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Few corporate buyouts for 2010 commercial space

No deals yet through Chamber of Commerce matching program
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When they're not hurtling down the sliding track, the German bobsled team will be unwinding at Nicklaus North Golf Course in February 2010.

The marketing arm of the team, which is a powerhouse on the international bobsled circuit, has rented out the clubhouse for a month over the Olympic period.

It will be a place where the athletes can relax, eat German home-style cooking prepared by their own chefs, mingle with sponsors and prepare to speak to their national media away from the frenzy of the Olympic venues.

Those interviews, beamed from Whistler back to Germany, are slated to take place on the clubhouse deck, with Green Lake and Wedge Mountain as a backdrop.

"We've had a deal secured for a while now," said Nicklaus North's general manager Mike Zuccolin.

It appears to be one of the few Olympic buyouts in writing, so far.

While negotiations are still underway with other businesses in town, it would seem the expected windfall of Olympic rentals has not yet materialized the way some restaurateurs and business owners had imagined.

Two years ago Richard Baker, a managing partner at Hy's Steakhouse, was entertaining the idea of being a corporate venue for three weeks during the Games with a complete buyout of the space. But times have changed since then.

Not only has the world economic recession played a significant role in how corporations are spending their money, Baker said that moving the medal presentations to the venues in December also had "a huge effect." The medals ceremonies came back to Celebration Plaza in the village just weeks ago.

"There's some renewed interest," said Baker. "Cautious interest though.

"The amount of corporate partying and celebration up here... we're not sure what's going to happen."

He said smaller corporate groups are still looking at his prime village space but Hy's intends to start taking individual reservations for the Games' period as of June 1.

"There's going to be no problem getting a meal in this town," said Baker. "I can guarantee it."

That trend is a worry for Fred Jardot, general manager of Bavaria.

Like Baker, Jardot said interest in renting his space has waned. Whereas there were several inquiries from corporations last summer - some even toured the space - there has been no interest recently.

On top of that, his regular clientele - the majority of his winter business is repeat customers who have been coming to Bavaria for several years - are not interested in being in Whistler during the Games.

"People are scared of the prices, the road, the transportation," said Jardot. "It doesn't look great."

Araxi will also be open for individual business but owner Jack Evrensal confirmed his company is working with more than 40 Olympic sponsors. They will be dining at Araxi, and Evrensal's three Vancouver restaurants, in small corporate groups. That means a quarter to a third of the restaurants will be open for regular business.

"We decided not to sell the restaurant to one sponsor as a buy-out," said Evrensal.

"The restaurant will be open for regular guests as well... How could we shut them out during an important date?"

Other businesses in Whistler said negotiations are still ongoing and would not comment on the specifics until a deal is signed.

The sluggish deal market is not for a lack of interest from local businesses. More than 90 businesses throughout the corridor have signed up for the chamber's Commercial Space Matching Program, linking parties looking to rent during the Games with those who have available space. It is a "dating service" of sorts, with the details of the "date" left to the individual parties.

"I haven't heard of any deals that have been struck," said Chamber President Fiona Famulak.

She expects there to be heightened activity in the program, however, in the next five to six months as corporations lock down their budgets for 2010. The global economic climate has forced many corporations to review their spending capabilities, Famulak said, and that has taken time.

"They're having to work more slowly than we first anticipated," she said.

Other factors playing a role include the perception that Whistler is more expensive than the Vancouver market and the fact that corporations are not looking for month-long buyouts, rather certain times and dates during the Olympic period.

Famulak urged businesses to continue to network and promote their space, attend workshops and learn as much as possible about reaping the benefits of hosting the Games.

"Don't give up," she said. "There's still nine months to go."

When they're not hurtling down the sliding track, the German bobsled team will be unwinding at Nicklaus North Golf Course in February 2010.

The marketing arm of the team, which is a powerhouse on the international bobsled circuit, has rented out the clubhouse for a month over the Olympic period.

It will be a place where the athletes can relax, eat German home-style cooking prepared by their own chefs, mingle with sponsors and prepare to speak to their national media away from the frenzy of the Olympic venues.

