Should anyone ever pen the definitive guide to the world's most divine ski resort hot spots, I would venture that the private spa pool on the balcony outside suite 303 of Whistler's Sundial Boutique Hotel merits a mention. A glass of sauvignon blanc in hand, it proved the perfect place to soothe those aching limbs, peering through the steam at the snowy majesty of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains beyond.
The only owner-operated hotel in what is often said to be Canada's - if not North America's - best ski resort, the Sundial reflects owner David Demer's drive for a more intimate hostelry, luxurious without being pretentious. It has recently undergone a major overhaul and now offers a series of West Coast-style suites, decorated in rich autumnal hues with cosy gas fires.
The hotel lives up to its promise of flexible, personalised service and its unfailingly cheerful staff do not disappoint - doing everything from grabbing your skis for storage the moment you stagger back through the door to arranging for your groceries to be delivered or your pet to be groomed. And if the hot tubs and fireplaces fail to soothe away those skiing aches, there is always the Vital Spirit rejuvenating spa.
Sundial Boutique Hotel, 4340 Sundial Crescent, Whistler, British Columbia (00 1 604 932 2321; www.sundialhotel.com). When the hotel claims it is just a "snowball's throw" from both the Blackcomb and Whistler mountain gondolas, it does not mean you have to be an Olympic athlete to hit the target. It genuinely is a mere few yards from the lifts, a bonus for anyone who loathes long, tortuous treks in ski boots.
Time from international airport: Whistler is two-and-a-half hours along the spectacular "Sea to Sky" Highway 99 from Vancouver airport, with eleven Whistler Express buses scheduled every day in winter.
The hotel has 49 genuinely spacious one or two-bedroom suites which include bathrooms with generous soak tubs and underfloor heating, and well-equipped kitchens.
If the cooking facilities fail to inspire the culinary beast within, the hotel can arrange for a gourmet chef to provide private fireside meals.
Eight suites have spa pools, while other guests can use the new rooftop hot tub. In fact the suites would be near perfect if it wasn't for a curious lack of hooks on which to hang ski gear.
Freebies: Aveda bathroom products, Belgian chocolates and organic fair trade coffee. Warm cider or banana bread in the lobby for wintry evenings.
Keeping in touch: High-speed internet connections in every room. Internet services are also available in the lobby and in the cyber café which offers a range of services including printing off international newspapers.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Rates start at C$199 (£95) for a one-bedroom suite in low season, rising to C$1,051 (£505) for a two-bedroom with private hot tub over Christmas. Winter rates average at C$500-600 for a one-bedroom suite.
I'm not paying that: The Coast Whistler Hotel is also in the village at 4005 Whistler Way and offers standard doubles in winter from around C$140 (£70), room only (00 1 604 932 2522; www.coasthotels.com).Reuse content