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The Pangea Pod Hotel, Whistler BC

“Pod” hotels are pretty popular in Asia. They’re less expensive, and the footprint of the hotel itself takes up less space, making it ideal for crowded cities. 

I’ve never traveled to Asia, and I’ve never stayed in  pod hotel. Till now. 

A decade and half or so ago, I did backpack around the UK a bunch, and I primarily stayed in hostels. Hostel living can be really fun; you meet cool people from all over the world, and the price is right for those travelling on a budget. However,  you lack privacy and if you’re an introvert, it can be your worst nightmare. 

So I had a few misgivings when I headed up the Sea To Sky highway recently with my galpal, Farzana. 

We’d both had a pretty intense few months dealing with work and some personal stuff, and we decided to do a 24-hour getaway/staycation to reset.

We booked into the Pangea Pod Hotel, which is, by far, the most affordable hotel stay in Whistler. Many places start at $300/night, and the Pangea starts at around $60 per person. 

The hotel itself is perfectly located. You literally could not ask for a more central location. It’s right in the heart of the village, within easy walking distance to all of Whistler’s main attractions. 

The Pangea has been open just a year, and business is great, the manager told me. 

It’s not surprising. The hotel offers a ton of amenities. 

Besides it being centrally located, the hotel itself is beautifully decorated and quite charming. There are several murals painted by local artist @olavolo (yay for supporting local artists!) both in the vestibule, and in the feature wall of The Living Room. The Pangea also features tons of storage for mountain bikes in the summer, and skis and snowboards in the winter. 

The Living Room is the Pangea’s common space. During the day, it acts as a lounge/coffee shop, where you can hang out and do some work on your computer. At night, it becomes a bar. There are board games, karaoke, and brunch, all overlooking Whistler’s main drag. 

the Romina Sour: gin, cassis, lemon, egg white, edible orchid

The food was good. I was especially impressed with the variety of vegan and gluten-free menu items. They’re well known for their “flabreads” (pizza), which makes a great happy-hour snack, and some pretty slammin’ cocktails. 

Vegetarian Butternut Squash Flatbread

Vegan Flatbread Pangea Pod Hotel

Vegan Flatbread

There’s also a rooftop bar on a patio, where you can order a drink and watch the world go by. Each of the pods also has its own small private patio. 

Another thing I really liked about the hotel was how modern it was in terms of technology. Check-in was done via ipads at the front desk, and I received updates from the hotel on my phone via text message. Doors to the pods were unlocked with RFID bracelets. 

But pods–let’s talk about them–because this is where I was feeling some anxiety. Our pod contained 8 bunks, and it also had two WCs, two sinks, a shower and a changing room. There were four bunks downstairs and four upstairs in our little pod. 

Each bunk easily sleeps two, and hotel accommodation includes linens and towels, you don’t have to bring your own. Each bunk includes a place to hang your clothes, shelving, a mirror, a light, USB charging stations, and a curtain for privacy. Across from the bunks, you’ll find lockers for storing your valuables (be sure to bring your own lock). 

Pods are either front-entry (cheaper and harder to get into) or side-entry. They also provide female-only pods if that makes you more comfortable. 

Breakfast at the Pangea. (photo by clint trahan / clinttrahan.com)

Okay! So now for the tough questions: was it weird sleeping with strangers? Did anyone snore? Did we feel safe? 

I gotta say, the whole experience was surprisingly pleasant. It was quiet. The hotel has built-in fans that provide white noise, so that helps to disguise any ambient noise of people coughing, turning over, etc. The pods themselves are very quiet. 

In fact, I was a bit surprised we didn’t make more friends while we were there. Most people seemed to keep to themselves, other than a friendly greeting. Maybe this was because we weren’t travelling solo? 

The bunks themselves were really comfortable. The mattress was great, the linens were clean, and it was cozy. It reminded me of camping–but nice camping–glamping. 