Those interviews, beamed from Whistler back to Germany, are slated to take place on the clubhouse deck, with Green Lake and Wedge Mountain as a backdrop.

"We've had a deal secured for a while now," said Nicklaus North's general manager Mike Zuccolin.

It appears to be one of the few Olympic buyouts in writing, so far.

While negotiations are still underway with other businesses in town, it would seem the expected windfall of Olympic rentals has not yet materialized the way some restaurateurs and business owners had imagined.

Two years ago Richard Baker, a managing partner at Hy's Steakhouse, was entertaining the idea of being a corporate venue for three weeks during the Games with a complete buyout of the space. But times have changed since then.

Not only has the world economic recession played a significant role in how corporations are spending their money, Baker said that moving the medal presentations to the venues in December also had "a huge effect." The medals ceremonies came back to Celebration Plaza in the village just weeks ago.

"There's some renewed interest," said Baker. "Cautious interest though.

"The amount of corporate partying and celebration up here... we're not sure what's going to happen."

He said smaller corporate groups are still looking at his prime village space but Hy's intends to start taking individual reservations for the Games' period as of June 1.

"There's going to be no problem getting a meal in this town," said Baker. "I can guarantee it."

That trend is a worry for Fred Jardot, general manager of Bavaria.

Like Baker, Jardot said interest in renting his space has waned. Whereas there were several inquiries from corporations last summer - some even toured the space - there has been no interest recently.

On top of that, his regular clientele - the majority of his winter business is repeat customers who have been coming to Bavaria for several years - are not interested in being in Whistler during the Games.

"People are scared of the prices, the road, the transportation," said Jardot. "It doesn't look great."

Araxi will also be open for individual business but owner Jack Evrensal confirmed his company is working with more than 40 Olympic sponsors. They will be dining at Araxi, and Evrensal's three Vancouver restaurants, in small corporate groups. That means a quarter to a third of the restaurants will be open for regular business.

"We decided not to sell the restaurant to one sponsor as a buy-out," said Evrensal.

"The restaurant will be open for regular guests as well... How could we shut them out during an important date?"

Other businesses in Whistler said negotiations are still ongoing and would not comment on the specifics until a deal is signed.

The sluggish deal market is not for a lack of interest from local businesses. More than 90 businesses throughout the corridor have signed up for the chamber's Commercial Space Matching Program, linking parties looking to rent during the Games with those who have available space. It is a "dating service" of sorts, with the details of the "date" left to the individual parties.

"I haven't heard of any deals that have been struck," said Chamber President Fiona Famulak.

She expects there to be heightened activity in the program, however, in the next five to six months as corporations lock down their budgets for 2010. The global economic climate has forced many corporations to review their spending capabilities, Famulak said, and that has taken time.

"They're having to work more slowly than we first anticipated," she said.

Other factors playing a role include the perception that Whistler is more expensive than the Vancouver market and the fact that corporations are not looking for month-long buyouts, rather certain times and dates during the Olympic period.

Famulak urged businesses to continue to network and promote their space, attend workshops and learn as much as possible about reaping the benefits of hosting the Games.

"Don't give up," she said. "There's still nine months to go."

Austrians break ground

The German bobsledders at Nicklaus North aren't the only athletes with a "home-base" away from the athletes' village.

The purpose-built Austria House, a passive house showcasing green building technology, will be a gathering spot for Austrian athletes and other nationals.

The groundbreaking for the house was last week. It will be located at the main entrance to Lost Lake Park and will remain in Whistler as a legacy following the Games.

The passive house will be the headquarters of the Austrian Olympic Committee and the Austrian public broadcaster.

The German bobsledders at Nicklaus North aren't the only athletes with a "home-base" away from the athletes' village.

The purpose-built Austria House, a passive house showcasing green building technology, will be a gathering spot for Austrian athletes and other nationals.

The groundbreaking for the house was last week. It will be located at the main entrance to Lost Lake Park and will remain in Whistler as a legacy following the Games.

The passive house will be the headquarters of the Austrian Olympic Committee and the Austrian public broadcaster.




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