RE: Reservations needs to do better (Pique letters June 9)
In a recent letter to the editor, Judith May outlined concerns she had with the reservations service she received through Tourism Whistler.
Ms. May raised a number of excellent points. We have contacted her to apologize for the unfortunate experience she had, and to thank her for offering her suggestions for improvement.
Tourism Whistler is working with Resort Reservations Network Inc., its outsourced reservations call centre, to address the concerns raised by Ms. May and to ensure the highest standards of customer service are maintained for all visitors who choose to use this service.
Ms. May had suggested Tourism Whistler has a monopoly on tourist reservations; however, this raises an important point of clarification. While Tourism Whistler does provide a central reservations service representing its members, it does not have a monopoly on all tourist reservations. In fact, visitors may book accommodations through a wide variety of channels, including local, regional, national and international reservations providers (e.g. Whistler.com, Whistler Blackcomb, Allura Direct, HelloBC, Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz and Destina, to name a few). This list does not include the leisure reservations made through tour operators, travel agents and hotels direct.
As pointed out in Ms. May's letter, there are challenges presented by the lack of front desk services offered by some Whistler accommodations, due to the large number of condominium-style properties.
To help address this, a number of resort-wide initiatives have been launched to ensure visitors are well informed about the services offered at their chosen accommodation. Tourism Whistler developed a Whistler-specific rating system the "Whistler Peaks Rating System" to provide visitors with standardized comparisons of accommodations based on the extent and quality of facilities, amenities and services offered to the guest. One of the services listed is whether or not a front desk is located on site.
Other initiatives being investigated through the Whistler Welcome Strategy include a centralized check-in desk, key pick-up service with extended hours of service, and property management representation of off-site single property owners.
We would like to thank Ms. May for sharing her concerns and comments with us. Through positive dialogue with visitors and community members, Whistler can continue to learn and improve in an effort to set the standard as the world's year-round mountain resort of choice.
President, Tourism Whistler
The myth of city pricing
I have avoided publicly wading into the London Drugs discussion as I feel there is a perceived conflict.
I am one of the business owners who will definitely be affected by the "village" location proposed by London Drugs. I own and operate a business known as Whistler One Hour Photo, which was started 20 years ago in the original Nancy Greenes Lodge. We now operate in two locations under the name of Whistler Foto Source and this change in identity is because we joined a national buying group. We joined a buying group of independent photography stores to become price competitive and knowledgeable in order to offer our customers "city pricing" in a small town, high service environment.
The recent spat of unsubstantiated and unfair letters to the newspapers has annoyed me to the point where I can no longer sit silently. Blanket statements implying that stores in Whistler are run by uncaring opportunistic carpetbaggers is a gross generalization and is insulting to the many shop owners who have worked hard to keep prices affordable despite the expense and seasonal nature of operating in a resort environment. There is no doubt that in our society some people will always take advantage BUT NOT EVERYONE! We compare our pricing of hard goods everyday via the internet using London Drugs, Future Shop and Henrys camerass in Toronto as benchmarks and we regularly adjust our prices accordingly.
I am not a stupid person and I realize Vancouver is not an unreasonable journey for the average resident. I want to survive and I have to be competitive. We match large retail chains dollar for dollar on most of our products. I suspect large retail operations have improved buying power and they may even get better pricing than I am able to offer. I say we match prices on most products because it is true some of our products do cost more.
I have nothing but praise for the well run and respected operation that London Drugs has become, but changing the zoning rules to allow a 17,000 square foot store is going to cause our village to change dramatically. The landlord of the proposed London Drugs location has an obligation to provide a well-needed recreational benefit and this leisure space was the reason they were initially allowed to build the space.
There seems to be a common theme in some of the letters that our locally run pharmacies could do a better job, well we could all do a better job if we all looked honestly at ourselves. Having a store like London Drugs has the potential to kill quite a few of the unique long-term businesses beyond simply the pharmacies.
There have been a number of letters which encourage the support of London Drugs as the company will "keep the profits in Whistler." We ( Whistler Foto Source ) feel that we have been keeping the profits in Whistler for 20 years through contributing to the scholarship fund at the local high school, Aware, the Chamber of Commerce, and other various donations too numerous to mention.
I ask for some support from the people who have been our customers and whose children have become benefactors through our business to please consider the bigger picture.
