Whistler’s AlpenRock House all about entertainment
By Paul Andrew
A complex series of rooms and wide-open walkways that seamlessly connect some 38,000 square feet of space underneath the west end of Whistler Village, AlpenRock House is ready to open July 29 after three years of renovations and a $6.6 million investment.
The "village within a village," in its finishing stages this week, will house 16 licensed bowling lanes and up to 30 snooker and billiard tables.
The most significant area for adults to enjoy is the nightclub that will be licensed for 415 people, and could handle up to 600 people for an all-ages event. The stage, lights and sound are all state of the art, says general manager Dave Branigan.
"We’ll use lasers for lights, not the traditional light cans that have been used since the ’70s," said the former manager of the Longhorn Saloon in Whistler. "It’s all set up to look like the high alpine sky on a clear night. All of it state of the art."
Branigan, was hired by MagiCorp and flown to Zurich last month to train at the original AlpenRock House, which is owned by SwissAir subsidiary Flughafen-Restaurant. That location, which opened in 1996, is less than half the size of the Whistler location and has grossed some $10 million during its three years of operation.
The Whistler version of AlpenRock House is a joint venture between MagiCorp and Flughafen-Restaurant.
The sprawling layout of the entertainment complex in Whistler has pool tables lining the walkways, three bowling areas, (two with four lanes each and one with eight lanes), and at least 10 Swiss chalets incorporated into the design. At least four of these chalets acts as dividers between the main entertainment area and the rest of the complex, and act as a seating area for the restaurant with an unhindered view of the stage.
Although numerous live bands have been booked for the nightclub two months in advance, a DJ will provide danceable music most of the time. Michel Chartrand, who goes by the stage name DJ Peace Frog, is among the 94 people who have been hired locally to operate AlpenRock House.
"The demographic is 21-39," Branigan said. "But during the day, at least until 8:30 p.m. or 9 p.m., minors will be allowed in. We’ve got a huge demand for bowling leagues and the registration is crazy. There’ll be 16 teams per league and eight people per team."
The four-lane bowling areas will be 10-pin bowling with a five pin bowling ball and will feature glow in the dark "Alpenglow" bowling with computerized scoring. The other eight lanes will be set up as a "retro" bowling alley and will also feature Alpenglow lighting.
Branigan says the B license seating a few feet from the bowling lanes will allow liquor to be served with food. The combination of the 415 A and B licensed seats for the restaurant/nightclub and the 16 bowing lanes and 30 pool tables brings the total number of licensed seats in AlpenRock House to 600. However, Branigan said the specific number of licensed seats other than the "village" area of the entertainment complex have not been worked out.
Another thing yet to be worked out is the scheduled opening of July 29. Although AlpenRock House would like to be known as a live nightclub venue, with big name bands such as Johnny Favourite, scheduled for July 30, Nickelback for Aug. 6, Jimmy Cliff for Aug. 11 and David Wilcox for Aug., 20-21, no live act has been scheduled for the July 29 opening.
"We may have to reschedule Johnny Favourite, and if we do, he’ll be back at a later date," Branigan said Tuesday during a media tour of the complex.
"But I believe AlpenRock House can fill a cultural void in Whistler. Romeo and Juliet, which is being produced by Stewart Glen of the Alta Lake Theatre Group, will stage the play here Aug. 26 or 27. That will have to be worked out. And there’s other local groups in need of a stage. But we would like to come out of the gate right away as a live venue."