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Whistler Weekend Getaway, Crystal Lodge

Whistler is a town situated just a 2 hour drive North from Vancouver, nestled at the bottom of Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains. The area is famed for being one of the largest ski resorts in North America as well as a mecca for adventure!

Summer sees the ski resort transform into a mountain biking paradise with a whole host of summer adventure activities for the adrenaline junkies or visitors looking to enjoy British Columbia’s great outdoors.

Being so close to Vancouver, Whistler is perfect for a weekend or week long getaway. With Vancouver’s International Airport located on popular routes to and from Australasia and Europe, it is also a great opportunity for a stopover. When we flew back from New Zealand to the UK we stopped in Vancouver and had a 10 day holiday in Whistler, and it only cost us an extra $500! If you want tips on how best to do this, let me know in the comments below ( I used to be a travel agent so have all the travel hack secrets).

What can we do in a weekend in Whistler? 

Whistler has a huge selection of accommodation options and we were lucky enough to stay at The 4* Crystal Lodge & Suites located right in the heart of Whistler’s village district, with shops, bars, cafes and restaurants right on our doorstep. Being so close to all of the action means you have more time to fill your weekend with activities.

Our Crystal Queen Room had all the modern comforts you’d expect and felt more like an apartment than a hotel room, our huge comfy sofa (which pulls out to make an extra bed) was perfect to kick back with a glass of wine and enjoy a movie night on the flatscreen TV. After we checked in with the friendly hotel staff it was time to relax in our room before we headed out for the evening. The deep soaker tub and a glass of red wine hit the spot. If you are feeling active you can use their Fitness Centre and then relax in the Sauna afterwards.

The hotel also has weekly complimentary hosted receptions between 3.30 – 4.30pm that include BC’s finest Craft Beers, Crystal Cocktails, Signature Wines from Basalt Wine + Salumeria, Gelato or Hot Chocolate with Baileys or Self Serve Iced Tea.

Being just a 2 minute walk from the Gondola Hub it was a perfect base to access all of Whistler’s activities. Mountain Bikers and Skiers will have their Ski’s and Bikes valeted (complementary) and be on the slopes in no time at all. They even have a bike wash with a new Bike Tuning Station so you can mount your bike and rebuild using the tools attached from the comfort of your hotel.

In winter there is a games room for all the big kids and upon check in you receive a Crystal Advantage Card which offers discounts for dining, retail and salons in the village.

Dinner that evening was enjoyed at Basalt Wine + Salumeria which is conveniently accessed directly from The Crystal Lodge as well as from the Village Stroll.

Basalt has a cosy outdoor patio dining area in a fantastic space to watch people go by. Their charcuterie and cheese boards will have you’re inner foodie covered. We enjoyed some dishes from their 3 course prix fixe menu.

Get ready for your tastebuds to start watering because I have listed below what we ate – just because it was so damn delicious I just had to share.

Calamari with Lemon and Chilli Falafel with tahini mint yoghurt to start was just what the doctor ordered followed by a New York Strip Steak and Sumac Roasted Fish with apple caper tomato salsa, cured yam + chickpea hash, swiss chard and butter chicken sauce. For dessert I opted for the Coconut, Lemongrass and Ginger Popsicle with salty roasted peanuts, lemon raspberry kombucha granita and smoked coconut toffee. Phil had the Cheese Board with welsh cheddar, le gruyère classic, house made labneh and fig + caramelized onion jam. Isn’t that enough to make you start drooling.

After a couple of awesome Basalt cocktails and yummy Canadian craft beers we were ready to turn in for the evening so we were rested for our action packed next day!

We start our leisurely morning with breakfast in bed (OJ and pastries from the local market) and relax by the outdoor heated Swimming Pool and Hot Tub which is open 365 days a year. Plush pool towels are provided and it’s the perfect way to relax before our afternoon of adrenaline activities begin.