Re: Ken Davey's letter to the Editor
I guess you weren't at the London Drugs BBQ a few weeks ago. They did a poll, and much of the support came from locals that have lived here over ten years.
You also stated that those who support London Drugs are only here for the short term and don't care about London Drugs impact on local businesses. The short-term transient people who don't care about the impact won't care enough to lobby for a business that will probably not open until after they have left.
I, too, was concerned about having another larger business in Whistler. I went to the BBQ and viewed London Drugs's plans for Whistler. The plans for the store are to have it integrated into the Whistler theme stained concrete floors, wood work; things you would not see in your typical "big box".
I believe that London Drugs is sincere in keeping their promise on Vancouver pricing. This will not only benefit the people living here, but the guests to the resort as well. I have worked front desk, and have heard many comments on how expensive every day things are in Whistler. Having a Canadian-owned company with those every day things at reasonable prices will better their experience.
I believe that London Drugs will not significantly impact local businesses. The only businesses in the Whistler Village that might feel impact are large big box conglomerates that don't fit in the boutique theme. (Pharmasave, for example.)
To buy CDs or DVDs, I have to go down to the city. To buy kitchen supplies (not exotic items shelved at Whistler Kitchen Works), to buy computer gadgets, and other practicalities, again, I go down to the city.
Having a London Drugs here will greatly reduce my Vancouver trips. With my weekends free from city traffic, I'll more likely be drinking a tea at a cafe, getting my bike tuned up, and spending more money here than I would generally give to a Vancouver store.
Have patience London Drugs
With the situation of London Drugs coming to Whistler looking more and more like a clique ganging up on the new kid at school, I just want to say don't worry, you'll still be popular. I am not going to suddenly switch my shopping loyalties. The only stores that will feel the pinch are the ones in West Vancouver. With London Drugs in Whistler offering affordable products, I will no longer have to drive to the city for products I buy there anyways. What will I be doing with the money I saved on gas? Spend it locally, of course.
Get over yourselves
"Gigantic rear end stuffed into sweatpants waddled around in running shoes. One well-meaning woman had topped off a carefully chosen outfit with a horrid fe-mullet dyed a gruesome peroxide orange." Shelley Arnusch wrote these words in her Pique column of June 2.
Wow, this sounds like something the leader of a mean girl clique would utter in a Hollywood movie. As a new person in town, I held back on responding hoping that some more-established member of the community would take issue with Ms. Arnusch's mean-hearted description. Was I ever surprised to find that the only response in the following week's paper supported her values.
Dr. Tom DeMarco wrote, "As trivial as it may be, beauty is why I'm here and why I'll never practice medicine anywhere else. Why tinker with rusty beat up trucks when one can fine-tune Ferraris?"
I was shocked! Naïve me; I actually expected more from a doctor.
Of course, it is noticeable that there are some wonderfully fit and athletic people here in Whistler, and hooray for fitness and health! I encourage it! But let's not confuse health with fashion and glamour.
Our aesthetic sensibilities do not give us licence to be dismissive or cruel toward those lacking in superficial beauty. I write this letter to assert that compassion and kindness are qualities far more valuable to the Whistler community than physical beauty. If we as a community value kindness then we cannot silently tolerate written or spoken cruelty. Women with "gigantic rear ends" and bad fashion sense (and no money to spend on beauty treatments) should not be targets for smug members of the "beauty" clique.
The Pemberton Valley Trails Associations recent spring membership drive at the Pemberton Valley Grocery Store drew much support from the community and will prove very positive for local trail initiatives.
The PVTA is very appreciative of the support received from Mark Blundell at the Grocery Store. Many thanks as well to Serge Cote of Glacier Creek Developments for their generous contribution.
The Valley Trail Loop and other non-motorized transportation corridors such as that along Highway 99 are becoming a reality. Volunteers, local businesses and private landowners are working together to achieve this community amenity.
Yes, there are many other projects on the go as well and yes, youll be seeing more signage along routes. Check out www.pembertonvalleytrails.ca for more information.
Jan Naylor, PVTA
Stroll is for strolling
My wife and I just spent a week in Whistler (June 5-12). It was our first visit, and we thoroughly enjoyed it, even though the weather was less than ideal. We stayed at Twin Peaks, and after parking our car in the garage on arrival, we did not go near it again until we were packed and ready to head home.
