Family-Friendly Hotels & Rentals in Whistler & Blackcomb

Allura Direct. Want to enjoy all the comforts of a separate bedrooms, a full kitchen  and a washer and dryer?  Try a vacation rental through Allura Direct, which connects Whistler vacation rentals by owner to families hoping to find a little home-away-from home. More than 400 condos, homes and lodges around Whistler, Blackcomb, Creekside and further. The booking engine even allows you to note whether you need free baby equipment, a pet-friendly rental or a private yard.

Kitchen at the kid-friendly Sundial Suites in Whistler

Kitchen at the kid-friendly Sundial Suites in Whistler

Sundial Boutique Hotel.  One of my favorite places to sleep in Whistler — I love this little independently owned boutique hotel, from the compact, fully equipped kitchens to the two-bedroom suites. A room with a view of the skiers (winter) or mountain bikers (summer) provides free entertainment year-round, and is worth the splurge. Sign up for the online e-mail blasts and find out first when the hotel offers deals and specials on the suites.

Tourism Whistler. This site connects you to hotels with availability, so you can compare prices and quality levels. Double-check your deal with a site like Tripadvisor to get some honest reviews (some of the hotels listed wouldn’t be my first choice, but might be yours). Many of the upscale hotels I’ve stayed at (below) I scored through their “Suite Secrets” deals,  which matches budget-minded travelers with Whistler accommodation inventory that hasn’t yet sold. You must book within the next 14 days, so it’s best for last-minute Whistler deals.

Kid-friendly Whistler Chateau Fairmont

Kid-friendly Whistler Chateau Fairmont

Fairmont Chateau Whistler. Amazing breakfast, lots of family activities, (including board games, complimentary bathrobes, tot fun packs), but a bit of a walk from the main Whistler village. However, if you’re planning to spend time at Blackcomb Family Adventure Center or the tubes, it’s perfect. The breakfast at Wildflower is killer (nom, those Pemberton potatoes). If you can, get a mountainside view; the kids may find that watching wildlife is better than  TV.

Westin Whistler. Tidy, tight rooms – but many have a mini-kitchenette and a sofa, and the Whistler-side ski lifts are literally minutes from your door. Check out the “typical” Junior Suites (with oven and microwave) or the one-bedroom suites. The hotel also makes jogging strollers available upon request.

Pan Pacific Whistler. Five-star luxury in two locations — one in the village, and one on the mountainside. I love the Whistler Mountainside‘s gorgeous outdoor hot tubs and spacious suites (with full kitchens). On the other hand, I like the Whistler Village Centre’s great location and free buffet breakfast .

Finding Family Whistler Hotel and Condo Rooms and Deals:

For lodging in Whistler, BC, the peak period is Christmas through New Year’s Eve, when you could pay up to $800 per night or more for a hotel room (No, there’s not an extra $0 in that number) at top properties. Less expensive Whistler accommodations are available in late spring and fall (through the second week of December), although I’ve also found great deals in the middle of summer, when you can take the Mountaineer train up from Vancouver. Winter prices are reasonable, as long as your timing doesn’t coincide with BC school spring break.

When you’re booking your room or condo, ask about noise — any hotel with windows facing certain outdoor plazas and restaurants can get loud until late at night (not good for littles and light sleepers). Construction is often done in summer, so ask about the possibility of jackhammers destroying your baby’s naptime along with outdated hotel rooms.

Have you been to Whistler? I’m always looking for new ideas for great Whistler hotels. Where did you stay, and did you like it?

Our winner of the Roche Harbor Resort Stay is…

From over 300 incredibly enthusiastic entries, we drew Jennifer Koel as our winner for the two-night stay at Roche Harbor Resort! Congrats Jennifer.

If you didn’t win, but still want to go, please check the resort’s deals and packages page.

And next month, we’re going to give away yet another fantastic stay package, including dining credit and spa treatment…it’s a place I’ve covered before…and it’s a resort…hmmm…

A (Very Opinionated) Guide to Social Coupon Deal Sites in the Pacific NW & BC

By now, you’ve probably already signed up for one of the online coupon sites – Groupon, LivingSocial or another – so you can receive great offers directly in your in-box. But did you know it’s also a great idea for family travelers? If you sign up for a favorite city you’d like to visit, you may discover a great deal on a four-star hotel, a favorite family restaurant or an activity you’d always thought you’d like to try but never had the money for (heli-skiing, anyone?).

Right now, it’s mostly the cities that offer great social deals, from Whistler to Eugene, and focused on the big players (Vancouver, Seattle, Portland)

However, read the fine print and use your web research skills. While $40 worth of food for $20 seems like a great idea, but if your steak’s not cooked properly, the fries are limp and your margarita tastes like cleaner, its not such a hot buy. ALWAYS check Yelp.com reviews (in Canada, Dinehere.ca) for general restaurant reviews pre-purchase.

The same goes for hotels. The hotel may be offering the discounted stay because few people have heard of the gem of a stay – or it could be because people have read the Tripadvisor reviews and stay away in droves. Or because it’s located at the airport, which we all know is located NOWHERE NEAR THE FUN STUFF. Or it’s located in a suburb with nothing much going on. Check Tripadvisor and double-check the location. Check the fine print on whether they’re going to charge you extra for kids (and do not buy those that do, unless you have like seven kids and you really won’t fit into a hotel room).


And similarly for activities, services and memberships. I tend to think the memberships are a great deal, particularly in your own city – but sometimes also in cities you plan to visit. At 50% or more off, you may still be saving over the typical family admission. Check fine print about expirations and who’s included (adults only? Kids?).

Finally, one more caveat. Many small businesses feel like the coupon sites are a terrible deal for them – charging immense fees and leaving the small biz unprepared for the onslaught of cheapskate customers. A small biz will have to determine for themselves whether this form of marketing works, but I do advise always tipping for the full amount and not cheaping-out too much.

