House of Switzerland 2010 to make home in Whistler Village 

Vancouver to host a House of Switzerland on Granville Island

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The Germans will be at Nicklaus North, the Austrians at Lost Lake and now the Swiss will be in the heart of village during the 2010 Olympics.

The House of Switzerland Canada 2010 will be taking over The Mountain Club spot in its prime location on the Village Stroll.

"I think it's pretty exciting," said Derek Pink, co-owner of The Mountain Club.

"This was a wonderful opportunity to join with the House of Switzerland for what will be a memorable Olympic experience."

Vancouver will also get a taste of all things Swiss at the House of Switzerland in the city. It will be located at Bridges Restaurant on Granville Island. Pink is not affiliated with that restaurant.

The national houses won't be gathered in one "Neighbourhood of Nations" as originally proposed by the municipality. That program was scrapped when Whistler could not get commitment from countries.

And while restaurants are starting to take reservations for the Games period, the complete buyouts that were once expected have failed to materialize.

"There's going to be a few buy-outs but nowhere near as many as we thought," said Ben Thomas of VIP Mountain Holidays, who has been working with several National Olympic Committees looking for room and space in Whistler.

"It's certainly not overwhelming."

Given the global economic recession, the chance to host the Swiss during the Games is a bright spot on the horizon for Pink.

"(This is) something to look forward to," he said.

"This year has been challenging."

This is the third year The Mountain Club has been in business in Whistler.

In February 2010 The Mountain Club will be a place where residents and visitors can expect to get an authentic taste of Swiss cuisine as chefs from Switzerland will be flown over for the duration of the Games.

It will be a gathering place for the Swiss Olympic Team and also used by the Swiss Olympic Association and its partners for receptions, media conferences and medal celebrations.

There were two Houses of Switzerland for the 2006 Torino Games in Italy. One was located in the city itself and the other was in Sestriere, site of the alpine skiing events and nearby cross-country skiing.

Switzerland has had its greatest Olympic success in alpine skiing and bobsleigh so it is little wonder that the country has chosen to have a definite presence in Whistler, host of both the sliding and alpine skiing events during the Games.

The Mountain Club has 125 indoor licensed seats and 125 outdoor licensed on the patio.

Pink is planning on applying for a permit to set up temporary tenting around the patio so the Swiss media can broadcast from that location.

It will be open as Switzerland House from Feb. 5 to Feb. 28.

"It's open to the public as an opportunity to experience Swiss food and hospitality," said Pink.

He added that he has had a great experience working with the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Presence Switzerland as well as the Consulate General of Switzerland in Vancouver.

The House of Switzerland is the latest country to confirm its official presence in the Resort Municipality of Whistler during the Games. Austria is building the Austria Passive House at the entrance to Lost Lake and the German sliding teams will be setting up their house at the Nicklaus North Golf Club. The main German House will be in downtown Vancouver.

More recently, the Pan Pacific announced Pride House - a place for gay and lesbian athletes, fans, and friends to gather in Whistler in 2010.

There are plans in the works for a Canada Olympic House in Whistler too. The Vancouver Canada Olympic House will be on the sixth floor of the Hudson's Bay Company's flagship store in downtown Vancouver. It has not yet been confirmed where the Canada House in Whistler will be located.

The French National Olympic Committee is also looking to have a presence in Whistler during the Games and its program could be similar to the Swiss program.

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