We enjoyed reading Pique, found it informative and helpful in finding places to eat, etc. And I liked the crossword puzzle!
The one observation or question that we had was in regard to the signs posted along the Village Stroll prohibiting the use of bicycles and skateboards. In spite of the threat of a $2000 fine, every day that we walked through the Village, we saw bikers and skateboarders threading their way among the pedestrians. On more than one occasion we either stopped or changed direction to get out of their way. Is this law only enforced at certain times of the year?
Looking forward to our next visit... Ken & Carol Lottis
Mercer Island WA
Pemberton daycare disaster
I live in Pemberton and have my children in the local daycare, Pemberton Meadows.
There has been a lot of talk about a new centre being built in Pemberton. Recently the village has found land that they will lease to someone to build and run a daycare in Pemberton.
The daycare that we use is the only licensed option in Pemberton. It is run by Sea to Sky Community Services. We also have a parent board that fundraises for the centre.
The disaster is that the parent board decided that it wanted to cut from the society and go it alone.
So both Sea to Sky Community Services and the parent board put in letters to run the new centre. This by itself is crazy. The parent board (really only a small handful of parents, some who do not have children in the centre) has decided to cut ties with a safe and consistent society and go out on their own.
I do not want to deal with a group of parents, who do not do daycare for a business, trying to take over. I want educated professional daycare people.
Yet this village did not even ask for proposals from the groups. They simply said hey, we like this/these parents, so lets let them have the centre.
Wouldn't we have a better chance for a good reliable centre with a financially secure society that has the professional staff that can manage a large child care centre? How can we expect a small group of parents to run a daycare centre. What happens if they just decide to stop?
It is crazy that our village is putting our daycare into jeopardy. I hope that they will come to our aid when the fundraising is low.
Of course from what I have heard the centre has been in severe difficulties before (1999-2000) and it was not the village who saved us but Sea to Sky Community Services!
We parents who use the centre do not appreciate the village and parents who do not use the centre taking away our secure daycare situation.
ICBC & Me
In the late summer of 2004 I was in a car accident by Nesters Market that nearly took my life. It was the first time in my 27 years on earth that I was dependent on a system only familiar to me from television. I was investigated by firemen, swept away by ambulance and cared for at our local emergency.
I would like to quickly draw attention to that dreadful intersection going into Nesters Market. There have been many accidents over the years here and the power is already there for a proper stoplight intersection. Right now there are lights on the highway and just a stop sign for the people crossing the highway (where my fellow crasher did not stop, look and listen). If I had died perhaps a light would be put in both ways.
I will be forwarding this letter to the appropriate government roads officials, which will hopefully help.
My opinion on our roads is not the reason I write to you today. I am writing in regards to my Claims Officer Duncan McPhie. It was a difficult task organizing myself while I was in so much pain (with a fractured sternum) to get to Function Junction to meet him. Of course I thought it would be an even harder fight to get the assistance I needed. I really had no idea what ICBC did and my impressions from the general public was "rip you off". This was in fact a lie.
Duncan McPhie did everything in his ability to make me as comfortable as possible. He let me know what I should be expecting with my injury and from ICBC as an insurance company. He recommended (I go to) physiotherapists, doctors and massage therapists. He was genuinely concerned about my well being and I remember leaving the office in tears feeling that there was finally a light at the end of this tunnel of pain.
In the next year Duncan verified that he did care. He came by my work to drop off claim checks on his lunch hour; he advanced my cheque during Christmas time; he even advised me of a personal trainer when I came to the point of thinking that I would have to suffer with these discomforts for the rest of my life.
To summarize, Duncan McPhie was an angel. I will enjoy paying my insurance to ICBC for the rest of my life knowing that if anything were to happen to me I would be cared for in the manner I was.
Thank you to everyone that had a part in bringing me to where I am today (Aaron Gibson for brushing my hair, my family, Craig Baker from Meadow Park, Peak Performance, Cody at Blue Highway and all the emergency crew who work everyday saving lives).
Its amazing how perfect our bodies are until we hurt ourselves and I will always have the scars of this accident inside me. It was however, the most exciting day of my life so far and I urge ICBC to take Duncan McPhie and use him as an example.
Joanne Van Engelsdorp