There were a few things we thought could be improved on. First off, there was not really anywhere to sit down. A few chairs scattered around would have been helpful for say, putting on and taking off shoes. Secondly, while the storage lockers were big, I found that whole process a bit frustrating. When I stay at a hotel, I usually put my suitcase somewhere so I have easy access to my things. In this case, it was challenging to have to paw through my bag every time I needed something, and I often found myself misplacing stuff. We could possibly have found it a bit easier if we had used two lockers instead of one, but the lockers could have been improved with maybe some hooks or some shelves. The last thing we had a bit of an issue with was that the shared bathrooms used towels to dry your hands with after washing. I appreciate that this is the more environmentally-friendly route, and makes it feel more like a hotel, it made me a bit nervous to use a towel that many (?) people had used before. I ended up bringing my own towel (the one supplied by the hotel) to wash with–if I could remember. 

Surprisingly, I never had to wait for the bathroom, there was always one available. And everything was really clean, which we appreciated. 

So, despite my misgivings (mostly because I was unsure of what to expect), I really liked the Pangea Pod Hotel. Next time you’re in Whistler, check it out! 

Here’s a video of our adventure, including a look inside the Pangea: 

9 Things To Do with Your Kids in Whistler

With any luck, you’ll never hear “Mom, I’m bored!” although my kid would be happy to spend his entire vacation in the hotel pool.

The great outdoors rules. Bring your bikes, or rent them for the 40kms of bike paths that surround Whistler. There are 5 lakes within biking distance, and beautiful trails through the woods.

Michael and I with our guides after a successful white water rafting trek down the Chickamose.

Michael and I with our guides after a successful white water rafting trek down the Checkamus.

White knuckles, white water: Leaving from Squamish, you can do a white-water rafting trip down the Checkamus River. More daring (and older—you need to be 13) kids can take the more advanced trek down the Elaho. The scenery is spectacular, the water is icy, and the trip alternates between rollicking rapids and calm floating.

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Peak Early: a marvel of engineering, the Peak-to-Peak Gondola is the longest unsupported span in the world, and goes from the top of Whistler Mountain to the top of Blackcomb Mountain. It’s 4.4 km of fantastic (unobstructed by towers) views. Catch the Gondola on the Whistler side. The ride up to the top takes about half and hour, and then 11 minutes from Peak to Peak. Gondolas depart every 49 seconds, but if you want to take the glass-bottomed car, you’ll have to wait a bit longer—those ones only go every 20 minutes. There are lots of opportunities for hikes, wildlife sightings, and photos. On the weekend, they do a BBQ.

Mario Mini Golf!!

Mario Mini Golf!!

Family Adventure Zone: from the top of Blackcomb, take the gondola down to the bottom, where you’ll find the Family Adventure Zone at the base. Here, you’ll find heaps of stuff to keep everyone happy: from Mario Mini Golf to go-carting, to a luge-like slide, to a gyroscope.

Get Zippy: If your kids are older than 6, and of the adventurous type, ziplining is the closest you can come to feeling like flying. The tour leaves from the base of Whistler mountain, and, after safety training, they bus you way up into the mountains, near the Olympic bobsled track. You then get to zip from treetop to treetop, across a canyon. It’s a real rush, terrifying, and yet at the same time, so much fun.

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Get High: Check out Bounce, an indoor Trampoline Park in Function Junction.

 Culture, old chap: Both the Squamish Lil’Wat Cultural Centre and the Whistler Museum & Archives will fill you in on the rich history of Whistler and its original (Aboriginal) peoples.

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Feel like an Olympian: You’ll see legacies from the 2010 Olympic Games in many places, and they create great photo ops for you and your kids. At the Olympic Centre in the Village, they also have free concerts on the weekends.

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Village Stroll: Just strolling through the village is an adventure itself, with lots to delight the kids. Near the Olympic Park, you’ll find an outstanding playground (even my 11-year-old, who is “too old” for playgrounds remarked how great it was), with a Starbucks next door.

Meet your maker: Farmer’s Markets take place Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings in the summer.

Next up: where to eat in Whistler with your kids.

 

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