WHISTLER A HAPPY TUNE; There's much more to British Columbia than skiing - just don't shout about it.
'm lounging in a towelling robe in a solarium, surrounded by mountains capped in evergreen trees, sweating in total silence. I have to say that this is not easy for me, or my equally chatty pal Patsy who is sitting next to me. But there is a good reason for our difficult silence - we are in Whistler's Scandinave Spa, British Columbia, where the sound of silence is golden.
There are no twittering smartphones allowed here, no modern technology to shatter the quiet. And for those who might be tempted to chew the fat, a poster on the wall reminds them clearly of the value of silence. The focus at Scandinave, you see, is on complete and total relaxation.
This road to relaxation starts on arrival with a walk through a mountain-fresh forest of spruce and cedar and I swear I feel calmer in the few minutes it takes us to walk to the front door. To ensure we make the most of our experience, we are briefed on the recommended procedure by the welcoming staff. Basically, it runs along the lines of: 1. Heat up in a eucalyptus steam bath, Finnish sauna or hot baths for 10 to 15 minutes.
2. Cool down quickly with a 20 to 30-second dunk in one of the chilly cold water baths (try doing that in silence).
3. Relax for a minimum of 15 minutes in the solariums, hammocks or terraces. 4. Repeat 1-3. Frustratingly, I find that relaxation does not come easy during my first two tries. During my third dunk, I begin to worry that I have somehow been inoculated against relaxation. Could it have been part of the BCG jag that they didn't tell you about in secondary school, I ask myself? Because, of course, the silence law prevents me asking Patsy. But then, after my fourth daring dunk, I find myself nodding off in a hammock. One up for the value of silence.
My will to speak has always been strong. Leaving Scandinave with our tongues untied and worries washed away, we make up for lost chat time while driving the few miles down the Sea to Sky highway into Whistler village.
Aptly named, the Sea to Sky starts near Vancouver in the British Columbian lower mainland and climbs as far as Pemberton, via Squamish, Whistler and a mountainous feast of textbook Canadian scenery. Along it, bilingual road signs in English and Skwxwu7mesh (or Squamish) are a nice visual reminder of the local indigenous culture.
We check into the perfectly placed Hilton Whistler and head out to explore. It doesn't take long to discover that there's so much more to Whistler than just being one of the world's top wintersports resorts.
In the summer months, the skiing and snowboarding are replaced by activities such as hiking, zipwiring, climbing, mountain biking, white water rafting, geocaching, canoeing, fishing and lots, lots more.
Now, if my will to speak is strong, then my will to eat is often stronger. Luckily, Whistler has a handful of fantastic dining options available, with the institution that is the Bearfoot Bistro among the very best. You know you're in the right restaurant when you are unable to decide between all the mouthwatering menu choices - Fraser Calley squab breast, Atlantic lobster tail, BC rabbit loin, Yakima Valley lamb rack, New Zealand venison tenderloin, to name a few.
But at Bearfoot, you can have it all. Perfect for the indecisive, head chef Melissa Craig has created a five-course tasting menu that comes with a wine tasting menu to boot. Hoorah.
Patsy and I tuck in and again we're silenced, this time not by a poster but by how delicious everything is. All served with that perfect Canadian mix of informal but on-the-ball service, this really is top-class dining.
Next door, the Belvedere Ice Room is home to the coldest vodka tasting room in the world. Wearing Canadian goose feather stuffed jackets for warmth, we are told that -32C (-25F) is an optimum temperature at which to taste vodka. And sure enough, I can taste differences that I'd never noticed before, well, at least for the first two or three shots. By the fifth, which for some reason comes attached to a full-size ski, tasting differences becomes, how can I put it, a challenge. Let's just say the night finished there, or the night finished us here. Both are correct.
The next morning, I'm woken up early by loud, excited children passing my open window as they start their mountain day. Closing the window, I sheepishly crawl back to bed and, as I nod off, there it is again - my new found respect for the value of silence.
Facts.. | Virgin Atlantic fly to Vancouver from Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Manchester, connecting via Heathrow on their Little Red service. Fares start from PS712 return. Visit www.virgin-atlantic.com | The Hilton Whistler is situated in the middle of Whistler village, with summer prices from PS99 per night. Go to www.hiltonwhistler.com | The Bearfoot Bistro is offering a discounted off-season price of PS25 for five courses, Sunday to Thursday. See www.bearfootbistro.com Late deals | Flying from Glasgow on July 3, seven nights in Gran Canaria, staying at the four-star Parque Cristobal in Playa Del Ingles on all inclusive, from PS689 per person, based on two adults sharing. | Flying from Glasgow on July 3, seven nights in Majorca, staying at the three-star Hi! Bouganvilla Park in Sa Coma, on all inclusive, from PS579 per person, based on two adults sharing.
| Flying from Glasgow on July 5, seven nights in Tenerife, staying at the three-star Globales Tamaimo Tropical in Puerto Santiago, self-catering, from PS305 per person, based on two adults sharing. | For these and other deals, log on to www.
thomascook.com, call 0844 412 5970 or visit your nearest Thomas Cook or Co-operative Travel.
Late deals | Flying from Glasgow on July 7, seven nights in Sunny Beach, Bulgaria, staying at the four-star Grand Hotel on all inclusive, from PS389 per person.
| Flying from Glasgow on July 12, seven nights in Calas de Majorca, Majorca, staying at the three-star Calas de Majorca on all inclusive, from PS459 per person. | Flying from Glasgow on July 13, seven nights in Hammamet, Tunisia staying at the four-star Vincci Flora Park on half board, from PS398 per person.
| For these and other deals see www.
barrheadtravel.co.uk or call 0141 222 2223.
STUNNING Whistler's mountain scenery
IT'S OH SO QUIET Patsy at the peaceful Scandinave Spa
TASTE SENSATIONS Left, a treat from the five-course tasting menu at the Bearfoot Bistro. Right, drinking vodka from a ski at -32C at the Belvedere Ice Room
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|Publication:||Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)|
|Date:||Jun 28, 2014|
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