The sites:

Groupon.com. The Big Daddy of online coupon sites, Groupon is (at this point) one of the best sites to sign up for – there’s a daily deal for every metro area, generally, and most are pretty solid. I’ve seen amazing deals here — 50% off Victoria Clipper fare, great hotels, cool experiences. I dread reading the copy, however. I wish they’d ditch the hyper-adjectives and just give me the information. My sneaking suspicion: Groupon uses MadLibs to write each description.

Destinations covered: Vancouver BC, Victoria, Tacoma, Seattle, Portland.

LivingSocial.com operates much like Groupon, but it also offers the appealing “LivingSocial Escapes,” often to local destinations (Whistler, etc.). Without the annoying writing style.

Destinations: Bellevue, Portland, Seattle, Tacoma, Eugene, Vancouver (BC).

Wagjag.com has offered some fabulous boutique hotel stays and restaurants. I’d sign up for this one if going to Vancouver at any point soon.

Destinations: Vancouver, BC only.

Savvy Source and Mamapedia are both for parents, and often present cool deals for family-centric activities (plays, museums, symphonies, ballets). Of course, sometimes the bargains are a dud or not really family-pertinent, and they’re very limited in cities offered.

Savvy Source Destinations: Seattle

Mamapedia Destinations: Portland, Seattle

Goodnews.com and Stealthedeal.com are also both offered in Vancouver, BC only. Goodnews.com combines local deals with local charitable causes – so you can feel doubly good about your discounted dinner or gelato.

Destinations: Only offered in Vancouver only at this point.

Dealpop.com is the WhitePages entry into the market. Eh. There have been one or two items that are mildly appealing.

Destinations: Seattle only.

Did I miss any coupon sites that offer savings for family travelers?

Military Travel Deals in the Pacific Northwest and BC

Today is Veterans Day in the US and Remembrance Day in Canada; a good opportunity to highlight ways that active duty personnel and veterans can travel our region for a little less:

Active-duty U.S. military personnel save 10% on Amtrak, while VIA Rail Canada offers 25% off fares for Canadian active personnel and veterans.

Disabled veterans can benefit from free camping in Washington State Parks through the Washington State Parks Pass Program.  Both disabled veterans and active military on leave can get a special access pass for camping in the Oregon State Parks.

Great Wolf Lodge, in Grand Mound, Wash., offers discounts to Armed Forces members, with the word HEROES entered into the code box of the reservation page. Proof will be required, and you might check with the hotel in advance to ensure you’re getting a great deal.

Check the “deals” options offered through Northwest Military.

Canadian and US military can benefit from the Victoria Clipper’s special “Military and First Responder Appreciation” rates.

The Military Merits site offers BC, Washington and Oregon hotels with military discounts, along with family attractions, museums, gardens and restaurants. A great site, particularly for travel in the Pacific Northwest.

Veterans Advantage Card, for around $50/year, offers 5% off Continental airlines, 15% off Amtrak and 20% off Choice Hotels, among other deals.

Are there any military discounts or deals you’d like to add to the list?

Washington State Deals and Savings

Washington State deals for family trips in Seattle, Bellingham, the Olympic National Forest, the San Juan Islands and more!

Bellingham and North Cascades Visitors BureauTravel packages

Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau: Getaway coupons to use at the beach

Port Angeles and Sequim Visitors BureauCoupons and discounts

San Juan Islands Visitors BureauSpecials and deals

Seattle SouthsidePromotions and deals

Travel Tacoma: Coupons and savings

Visit LeavenworthSpring specials

Washington State TourismDeals and packages

Wenatchee ValleyPick your own adventure packages and deals

Whidbey IslandDeals and promotions

Did I miss one? E-mail me at lora AT cascadiakids.com

Oregon Family Deals and Savings

Oregon deals, coupons and savings for family vacations in Eastern Oregon, Bend, the Oregon Coast, Newport, Mt. Hood, Portland and Southern Oregon.

Eastern Oregon Visitors AssociationPackages and deals

Eugene, Cascades and CoastDiscounts and special offers

Mt. Hood Territory: Coupons and deals

Newport, OregonSpecial deals and promotions

Oregon’s Adventure Coast (Coos Bay, North Bay, Charleston): Lodging specials

Oregon Coast Visitors AssociationTravel promotions and deals

Seaside Chamber of CommerceDeals and coupons (including kids eat free)

Travel PortlandSpecial offers, coupons and hotel deals

Travel OregonSeasonal offerings

Visit BendHotel and motel deals

British Columbia Deals and Savings

British Columbia deals for families in the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, Okanagan, Sea to Sky Country, North Coast and more.

Tourism British ColumbiaSpecial offers

Tourism BurnabySpecial hotel offers

Tourism ChilliwackCoupons

Tourism Comox ValleyPromotions and packages

Tourism PentictonTravel specials

Tourism Parksville and Qualicum Beach: Coupons and specials

Tourism TofinoHotel specials

Tourism VictoriaSpecial offers and deals

Tourism WhistlerLast minute deals and vacation packages

Have one to suggest? E-mail me at lora AT cascadiakids.com.

Transportation Deals

Check out these travel deals and promotions from regional train and ferry operators.

BC Ferries: Vacation Packages and Mid-Week CoastSaver Summer Rates

Clipper VacationsPromotions (Victoria, San Juan Islands, Seattle)

Amtrak CascadesSpecial offers (BC, Washington, Oregon, includes family deals like kids ride at 50% off)

Black Ball Ferry LineOnline travel specials (Victoria, San Juan Islands, Port Angeles)

Want to suggest a page? E-mail me at lora AT cascadiakids.com