2003 Number 3 Resort in North America: Whistler/Blackcomb, B.C


Hit it right, and you'll have one of the most memorable ski vacations of your life. "The biggest, best and most beautiful place I've ever skied," enthuses a reader. Hit it wrong, however, and you could be frustrated. "Only world-class on the five days per year with clear skies and powder top-to-bottom," a reader complains. And therein lies the special nature of this Canadian giant. Nestled in the lap of B.C.'s majestic Coast Mountains-a two-hour drive from Vancouver-Whistler is like no other resort in North America. For one thing, it's big. Two mile-high mountains covering 7,100 acres big. At a resort this size, if you can't find your perfect run, you're not trying. Hit Franz's in the morning when it's groomed and you'll hoot out loud. Tackle the Dave Murray Downhill before lunch, and imagine tucking it in two minutes. Then peek into Couloir Extreme. When your legs stop shaking, head to the pedestrian-only village. Après legends abound: Dusty's and The Garibaldi Lift Company are the real deal, as is Araxi for dinner. "Best food outside of Europe," says one fan. But W/B does have its dark side. "I don't like going through a rainstorm to ski," says one reader. Still, for most, Whistler's weather is a small price to pay for such a heady experience. "My best ski trip ever," crows a reader. And that's no small accolade. -Michel Beaudry

WHAT'S NEW First Tracks Lodge at Whistler Creek; launch of online booking service at whistler-blackcomb.com; expanded grooming of advanced terrain to increase intermediate access.

A GOOD DEAL Whistler Freeride Days. Ski with some of the biggest new-school stars and learn a few tricks (800-766-0449).

MEDALS GOLD Terrain, Challenge, Value, Lifts, Service, On-Mountain Food, Lodging, Dining, Après, Off-Hill Activities, Family Programs, Scenery, Terrain Parks; SILVER Snow, Grooming.

HIGH/LOW RANK Terrain (2), Après (2), Lodging (3); Snow (41), Access (45), Weather (52).

DON'T MISS The legendary 8th annual Telus World Ski & Snowboard Festival, April 11-20: The largest on-snow party in the galaxy.

READER REMARKS (+) "This is what big-mountain skiing is all about." "Outstanding value. A lot to do." (-) "Fog and rain, even in January and February." "Becoming too big. The village is losing its charm."

Great Lodging Deals here.