By ALEXANDRA GILL
Saturday, February 7, 2004 - Page T12
SUNDIAL BOUTIQUE HOTEL, WHISTLER, BC
Floating spread-eagled in a private hot tub with a glass of champagne at my side, I can't imagine a more glorious way to unwind after a long day of shredding powder on Whistler Mountain. Small is not a description that immediately pops to mind as I soak up the soaring glacial vista and wide starry skies. No, small is definitely not a word that is ever associated with this world-renowned winter resort, which boasts more than 2,800 hectares of terrain, 200-plus trails, 33 lifts, 12 alpine bowls, three glaciers, and the two greatest vertical rises in North America.
But wouldn't you know it? Here I am, secluded by six-foot snowdrifts on my very own heat-traced wood deck, living in the lap of luxury at the intimate Sundial, Whistler-Blackcomb's newly opened, one and only, owner-operated boutique hotel. It doesn't get better than this.
There are other small hotels in Whistler-Blackcomb Village, but they are all time-share operations. At the Sundial Boutique Hotel, you will not encounter any proprietary condominium owners sneering down their noses at lesser mortals who don't own a stake in the resort. All guests are equal. Well, except perhaps for those who can afford the ultrapremium two-bedroom penthouse suite on the seventh floor.
During the second weekend of January, it seemed as though most of the visitors were families. Blessedly, there was not one obnoxious conventioneer or wild teen-party animal to be found.
Originally built in 1982, the entire building was gutted and renovated last year. The warm, wide-open ambiance of the lobby extends into all 49 suites, appointed with heated slate floors, cozy fabrics in reds, brown and yellow, as well as natural pine cabinetry, tables and trimming. With the exception of the banged-up elevators (yet to be replaced), and faux-wrought-iron balconies on the building's exterior walls, the Sundial is all about classic West Coast style -- simple, spacious, bright and clean.
All 49 self-appointed suites -- one- or two-bedroom -- feature fully equipped kitchens, queen-sized pullout sofas, heated floors, gas fireplaces and deep soaker tubs. Eight of the premium suites feature private outdoor hot tubs, and some have indoor Jacuzzis. Amenities include Aveda products in the bathroom, fresh flowers, hospitality baskets stuffed with power bars and heavenly plush Serta mattresses. A CD player and robes would definitely be welcome additions.
From the front desk to housecleaning, the entire staff was prompt, pleasant and friendly, but not overly so. Pets are welcome, for $30 a night. Underground parking costs $15 a day. Internet service will soon be available in the lobby and a common roof-top hot tub is scheduled to open this summer. The hotel does not have a fitness centre, but the independently operated Vital Spirit Rejuvenating Spa has just opened on the second floor. Relax with a lavender-milk manicure or mountain-pine pedicure while a valet fetches you a few bottles of cabernet at the liquor store. He offered, honestly.
Food and drink
The hotel does not have its own restaurant or offer food-and-beverage room service. There are, however, three restaurants within the same complex: Sushi Village, Black's Pub and Amami Chinese Cuisine. To get to them, you do have to go outside. The concierge can arrange grocery and liquor-store delivery. And since the hotel is at the heart of the Village, about 30 metres away from the gondola, there are plenty of eating options around.
Things to do
Sure, you could soak in the hot tub all day. My friend did just that and enjoyed his stay immensely.
But the conditions at Whistler are excellent this winter. With more than 670 centimetres of snowfall recorded by the end of January, you would be a fool to do anything but start making tracks up those mountains.
Sundial Boutique Hotel: 4340 Sundial Cres., Whistler; 1-800-661-2321; http://www.sundialhotel.com. Rates start at $699 for a one-bedroom suite during the regular ski season.
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