How to save money on your next ski trip to Whistler
It seems like everything is more expensive this year (thank you, inflation), and our wallets are crying just thinking about a ski trip.
Vancouverites are blessed to live only a two-hour drive from Whistler — home to some of the best skiing in the world. But, unfortunately, skiing the mountain or even staying in town is inaccessible for many of us — even more so now that housing prices and grocery costs are worse than before.
But some people committed to skiing and snowboarding will find any way to do it. If you’re trying to make a Whistler getaway happen on a limited budget, we have some tips that may push the cost down enough for it to make sense for your pocketbook.
Try hostel-style accommodations
Set on staying overnight to enjoy the après scene? Skiing multiple days? Or here from out of town? Sometimes there’s no avoiding booking a place to stay in Whistler, but forgoing a traditional hotel or Airbnb can save you quite a bit. Here are some options:
Pangea Pod Hotel
We’ll bet money this is the swankiest hostel you’ve ever stayed in. The property consists of pod-style double beds with blackout curtains, personal fans, lockers for valuables, plus shelves and hooks to store your ski gear.
You can book a pod for yourself or share one with your ski buddy/cuddle buddy to bring the cost down even more. Each suite in the hotel contains a dozen or so pods, with a balcony overlooking the Village Stroll. The suites also contain modular bathrooms with separate toilets, showers, and changerooms to cut down on wait times for each.
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True to its communal-living style, Pangea features a common area known as the living room that serves food, drinks (including yummy cocktails), and even a live DJ.
The best part of this place is its location at the centre of the village, only seconds from the gondola — no more sweating with your ski gear trying to make first tracks.
For the rest of the ski season, we found weekday rates as low as $99 for a single-person pod, with peak rates on weekends going as high as $299.
Whistler Lodge Hostel
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This place was originally built in 1965 by the University of British Columbia’s Varsity Outdoor Club, and has been hosting epic mountain adventures ever since.
The lodge was refurbished in 2015, and now features a gorgeous wooden interior, a spacious lounge, a quiet study area, and a huge outdoor patio in the pine trees. No more hot tub though, unfortunately.
The lodge is ski-out, and only a five-minute walk from the Creekside Gondola. You’re not in the main village, but Creekside still has Dusty’s for a great apres experience and a selection of restaurants.
Dorm beds are built into the walls, so there’s no rattling when your bunkmate gets up in the night, and go for as little as $52.
HI Hostel Whistler
This option is the furthest from the gondolas, so you’ll need to take a free shuttle or drive to the lifts, but it is affordable, modern, and clean, with a massive kitchen to cook your own meals.
The building was custom-built as part of Whistler’s athlete village for the 2010 Olympics, and is now used by skiers on a budget. It features dorm and private rooms, common areas, and patios with mountain views. It also features a work-stay program.
We found dorm beds for $59 and private rooms for $200.
Park for free
Just driving up for a day of skiing? Make sure you know where to park for free — Creekside, Lot 6, Lot 7, and Lot 8 are all free of charge during the day for skiers. No overnight parking is allowed.
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Pack a lunch
While the on-mountain dining options can be tempting, you’ll definitely save money by bringing your own food. Many skiers carry a backpack with the essentials, but if lugging a bag around cramps your style then make sure to know where the backpack hangers are on the mountain — we found one inside the Glacier Lodge near Jersey Cream on Blackcomb.
Buy your lift passes early
It pays to be an early bird if you know you’ll want to ski at Whistler in the coming season. If you’re Canadian or a Washington State resident, don’t make the mistake of buying regularly priced lift tickets — because you’re eligible for a discounted Edge Card.
Edge Cards come in denominations of two, five, or 10, and let you ski at Whistler for less than $100 per day. The only catch is you need to buy them in spring, summer, or fall — if you wait until the season starts they’re no longer for sale.
If you’re a season pass type of person, buying an Epic Pass early also gets you the best rates. Now that Whistler Blackcomb is owned by Vail Resorts, an Epic pass lets you ski at multiple resorts in the Alps, Rockies, California, US, Japan, and even Australia. Pass-holders also get discounts on mountain meals, lodging, and lessons.
Buy groceries in Vancouver or Squamish
Whistler is not that big of a town, and there are limited grocery options. If you’re really keen to save, consider doing groceries for the weekend at No Frills or Costco before you head up — or stop in Squamish on the way.
Consider longer-term gear rentals
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Renting ski gear right in Whistler Village is convenient, but you may be able to get a better deal with all-season-long rentals in Vancouver. Ready to buy your own gear? Deals can be found at the Whistler Blackcomb Outlet Store in Squamish, or at Whistler’s annual Thanksgiving Turkey Sale.
Spa wisely to save
Okay, visiting the spa is not exactly cheap. But after several days of skiing, it certainly feels heavenly. Whistler’s renowned Scandinave Spa offers 15% off the first and last massages of the day — and access to the hot and cold plunge pools is included in the price.
If you have extended health coverage through work, consider scouring Whistler’s spas for an RMT appointment — that way you can claim part or all of the cost back. Spa smarter, not harder!
Editor’s note: Daily Hive was hosted by Pangea Pod Hotel and Tourism Whistler