Whistler’s image today is a far cry from what it was 20 years ago, but what exactly it is today is difficult to say.
The number one ski resort in North America, according to one poll. One of the most desirable communities in the country to live in, judging by the number of people moving here. A town with nowhere for the young employees who work in the service industry to live, might be another image. Glitzy and overpriced is some people’s first impression.
Whistler can be all those things and a lot more. Like any town, the environment or setting helps shape its personality, but its people are what truly define it. Those people include many who have lived here through the Resort Municipality of Whistler’s first 20 years and seen the town go through many changes. It also includes the people moving here now, hoping to find jobs and a place to live for the winter.
The fall always brings new marketing campaigns and efforts to present Whistler as the ideal place to visit. To judge by the brochures you would think it’s sunny almost 365 days a year here, the only off days being when light, dry snow falls to add a new layer on top of the abundance of snow we always have.
This idyllic setting, of course, attracts movie stars and celebrities who happen to be photographed or videotaped enjoying their time in Whistler. Such publicity tells the world that this is where the beautiful people like to be, so why wouldn’t everyone else want to come here, too?
All of that is part of the game. People expect a little hyperbole in marketing. Blue skies and powder may be in every photo of every ski area brochure ever printed, but they are more attractive than grey skies and boilerplate. And from a Whistler perspective, letting the world know about every celebrity who shows up or is enticed to Whistler may seem silly, but from a marketing perspective it’s one more chance to capture someone’s attention in a world where competition for impressions is fierce.
But regardless of how the rest of the world sees Whistler — whether people’s impressions are based on sound bites, brochures or an over-sized marmot mascot — Whistler is the people who live here. There are more of us than ever. That requires a greater effort by everyone to continue to make Whistler what it is and to make it better than it currently is in some areas.