November 14, 2012

Mountain High

Whistler is a world-renowned ski resort that is also home to 10,000 permanent residents who relish the lifestyle.


Whistler, British Columbia. “Best place in Canada to raise a family?”

That’s not exactly the normal accolade that you hear when it comes to this four-season resort, located 120 kilometres north of Vancouver on the Sea to Sky Highway.

Since its incorporation in 1975, Canada’s only purpose-built year-round resort town has received an almost embarrassing amount of awards, for everything from village design, customer service and luxury accommodations to, of course, skiing and snowboarding. Just last month SKI, America’s largest circulation winter sports publication, named Whistler-Blackcomb as the No. 1 resort in North America in its annual Readers’ Poll.

Though it has only about 10,000 permanent year-round residents, Whistler stands as one of Canada’s most highly recognized and internationally famous towns. But what’s it really like to live there?

Like any resort town, you can expect to find carpenters, photographers, restaurant owners, retail clerks, hotel employees, ski patrollers – the usual suspects that it requires to successfully operate any tourism business. This diverse group has created a community with an enviable track record for hosting major events that range from the 2010 Winter Games alpine ski events to Cornucopia – an annual food and wine festival that is on par with any similar event at a Canadian city. The list of things to do extends to independent film festivals, summer music concerts, Gay Ski Week and the Crankworx mountain bike event. Held in August, Crankworx is actually Whistler’s busiest weekend of the year.

Urban professionals are finding refuge from their condos in the city and setting up business consultancies in the mountains.

What you don’t expect to find so much – and increasingly will – are urban professionals seeking refuge from their condos in the city and setting up business consultancies in the mountains. The poster family for such a move are people like Frank Salter and Melanie Jones. They lived for eight years in the Lower Mainland – renting homes in Kitsilano and North Vancouver – and bought a share in a condo in Whistler that they’d use on weekends.

Once they had kids, buying real estate in Vancouver was pretty much out of the question. Besides, both Salter and Jones were self-employed – he supervises clinical pharmaceutical trials at sites all around North America, and she is a commercial real estate appraiser. And they still loved to ski. So although many couples might have sold the Whistler condo and moved to the city, Salter and Jones did the opposite – sold their share of the condo to their business partner and moved to Whistler, just in time for the 2010 Winter Games. Their jobs have been made much easier through high-tech communication and high-speed Internet connectivity – though they both make business trips to hit the airport and the Fraser Valley/Sunshine Coast.

After searching for a place to purchase for two years – the inventory of well-built family homes for under a million dollars is still relatively small – the Salters bought an expansive four-bedroom home with a two-bedroom “mortgage helper” suite in Whistler’s Alpine Meadows neighbourhood.

Alpine Meadows homes were first built in the 1970s and feature everything from Quonset-style Gothic arch structures designed to sleep as many ski bums as possible to luxurious chalets with balcony views extending all the way to Black Tusk in Garibaldi Provincial Park. Perched on a south- and west-facing slope four kilometres north of bustling Whistler Village, Alpine is home to hundreds of long-term Whistler residents who generally do “whatever it takes” to both pay the mortgage and be first in line for the gondola on a fresh powder day.

Whistler kids play on the same soccer teams, go to swim lessons, play hockey at the rec centre, and earn badges in Boy Scouts – in short, they do the things that all other children do across Canada. But they’re also able to live a mountain lifestyle that city kids can’t imagine: skiing and snowboarding powder slopes that other kids come from around the world to experience.

Salter concludes: “The value of our home may not see any rise in real dollars in our lifetime, but we ‘dare to dream’ of the days when Whistler real estate was appreciating faster than just about any resort community in Canada. But that’s not what ‘living the dream” is really all about, anyway.”

Baxter Creek

Located 170 metres above Whistler Village and the Valley Trail at the turnoff for the new Rainbow subdivision, Baxter Creek offers outstanding and truly unobstructed views across to the spider’s web of ski runs on both mountains.

The lots have been extensively cleared and landscaped to take full advantage of the south-facing aspect – residents at Baxter Creek won’t be dwelling in gloomy rainforest, here. Home sites vary from around 8,000 to 20,000 square feet, with buildable space in the 2,700 to 3,500-square-foot range.

There is no timeline on building completion, and owners are free to choose their own contractors while adhering to architectural and design guidelines.

To maximize views from every level of a Baxter Creek home, the sites have been graded to terrace down from the street. The on-site amenity centre encourages residents to gather and swim, relax, and barbecue.


Exclusive luxury slope-side living just begins to describe what life is like at Kadenwood, a private, secluded community located on the Creekside of Whistler Mountain. Serviced by its very own gondola and with ski trails cut and groomed right to the door, Kadenwood is the most prestigious neighbourhood of its kind to be built in the Sea-to-Sky corridor. It offers a quiet relaxed setting with amenities such as the legendary Dusty’s Bar & Grill, fine dining at Rim Rock as well as grocery stores, ski rentals and Starbucks.

Among the old growth forest and astounding sun-exposed coast range views, the community blends seamlessly with its surrounding environment. Nowhere else can you so completely hide away, yet be within four minutes of all that Whistler has to offer. Building sites range from one-third of an acre to 1.5 acres, while the total buildable square footage starts at 4,000 square feet, up to 7,500 square feet.

Cypress Place

With views across Nicklaus North Golf Course, and up the soaring peaks of Rainbow, Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, the natural setting of Cypress Place is truly spectacular.

This prime valley location offers plenty of year-round recreational amenities, all within easy walking distance. Meadow Park Sports Centre, cross country ski trails and kayaking on the River of Golden Dreams are just steps from Cypress Place, all accessible via the paved Valley Trail system linking the entire valley. And of course, world-class golfing is just outside your door.

In addition to its prime location, you couldn’t ask for better building conditions: easy access, flat lots, sunny, south-western exposures and amazing views of snow-capped peaks in all directions – Wedge, Armchair, Blackcomb and Whistler.

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