Responsible Hotel Review: Summit Lodge in Whistler

By Johanna Read, Photos by Johanna Read.

Summit Lodge Boutique Hotel is one of those special hotels that does special things for both its guests and its employees. The 81-room hotel aims to keep both its guests and its employees happy and smiling.

They believe in honesty, integrity and a commitment to local people and the local environment. They give back to the community, and empower staff to make decisions.

Summit Lodge has great employment policies and practices, which can be particularly challenging in resort towns. Though Whistler is a four-season destination, summer and the ski season are high season and many hotels don’t provide year-round employment. Summit does. Staff are cross-trained so that they can take on different duties during low season. An employee may do housekeeping during the busy season, but has been trained to drywall, reupholster or restore wood furniture in the low season. Other employment benefits are a travel allowance, staff housing and lots of training and career building opportunities. Summit even supported one staff member who, after receiving her Canadian residency, wanted to start her own eco-cleaning supply company. That’s a commitment to employees!

Summit also has a commitment to animals. They've built bee condos for pollinator bees (usually forgotten about, next to their mighty big brother, the honey bee), and planted gardens to cater to other pollinators like butterflies. They donate to WAG, Whistler’s animal shelter and animal rescue centre (which also has drop-in volunteering if you’re missing your own pet!).

Of course they welcome pets too, in fact, there’s a blackboard in the lobby listing all guest pets by name, in case your dog wants to arrange a play date. Talitha, Summit’s Rottweiler, is regularly found at the front desk greeting guests (when she’s not napping). There are pet-free rooms too, for anyone with allergies.

Also at the front desk (but out of reach of Talitha) is a tray of sweet treats, to which you can help yourself. Next to the lobby there’s a little coffee room, where you can make yourself a speciality coffee or hot chocolate, complete with whipped cream and sprinkles. To help kids who might feel a little homesick (or adults who just love cool things), you can borrow a betta fish to stay in your room and keep you company.

Summit’s range of services is far reaching. Want to get married? Same-sex marriage has been legal in Canada since 2003, and Summit Lodge has an expert same-sex (and opposite-sex too) wedding planner. The hotel is TAG approved LGBT-friendly accommodation, which means it not only caters to LGBT guests, but that their employment policies, practices and services support the LGBT community.

Superfly Ziplines, Whistler. Photo by Johanna Read.

Whether you’re in Whistler to get married or not, how about a 1-hour free bike rental? To encourage you to get out and explore, Summit Lodge has paired with Spitfire, the bike and scooter company at its front door. Every guest gets a 1-hour free bike ride, or to explore further, rent a bike or Honda Giornos scooter, which is fuel efficient with low CO2 emissions. In winter, Summit offers free snowshoe rentals for kids and grownups, and recommends the best trails depending on your fitness level, time available and whether your dog is accompanying you.

Winter or summer, check out Whistler's fantastic scenery from above the trees via zipline with Superfly Ziplines. Walking to the pickup point from Summit is quick -- you won't even have time to finish the sprinkle-laden coffee you've made for yourself!

At Summit you can even experience an authentic Javanese spa — the only one in North America. The Taman Sari Royal Heritage Spa uses organic ingredients and traditional techniques to ensure you're relaxed, even if you’ve spent the entire day tackling Whistler’s incredible ski slopes, or if you extended your bike rental a little longer than you should have. The hotel has a pool and hot tub to further your relaxation too.

Editor's note: The writer was hosted by the hotel, but all opinions are her own and no one from the hotel reviewed or approved the article.

Published: 3/1/2016

Johanna Read is a Canadian freelance writer and photographer specializing in travel, food and responsible tourism. A former Government of Canada executive, Johanna retired early to pursue her passion: travel. Writing for a variety of print and digital publications, she encourages sustainable travel and promotes unique destinations. A 2016 goal is repeating her six-continents-in-one-year travel feat.