Credit to Author: Dave Pottinger| Date: Tue, 31 Dec 2019 18:25:30 +0000
My wife and I remember partying late at Dubh Lin Gate, and ending up at a wild film fest afterparty. We remember epic runs on Blackcomb, and a long romantic dinner at the Barefoot Bistro. Now we must forget it, recalibrating Whistler for an entirely different audience.
The challenges are famously legion, but more difficult to describe the joys of travelling with young kids.Yet a decision to travel with young kids is much like a decision to have kids in the first place. It’s an exercise in inefficiency, expense, risk and emotional mayhem, but these are worthy sacrifices for the ample, hard-fought rewards.
It just requires a little bit of humour, a lot of patience, and on occasion, a late night trip to the Emergency Room, but I’ll get to that. What’s more, you don’t need to travel to the other side of the world. Consider a winter weekend escape to Whistler. With young kids in tow, you don’t have to worry about fresh powder.
Kids delight in the most simple of pleasures: sugar, swimming, games, adventure, animals, and of course, screens. According to Science (with a capital S) there is no known link between sugar in-take and hyperactivity. Conveniently, Science is nowhere to be found after your kids demolish Cow’s Wowie Cowie waffle cone. Our wired kids were touching everything that said: Don’t Touch and stepping on everything that said: Don’t Step On. We divided and conquered.
Since our ‘spirited’ 6-year-old daughter Raquel was driving us up the wall, she may as well as climb one. My wife took her to The Core, a 5500-sq foot indoor climbing wall located in the Village with plenty of kid-friendly routes to challenge, inspire, and burn off energy.
“She’s a natural,” observed her patient guide, a forty-year climbing veteran. Mom beamed, and joined Raquel on the wall for some vertical bonding.
Meanwhile I took our 3-year-old Galileo to the excellent public library, as well as the impressive Audain Art Museum. Kids respond well to space, the more unusual the space the better. The value of the art is largely meaningless to a three-year old sprawled on the gallery floor enthusiastically creating his own.
Later, on our way to Olympic Plaza, Galileo ran towards a frozen pond in search of goblins. I swooped to scoop him up at the water’s edge, slipping awkwardly in the process. That’s when my ring finger started to throb.
Unsolicited Family Travel Advice #1: Go at the kids pace, avoiding stress by not over-scheduling. Unsolicited Family Travel Advice #2: Never go anywhere without snacks. Advice #3: If the kid is not cold, hungry or tired, don’t even try figure out what the issue is. Probably goblins.
We spent the weekend in a lovely one-bedroom suite at the Westin, conveniently located by the main gondola in The Village. My wife and rejoiced that both kids were at last old enough to sleep next to each other on the pull-out sofa, as opposed to the top of our faces.
Both kids would have been quite content to spend all day in the hotel, playing in the pool and hot tub, running about the plush carpets in the corridors, or hanging with the giant bear in the newly renovated lobby. Somehow they avoided breaking anything of value, other than the most sacred bond of my marriage, but again, I’ll get to that.
Whistler attracts its share of kids, and fortunately, staff we met throughout our stay were noticeably more patient than, say, parents.
The promise of a miniature train chugging throughout the restaurant makes the Whistler Brewhouse a firm family favourite. Unfortunately, the train wasn’t working that night, but our foam-cushioned iPads were.
We used to wither under the sanctimonious glare of disapproving older parents when we handed screens to our kids at restaurants. Then we realized these were jealousglares because older parents were denied the convenience of modern electronic marvels. Loaded up with educational games (Duck Duck Go!) the screens allowed me to devour the best beef ribs on the west coast while the kids actually ate their vegetables.
If you are militant about screen exposure, you’ll enjoy the Pangea Pod Hotel lounge, which offers dozens of complementary board games, kid-friendly flatbreads, and a fantastic location for people watching on the stroll. Pangea has a young, friendly clientele. Depending on how your kids behave, they’ll likely inspire a whole new generation of parents, or serve as an effective form of contraception.
A new winter attraction called Vallea Lumina transforms the dark spooky old forest of Cougar Mountain into a dazzling multi-media lightshow. My kids were terrified, until they weren’t, and then it became the best, day, ever. I mean, magical talking trees! Walking mesmerized through each installation, it felt like we’d entered the frames of a science fiction movie.
Returning to the village via the shuttle bus, my painful ring finger had swollen to the size of a large carrot and turned purple, with my wedding band cutting circulation. This is how I found myself at the Whistler Medical Clinic, laughing as a bemused nurse sawed off my wedding band. Laughing for the symbolism of what this means for the final night of our weekend family escape. My ring has endured dozens of countries and wild adventures, but it met its match with my three year-old in Whistler.
As I pocketed the remains of the sawed band, I figured I can always replace the ring, but not what it stands for.
As for the joys of travelling with young kids?
That reward comes in smiles and fits of infectious laughter. It swells with pride at climbing walls or on ice-rinks, and you see its wide-eyed wonder when snow falls in neon-lit forests.
It diffuses any meltdown with unconditional love, and transcends exhaustion and frustration with ecstatic kids, and the satisfaction of knowing you did your best. An escape to Whistler brings a family just that little bit closer.
Everything else is just another good story to share one day with your future grandkids.
Robin Esrock is the bestselling author of The Great Canadian Bucket List. The writer’s travels were partially covered by Tourism Whistler. It did not review or approve this article.