When the rich and famous want the ultimate winter vacation, they call these guys," goes the tag line of a new Bravo TV reality program showcasing the "coolest place in Canada."
"These guys" ended up being a team of seven assistants hired by Whistler's local entertainment entrepreneur Joey Gibbons of Gibbons Life.
Their job? To give visitors anything they want.
Gibbons was entering the travel concierge business just as Bravo was searching for a new reality TV business.
The result is Après Ski, which premieres in the U.S. on Nov. 2. Bravo advertises the series as an unscripted, eight-episode show in which "the sexy staffers will bump heads and break hearts."
Gibbons, whose company Gibbons Hospitality owns pubs and clubs around Whistler, including The Longhorn Saloon, Garfinkel's, FireRock, Buffalo Bill's and Tapley's, is thrilled by the opportunity.
"They phoned me once they were down to Banff, Whistler and one other (place). When they first called, I didn't know what it was about. Whistler being way cooler and the coolest place in Canada, it was easy to fight for it," he laughs.
"I believe in Whistler and (Bravo) believed in it as well."
His three criteria for taking part were that the community looked good, that no one on his Gibbons team was misrepresented and that the business is looked at properly.
"These guys (Bravo) were truthful to their word," he says.
"I think it's something the community is going to be really, really proud of."
Originally, Bravo wanted to feature Gibbons Hospitality's bars and pubs, but their owner had a different idea.
"I've always been a pretty private person, but at the same time we were starting a travel company and had had a couple of groups come through. It was really interesting," Gibbons says.
"Bravo was thinking about doing it on the bars, but the travel company was doing really cool things with these groups that were coming to town.
"It was an opportunity to really showcase the beauty of our resort as well as have interesting conflicts arise, with people who weren't from here being scared of heights, that kind of thing. Things were always happening and it seemed more interesting than the bar scene."
Gibbons, who grew up in Whistler, says that with the travel concierge side of his business being a start-up, they could hire "the perfect people."
"We basically showcased a start up of a travel company and it was lots of fun," he says.
The new staff is both American and Canadian, two hail from Vancouver and others from as far away as Pittsburgh. They include a classically trained chef, pro-extreme skier, and a self-confessed partier. "I had such a great time working with all of them throughout the season," Gibbons says. "They're honestly incredible people. They were here for the season and I am super hopeful that we will keep working together."Because we know what's fun to do in Whistler, we got to put together the most incredible days you can have in town. We got to showcase how incredible our resort is."
In all, 12 different groups of clients come through during the series, Gibbons says.
"There's a family that comes through, a bunch of girlfriends, couples," he says. "They're the same people who would regularly come through. Some we dealt with after (filming), in the summer as well. No cameras watching.
"(We brought them to all the places) I think of as being authentic, great local experiences... a Sushi Village dinner and the Rim Rock, these community, locally owned businesses that are such staples in the resort."
Gibbons says he watched the first full episode and is very happy with it.
"It's beautiful. The teaser trailer is risqué, yeah... it shows a bum and a hot tub and all the things that sparks someone's attention. But when you look at the first show, Whistler is a character in the show and that character is a beautiful place that everybody wants to go to. They did a wonderful job of showcasing that," he says.
"In the first show alone there were 10 businesses showcased and I don't think any of them were mine."
Already, Gibbons is hopeful that the series' time slot, coming after Bravo's popular Vanderpump Rules, will lead to a good following and a second series. Après Ski is being shown on Bravo Channel in the U.S. (www.bravotv.com). The show is not being shown in Canada yet, but the trailer for the series can be watched at www.gibbonswhistler.com/new-bravo-doc-series-showcases-whistler.
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