There are an abundance of adrenaline filled activities to choose from in Whistler and we decided to do the BC RZR Tour from The Adventure Group (TAG). These are 4WD Off Road buggies that will take two people up Cougar Mountain on an adventure of a lifetime. The TAG office is located in Whistler Village and after a short ride in the minibus out to Cougar Mountain, about 20 mins north of Whistler, we arrived at the TAG base camp.

We are introduced to our RZR Guides and supplied with our helmets and goggles. We pair up and get into our RZR’s (there was plenty of time to swap over drivers, so no fighting for the drivers seat haha) excited to see what lay ahead and set off into the Canadian Mountains with our guide.

It was unbelievable what terrain we were able to drive up, over and through in these 4 wheelers. Novice and adventurous drivers alike will have no problems piloting these through anything the Canadian wilds throw at you. Watch out for the big puddles though, you will get wet if you go full speed ahead as demonstrated in the first 10 minutes by a driver on our tour who got very muddy.

We climbed up Cougar Mountain to some fabulous views over the adjoining mountain ranges, great photo opportunities await and plenty of time to experience the old tracks of the mountains.  Driving through the Hemlock, Fir and Red Cedar forests you feel like you are a million miles away from civilisation.

RZR Tour Views Whistler

Our off road tour lasted approximately 2.5 hours and after that a hot shower was needed. Wear old clothes if you are visiting over the summer months as the terrain is very dry and dusty. Queue hilarious dust beard photos when removing your helmet at the end.

We head back onto the minibus heading for Whistler and say farewell to the base camp…for now! Later that evening we also planned to come back and visit the spectacular Vallea Lumina which is also hosted in the evening by The Adventure Group.

We first saw a video online for Vallea Lumina last year and have wanted to go ever since, they have tours running from sundown via a complementary shuttle from Whistler Village during the summer months.

Once the sun has set and you arrive back at Cougar Mountain the whole place is transformed into an immersive ranger camp complete with campfires and songs set amongst the festoon lanterns and log cabins.

Ranger guides will send you on your way into the dark forest guided by lit walkways – soon after we began we were greeted by the most amazing light shows and visual effects amongst the giant forest.

Vallea Lumina, Whistler

Sound and lighting effects galore will have you feeling like you stepped straight into an enchanted forest Disney movie and have the magical feels all around. When exploring the sights and wonders of the forest make sure to stop and wait at the installations for their surprises.

Vallea Lumina Whistler

Our walk took approximately 1 hour from start to finishing back at the basecamp, where buses are waiting to take you back to Whistler -that is if you are done enjoying the campfires at basecamp of course.

Thank You to Crystal Lodge, The Adventure Group and Basalt Wine + Salumeria for hosting us, our stay was gifted and all opinions are our own. We truly only recommend places that we absolutely love.

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What you didn’t know about Eloping in Las Vegas

DSC_6039Ever wondered what it’s like to get married in the wedding capitol of the world? Then my little blog post should hopefully shed some light on our awesome experience for you.

If this is the first time that you have been on everthewanderer.com – firstly welcome and thank you so much for taking the time to explore my page. Let me give you a little background on how Phil (my now husband, I still love saying that!) and I decided to elope.

Phil and I have been together for 12 years, we met at University and instantly had a mutual intense love for travelling the world. We have lived and worked in New Zealand, Australia and Canada as well as travelled to many other countries. When Phil proposed, whilst we were snorkelling on a trip in New Caledonia we couldn’t wait to plan our wedding.

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Low and behold 6 months later we got married…in Las Vegas. Now this was not my first choice of venue – I wanted to get married in the UK in a very traditional way and was swept away with the romanticism that came along with planning a big white wedding. The problems with this idea – we were living in New Zealand so really far from home and a lack of expendable money!

