By Loreth Beswetherick
Tickets for that one sparkling evening in a thousand years at the Chateau Whistler will set mom and pop and the teenage twins back more than $2,000.
But, don’t forget junior. A minder from the Nanny Network will require budgeting $125 per hour for a minimum of five hours. So add at least another $625 plus Millennium size tips for the baby sitter.
Either that or you could try and register junior for the Y2K-9 party at the Puppy Zone. Not likely to work though, the canine bash is strictly for Sparky and co. at the relatively competitive rate of $25 a dog until 1 a.m.
With the family’s New Year’s tab already creeping up, there’s still the cab or limo fare back to the $1,000-plus per night condo in Creekside to think about.
But then, how many chances do you get to dance into the dawn of a new Millennium?
There are also a few ways to cut costs.
The resort municipality will once again be offering free New Year’s Eve transit starting at 8 p.m. Whistler Transit’s Scott Pass said free buses are slated to run until 3 a.m. The usual schedule will be adhered to up until 11 p.m.. An hour between 11 p.m. and midnight will be budgeted for refuelling and, from the witching hour, buses will be dispatched as needed.
Pass said from 8 p.m. all buses will run out of the taxi loop instead of the Gondola Transit Exchange. The free transit will set the RMOW back an estimated $2,500 to $3,500 in lost revenue, depending on use. Whistler Transit drivers will be paid their usual rate, as per their collective agreement, with overtime at midnight and for any extra hours worked.
Revellers can also try and hail a cab but Whistler taxis will be busy, warns Eric Larsen. "We are going to do our best," he said. "That’s all we can offer. We know we are not going to be able to keep up with demand. We are going to try and have some extra cars out if we can."
Larsen said the taxi company currently has 34 vehicles out on the rounds. He hopes to have 39 for New Year’s. Cab fares won’t set anyone back more than usual, however. The rates are set by the government.
"We would love to go $100 anywhere in Whistler, but it will be on the meter," said Larsen.
Last year the taxi company started selling books of $5 cab vouchers and is doing the same this year. Larsen said the vouchers are not redeemable for cash but can be put toward the taxi fare. If the fare falls short of $5 denominations, no change will be given. The balance goes towards tips. Larsen said the books of vouchers are proving popular with property managers and other business operators who want to offer tenants or guests rides to and from the village without the risk of clients abusing accounts.
Locals stand a better chance than tourists at getting affordable babysitting, but finding a sitter available for the night will be no mean feat. Rates being offered local teenagers are also premium and likely range from $100 per couple of hours upwards.
The Meadow Parks Sports Centre, however, has one of the best deals going: a New Year’s sleepover for the kids. The rate for ages seven to 12 for the period from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. is a steal at a flat $50. The rate for ages three to seven for the hours of 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. is $35.
Whistler’s Nanny Network, geared more to the tourist, said they had no choice but to boost rates from the usual New Year’s premium of between $24 and $32 per hour to a flat $125 per hour to ensure availability of nannies. No-one could be persuaded to work for less, said the Network’s Nicole Thomas. Now she has a full staff complement of 100 to 110 sitters available.
"Rates on New Year’s Eve are usually double our regular, which starts at $12 an hour for the first two children and then they go up from there," said Thomas. "It’s always a night we pay more otherwise who wants to work for you? And, that is what we were faced with this year. We had several bookings and we were faced with nobody wanting to work. Then we put our rates up substantially to where we knew, not only would they work, but that they would be committed to working. Now we have lots of good people because they are able to earn lots of money."
Nanny Network sitters will go to hotel suites, homes or condos and mind wee ones from a couple of weeks old on up. Thomas said the Network has already got several confirmed bookings, complete with deposits, for New Year’s.
"I am very confident we will get a lot more. Most of our bookings traditionally come in December. People are not booking that far in advance for New Year’s, although you would think they would. We get bookings right up until the last minute."
The Puppy Zone is also open for business New Year’s due to demand. The pet place was already receiving reservations for that special night in the Fall. The Zone is extending hours from 6 p.m. until 1 a.m. for First Night and pooches will be treated to party favours, prizes, a promenade through the village and dog music. In case you’re wondering, dog music means CDs complete with dogs barking and cats screeching. The canine charges are said to sing along.