Alta states: Making it work 

Bob Styan’s life after ski racing

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Talk about serendipity. "Vancouver was just at the start of the real estate pre-sale boom," explains Styan. "And we were killing it."

Meanwhile, Dupuis (with colleagues Sid Landolt and Hunter Millborne) had created a new sales and marketing agency - Millborne Real Estate. That's when things got really interesting. "Village North was just being built at Whistler," says Styan. "And somehow our company drew the attention of Trilogy and John Evans. 'Can you come up to Whistler and help us pre-sell some of the new units at Marketplace?' they asked us." He laughs. "We ended up selling 60 per cent of the suites in one weekend! By the time the project was completed it was completely sold out - a first for Whistler!"

Intrawest was also paying attention. "I think it was Gary Raymond who approached us: 'Given your success with Marketplace, do you think you could help us out with some of our other real estate projects?'" Another long chuckle. "And that's how I ended up working with Intrawest at Mammoth Mountain in California starting in 1998..."

For their US work, Landolt and Dupuis had created another company - Sapera. ("Get it?" asks Bob, "Sid and Pete's Excellent Real Estate Adventure.") But Intrawest was so impressed with Sapera's results that they eventually decided to buy the company. "For years, Intrawest had tried to develop their own sales and marketing culture," explains Bob. "But they found it very difficult. Much easier to buy an already established company."

Thus Sapera became Playground in 2000-01. "At first," says Styan, "Playground was exclusively a sales and marketing company for Intrawest. But eventually we started attracting third-party developers."

By now, Styan was working across North America on various Playground projects - from Mammoth in California to Solitude in Utah, from Snowmass in Colorado to Stratton Mountain in Vermont. "I learned so much during those years." He pauses. "For example, I was at Stratton shortly after the attack of September 11 th . It was a really scary time. We thought nobody would be buying. But it was the opposite! New Yorkers were desperate to get out of the city. We sold way more high-end homes than we ever expected to..."

For Styan, there's no secret to success. "It all comes down to a few basic things," he says. "First of all, you need good coaches - people you can trust. Then you need to be willing to learn. Willing to ask questions rather than answer them all the time. After that, it's simply a matter of treating people the way you'd want to be treated. Oh - and don't be afraid to admit your mistakes. Don't worry. You're not perfect. It's all part of the journey." He stops. Takes a long breath.

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