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Our big winter family vacation this year was a trip up north that included staying five nights at the perfectly located Westin Whistler. We have stayed here before so pretty much knew what to expect, but since it has been four years since I last covered this hotel, I’ll do an update of our impressions of the property this time around. If you are interested in this sort of trip, here are some other posts about our trip as well as a video on how to save money on a trip to Whistler with some shots inside the hotel!
The Westin Whistler is just steps from the Whistler Gondola and Ski School
My absolutely favorite thing about this hotel is where it is located, literally just a couple hundred feet from the main Whistler Gondola and the ski school meeting points. When you are walking in ski boots and hauling gear for a family, trust me that location matters more than anything else when selecting your ski-friendly lodging.
In Whistler, since there is a village where everything is pretty much walkable, being located in a prime spot where you never need a car is also very special. Of course, it is still helpful to pick up a sled at the local village hardware store to haul your toddlers to dinner!
1. Using SPG points at the Westin Whistler during ski season will save you thousands
Since the Westin Whistler is in a five-star location, it gets very expensive to stay here around the holidays and peak ski times. Standard rooms can legitimately sell for $500 – $1000 per night during these peakest of dates, but you can keep that money in your savings account and instead spend your SPG points from the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card and Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card, to the tune of 12,000 – 16,000 points per night as this is a Category 5 property. Even during ski season, if you book in advance I see the hotel at just 12,000 points per night far more frequently than 16,000 points per night.
If you stay five nights as we did, then with SPG you get the fifth award night free. This means your family can stay for five nights at the Westin Whistler for just 48,000 SPG points. If you and your partner each got a SPG credit card and the related sign-up bonus points you would have more than enough to make this winter dream a reality!
2. The Westin Whistler rooms are fine, but not special
The rooms at the Westin Whistler are totally fine and come with a small kitchen and a fireplace, but they are not special or nearly as luxurious as the peak season price may lead you to believe.
On our first trip to the property we were in a two-bedroom suite and this time around we were booked into the smallest studio category, but were able to upgrade to a room with two queen beds as opposed to the studio that had one bed and one pullout sofa. If you want a larger room category after you book a standard room with points the hotel is very receptive to those sort of upgrades, but the price to secure a larger room varies pretty wildly. On our first trip they wanted $25 extra per night to secure a suite and on this trip that number went as high as about $400 per night. Needless to say, we passed on a paid upgrade to a suite this time around.
The separate tub and shower in our room helped when bath time for the girls came around.
I do appreciate that the room has a fridge, microwave, and small kitchen area as food costs in the village are very high and even just making a few simple cold meals can save a family hundreds of dollars.
The rooms at the Westin Whistler aren’t in bad shape, but on the other hand, they haven’t noticeably changed since our trip four years ago, and do seem like they could be ready for a refresh. At the very least, don’t come here for luxurious rooms, because you won’t find any. Come here for the slopeside location and just use the rooms as a place to recharge before going back to the slopes.
3. Having SPG Platinum status helps keep food costs down
You can fly here on miles and stay on points, but food costs are a very real expense. A relatively modest dinner out in the area for the four of us was often close to $100 no matter what we did. Lunch was at least half that if we didn’t make it ourselves, and even the “free” breakfast can easily be close to $50 for a family of four if you aren’t careful. My SPG Platinum status got us complimentary continental breakfast in the hotel’s temporary Platinum Lounge or in the restaurant, Grill & Vine.
However, this only includes the “cold” items on the buffet and an upgrade to the full buffet in the Grill & Vine Restaurant was $16 per adult and $8 for our older daughter while the two-year-old ate for free. With tax, that meant $42 to upgrade all of us before tip. While the food is very good, $42 + tip is a long ways from free.
We did that full buffet experience the first morning, but after that, we retreated to the truly free Platinum Lounge for most of the rest of the mornings. The Platinum Lounge is something they seem to offer only during the peak winter holiday week, but it was very handy to ensure a truly free breakfast experience that was way faster than eating in the restaurant. Fast and free breakfasts are the best kind when you need to get on the mountain early in the morning.
While we are on the topic of eating at the Westin Whistler, we did enjoy two dinners in the hotel. One at the Grill & Vine Restaurant and one at the sushi restaurant, Ka-Ze. In both cases, a standard meal for four without alcohol came to about $100, and we had to make reservations at least several days in advance as everywhere in the area was booked up during this holiday week. Grill and Vine is on OpenTable.com, but we just walked into the sushi restaurant to make reservations there for a few days out.
4. There are many great amenities in the Westin Whistler…and one that isn’t so great
In addition to be very close to the mountain, inside the Westin Whistler there are some other great conveniences. You can rent your skis without leaving the building, and at the end of the day you can drop them off at the base of the mountain via the ski valet.
The next morning they will be waiting for you inside the hotel, though the line can get long if you don’t go a little early or late.
There is also a Westin Kids program inside the hotel where those 18 – 48 months who are not yet ready for ski school can play from 8AM – 3:30PM for $99 per day, which is a great price as far as ski resort daycares go.
Our daughter had a blast here and even got to go on a wagon ride in the snow and go up the gondola with her new friends. She was begging to go back the second day which is always a great sign. Space is very limited, so you absolutely want to make reservations in advance. There are other locations, but if you are staying at the Westin then obviously nothing beats this convenience.
In the evenings, we adored going to this big conference room within the Westin that had been converted to a huge play area for all the kids to enjoy. The Westin hosts some more structured kid activities such as movie nights, but really all my kids needed and wanted in the evenings was a big spot to run around and play with other kids who would drop in to do the same.
The one amenity at the Westin Whistler that I did not enjoy four years ago and still did not enjoy today was the pool. On first glance, it looks fine, but I am not a fan. The pool has an indoor entrance and then expands into the outdoors. That seems like a great idea since it is quite cold to get in, but the indoor portion has standing water everywhere, is very crowded, very steamy/musty, and the pool water itself is far too cold for this Texas girl. The indoor hot tub portion (not shown) would be full at about 4 – 6 people, but it consistently has at least double that number making it way too full to be enjoyable.
Maybe I’m just too picky, but I think the pool area could be greatly improved. At the very least having better air circulation, slightly warmer water, and a lack of standing water on the indoor portion would be great. I do appreciate that they seem to enforce pool hours as the pool was directly below our room and it was pretty loud at times until it closed promptly at 9PM each evening.
There’s no resort fee, but there is a $30+ parking fee
Unlike most similar properties, the Westin Whistler thankfully does not charge a resort fee. In comparison, the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek charges a $50 daily winter resort fee. However, there is a daily parking fee at the Westin Whistler if you bring your own car that is $30 for self-parking and $34 for valet parking. That is a very small price difference in the two forms of parking, but it is probably because virtually no one gets their car out during the trip as most things in the area are walkable. We just paid the charge and pretended it was a resort fee, but if you want to minimize the parking costs you can reportedly park at the Whistler Conference Center for just $10 per day, which would save you a bunch over a multi-night stay.
While the Westin Whistler isn’t perfect and probably is probably approaching a need for a renovation, I would not hesitate to return during ski season using SPG points. Staying here makes the logistics of a family ski trip very simple so you can just focus on having fun.
If you have stayed at the Westin Whistler, I’d love to hear more about your experience and tips!
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.