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This year, speaking while on vacation in his native Spain, Enero is relaxed and candid. Taking a break before his newly renovated restaurant re-opens later this month, the proprietor of one of Whistlers favourite dining establishments has every reason to be relaxed. The renovations are complete and the new menu is in place. Enero sounds excited and ready to take on the challenge of La Rúas proximity to the Four Seasons and its Fifty-two 80 Bistro. The new menu builds on the restaurants reputation for seafood, but features surprises such as elk, as well as an expanded appetizer menu to complement the new bar.
When asked if the 11:30 p.m. phone call is too late, he laughs, saying they are just about to sit down to dinner. Despite his jovial holiday attitude, his assessment of the changes of the past 10 years in Whistler is direct and honest.
"Ten years ago there was a good, golden growth. The last three or four years, just a little before 2000, the resort began not to deliver on the reputation that it has," says Enero.
"The resort has always capitalized on being number one for various reasons. But right now it seems confused in the resort. Nobody seems to know what direction to take, we dont provide the service we used to, were content to just say were number one."
He blames the decline in the quality of service on an attitude fostered by Whistlers success. "There seems to be an attitude among some people thats People come here and they pay, so who cares?"
Enero sees the result being discontented tourists that are more than happy to share their negative experience with other prospective Whistler visitors.
"I think people get fed up because they pay top price and they dont get the goods. Take for example, my restaurant. I can be the best restaurant in Whistler, but if youre not happy then I have a problem."
In terms of his own clientele, Enero has seen his American customer base diminish, but he doesnt think the state of the dollar has had, or will have much of an impact.
"If you decide to go to Paris or London, you go even though its very expensive. I dont think the money matters. I look back to the beginning of last year the dollar was 55¢ and we still didnt have the crowds of Americans that are supposed to line up in the resort."
Enero feels that aside from service, the primary issue that makes travellers decide where to spend their vacation dollar is one of value. And while value is a cornerstone concept in Tourism Whistlers new branding strategy, he believes that making up the lost ground of the last couple of years will be difficult.
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