sufficient). There was also a “grab and go” section of the restaurant in the mornings that we didn’t try out on this trip.
We also saw a place called FireRock Lounge and a sushi joint called Kaze Sushi in the hotel, but we didn’t try those out on this trip. There is also a Westin Kid’s Club that we didn’t try out on this trip.
There is a $30 – $34 fee per night to park at the hotel, but note that there was thankfully no resort fee. The staff that we interacted with was all extremely nice and courteous.
You Can Do It Too:
I’ll do a separate post about skiing and eating at Whistler, but even before I get to that I’m betting you can guess that ski trips to Canada are not inexpensive. A perfect way to control costs to a degree is to stay on hotel points to the extent possible. That will easily knock off several hundred dollars of out-of-pocket costs per night, and in this case puts you right next to the mountain and ski school.
Peak ski season rates for a base rooms here can be in the $400-$500 range per night, but the points price will be either 12,000 or 16,000 points per night (and it seems to usually be 12k). The spring break mid-March dates when we were there were just 12,000 points per night, which is at least a 3.5 cents per point return, probably more when factoring in taxes.
We did have a $150 per night fee on top of that to go to the two-bedroom suite, but that suite was selling for $800 – $1000 points per night, and allowed two families to stay for just 12k points + $150 per night, which I think was pretty solid. Sadly we could only stay for four nights on this trip, but had we stayed for five nights on points the last award night would have been free. That would have bought the per-night points cost to 9,600 points per night.
The easiest way to rack up SPG points is via the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express or the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express. Both award 10,000 SPG points after your first purchase, and another 15,000 after you spend $5,000 in purchases within the first 6 months. They both have a $0 intro fee the first year (and $65 in subsequent years). You can get both cards, and these points are perfect for knocking out, or at least dramatically reducing, your lodging expenses to stay right next to the mountain at Whistler.
Even though the 2013 – 2014 ski season is starting to wrap up, it is the perfect time to lock something in for next season! I very much hope to return to Whistler, and would absolutely look to the Westin Whistler as it is an absolute steal at just 12k points per night during ski season!
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