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Vacation, Ironman Style

Guest review by Brenda Arechiga


Six months ago when my husband told me he wanted to do an Ironman Triathlon, I insisted we pick a top destination for his first full Ironman.  I had always wanted to visit Whistler, B.C. so despite the formidable cycling course, Whistler it was.

My husband is a visually impaired distance runner and endurance athlete. We typically use his races as fun long weekends for both of us. We have flown to Boston and Chicago for World Majors and taken road trips to St. George, Utah and Santa Cruz for smaller events. With 10 years of race travel under our belts, we have a pretty clear idea of what kind of experience we like to create for ourselves. So, as soon as he began his grueling training schedule, I began researching hotels in Whistler.

VRBO and AirBNB was not an option for us. We tried it last summer on a trip to Santa Cruz for a half Ironman and I quickly learned I did not enjoy stripping beds or doing other housework on my vacations. I wanted a cozy but modern hotel within walking distance of the Ironman Expo and Finish Line. Since we were also considering bringing our two dogs, we also needed a pet friendly hotel.

With the help of some favorable reviews on Ironman blogs and chats, we zeroed in on The Summit Lodge.  Based on the website photos, I was sold! It had the cozy, lodge like feeling I was looking for. It was dog friendly and it was literally across Main Street from the Ironman Expo and finish line. The hotel also had a spa which was another bonus.

We arrived on an unusually warm Thursday afternoon. We were already mesmerized by the drive up to Whistler. Turquoise blue lakes on one side of the highway and a few waterfalls on the other. I was immediately charmed by the hotel’s large wrap around porch that offered seating at tables and chairs.  The lobby which had two large seating areas on either side of the front desk was buzzing with great energy.

Our room was the perfect size and had was decorated with beautiful, elegant furnishings. There was even a cozy throw for the couch tucked away in the stylish armoire. The small kitchen was stocked with everything we might need. Keurig coffee maker, teas, electric stove top along with basic cookware, mini refrigerator and a microwave. 

The location was actually better than I expected. In addition to being just a short walk from the Ironman Expo and Finish Line, we were also very close to a large super market where we made frequent shopping trips. We were also just across the way street from the pubs, shops and restaurants. Our favorites were The Creperie Montagne, Elements and we also had loved the lively energy of The Brewhouse at Happy Hour.  My husband’s guide for the Ironman and his girlfriend who also stayed at Summit Lodge, thoroughly enjoyed the hotel’s weekend wine tasting hosted in the lobby.

We had considered renting a car but found we didn’t need one. Everything we needed was within walking distance. When we decided to go for a swim at Alta Lake’s Rainbow Park, the staff at the hotel was always happy to call a Resort Taxi for us.  There were always fluffy beach towels available at the front desk. Alta Lake was also accessible via the Valley Trail but I decided to save the long walk for race morning when I went out to Rainbow Park to watch the swim.

It was thrilling to watch my husband and his guide Loren cross the Ironman finish line just as the sun was setting in 13:48:22. After halfheartedly attempting to eat a slice of pizza in nearby Olympic Plaza, I escorted them back to the Summit Lodge. As they stumbled along, Loren, who is now an Ironman 11 times over said it best when he said, “Aw man, I’m so glad the hotel is right across the street.”