One day Phil said that we should get hitched in Vegas (I thought that he was joking) so didn’t think much of it! I didn’t really want to get married in a tacky chapel with Elvis singing “Viva Las Vegas”. But the idea did grew on me the more I researched and realised that A) It was amazing value and B) You can get gorgeous wedding packages with phenomenal photography.

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After hours of looking for advice on wedding blogs and scrolling through numerous wedding photography websites we finally found a company that was able to create an elopement package that our dreams were made of.

Cactus Collective Weddings create elopement packages to suit many budgets and offer the photography quality that we were after (just look at our photos ) You can easily get married in Las Vegas for $200 including photo’s with other companies, but if quality is what you are wanting then I wouldn’t opt for this.

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So after making our deposit and setting a date we planned the remainder of our trip. We decided that we would elope with just the two of us, no family or friends in May of 2017, when the weather in the desert is just right and not too hot. 6 months after getting engaged we flew to Los Angeles where we embarked on a Californian Road Trip of a lifetime. Getting married was to be the finale to our trip and it was seriously worth the wait.

On our wedding day we woke up from our Suite in Caesars Palace (which we got a complementary upgrade to – more on how to do this in the Las Vegas blog post coming soon) and walked over to The Bellagio where we hired a black convertible Ford Mustang for the day. After driving back to the Caesars Palace valet with the roof down (honestly felt like we were in some Hollywood Movie doing this) we made our way down to the pool, and these pools are insane!

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I can honestly say that never in a million years did I imagine that on my wedding day I would be lying on a plush sun lounger by the pool at Caesars Palace, listening to sweet DJ music and drinking Margaritas before midday (my all time favourite cocktail) We swam, ate lunch and bathed in the Nevada desert sun before making our way to our room to get dolled up for our sunset ceremony.

If you were ever curious to what it might feel like to be famous then all you need to do is wear a wedding dress and walk arm in arm with your other half through the hotels of the Las Vegas strip. The amount of kind well wishes and compliments we received was so heart warming.

Of course on your wedding day something has to go wrong. Our sat nav did not entirely know the destination of our ceremony- possibly had something to do with the fact that we were having it in the middle of the desert about a 40 minute drive out of the city. Luckily road signs still exist and we made it to the venue, albeit only 20 minutes late.

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One of the amazing things about booking an elopement package is that pretty much everything is done for you. All we needed to do was pick up our Marriage Licence (which is super easy to do) the day before and bring this with us.

When we arrived at our chosen venue – Nelson Ghost Town,  we were greeted by our photographer and minister who had our floral arrangements. After receiving a talk on the dangers of the cactus plant and signing a waiver we made our way to our “alter” to say our vows. This was a wooden archway with stain glass overlooking a Cholla Cactus garden at sunset in front of a stunning red rock canyon.

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Within 10 minutes of arriving we were saying our vows to each other. Bonnie, our minister had asked us to complete a questionnaire on our relationship prior to coming and this enabled her to create the most personal and passionate service, we were so moved by her words. It felt like she had known us for years.

As the sun set and the ceremony came to an end we had 2 hours of photography to celebrate becoming Mr and Mrs.  Nelson Ghost Town sits in Eldorado Canyon and is a deserted gold mine. Host for many photo shoots this truly unique location is home to many old vintage cars, barns and trinkets. Exploring the site was so much fun and we ended up with some breath taking photos.

Once the shoot was done we rolled down the roof on our convertible and drove back to the city with the bright lights of the strip leading the way.

If you like the sound of this elopement, consider Las Vegas. I wouldn’t have changed a thing ❤️

 

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Next Adventure-Perth!

image It has been a while since I have posted on Ever The Wanderer. Whilst busy training as a International Travel Consultant I have been storing up ideas to pass on to you lovely readers. BUT first things first-my next adventure awaits and I am super excited to be going to Perth, Western Australia. Watch this space because my trip is jam packed with the must see destinations and things to do and I will be reporting back right here for you to see. Any advice-pass it on and ill see you all in a few weeks.