November 19, 2004 Features & Images » Feature Story

After the gold rush: 10 years of peaks and valleys 

Can Whistler regain its status through providing better value and service?

"We have to provide service and hustle to ensure that when people leave Whistler they are happy. And this is a commitment that the whole community has to make – whether in the grocery store, the restaurant or the shop."

— Mario Enero, owner of LaRúa Resturante

"It doesn’t matter what you spend and how much money you have, you still want good value for your money. It doesn’t matter if you’re spending a $1,000 for wine or $30 for wine – you want good value."

— Jack Evrensel, proprietor of Araxi’s Restaurant




In 1994, when Pique Newsmagazine debuted, Whistler was in a definite upswing, experiencing rapid growth and what appeared to be limitless prosperity. The resort’s top restaurants and attractions were receiving reservations for dates months ahead, from literally around the world. Business was booming.

A few years after Snow Country Magazine first named Whistler North America’s Number One Ski Resort – it became an annual accolade from 1991 through 1997 – the resort’s reputation began to extend beyond continental borders and Whistler truly become a world-class resort destination. The result was the tourism equivalent of the gold rush. Whistler was the place to be and everyone wanted to be here.

Pique Newsmagazine’s first feature, titled "Great Expectations", examined the resort’s developing business community, tourist demographics and future potential as a vacation destination. On this the newsmagazine’s 10 th anniversary we decided it would be interesting to revisit the initial story penned by Steven Threndyle.

Citing new accommodation developments, both hotels and condos, as well as a diverse visitor base that hailed from Europe, Mexico, Great Britain, South America and Japan Threndyle’s premiere feature was the quintessential good news story. Hotel marketing and sales directors, restaurateurs and small business owners all said that the early-season indicators showed promise of another record-breaking year in the resort. And a lot of this success was attributed to how snow sports publications had positioned the resort.

Walt Daman, a San Francisco tour operator, has been sending California skiers to Whistler since 1969. "Whistler has been a hot destination, especially since skiers started voting it number one in the magazines," stated Daman. And if the often-damp weather tourists encountered could dampen the enthusiasm for skiing, the burgeoning village seemed to make up for it.

"(T)he people really like that village and the good restaurants, and that covers a multitude of sins."

In 1994 even bad snow days weren’t enough to damage the resort’s reputation. So how, and more importantly why, have things changed over the past decade?

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