‘Professional partiers’ now leading club crawls 

Tourist towns in Europe, Australia have been doing it for years

Ask anyone: Whistler's reputation as a party hotspot is almost as renowned as the town's status as the ultimate place to ski and snowboard in North America. We boast an array of pubs, bars and clubs that regularly showcase live musicians and DJs, and hey, let's face it - this town is chock-full of young people who are here for a good time, not a long time.

Now, a relative newcomer is hoping to build a successful business from Whistler's party cred, coordinating an entire afternoon and evening of partying through tours, which go from bar to bar and then onto clubs.

Nick Field is the owner and operator of Whistler Club Crawls, which started running tours just a few weeks ago.

Originally from Toronto, Field is no stranger to the party scene. He worked for MuchMusic before traveling abroad for a while, and he actually worked for a similar party tour company in Surfer's Paradise, on Australia's Gold Coast.

When he returned from his travels last April, Field realized he wanted to make a "strategic life move" and settle down in a ski resort, where he could keep snowboarding and skiing. So in October, he packed up his car with all of his belongings and hit the road to Whistler.

"It's Canadian, it's the biggest, it's the best," he said with a shrug and a grin.

He spent his first season working as an instructor for Whistler Blackcomb.

"There came a point where I wasn't really feeling the lifestyle - locals really struggle here, really, really struggle," he said.

He soon realized the party tour model could be applied here.

"Whistler's nightlife is as famous as the mountains," he said. "...Club crawls exist all over the world - a lot in Europe, a lot in Australia. Any big tourist town that can sustain it pretty much has one."

And here in Whistler, the model is even more ideal because transportation isn't an issue; every bar is within walking distance.

He saw an opening in the market and went for it, launching Whistler Club Crawls after months of research, examining stats and demographics to see if the model could work here. Though the tours only run on Saturday nights, he eventually hopes to expand from just running the tours on Saturdays, and include Wednesdays, then eventually Fridays.

A $50 ticket scores you entry to five bars (and you can skip the lineups), two helpings of pizza, plus a few other giveaways, all under the watchful eyes of trained guides - "professional partiers."

The venues vary, but usually the tour starts at the GLC at 5:30 p.m., where you get a wristband, pizza and giveaway, then the group moves onto the Longhorn Saloon or Tapley's before making its way to the first nightclub: Buffalo Bill's.

"That's where the dynamic of everything changes, because it's a club," Field said.

On their way over to the Savage Beagle, the group stops in Village Square to play a few games and have some good, clean fun.

Finally, they get a second helping of pizza before ending the night at Garfinkel's.

Field won't explain how he makes money, whether it's solely from the ticket sales, or if the bars pay him to bring the tours to their establishments.

The tour is definitely geared towards tourists, but Field said locals have been enjoying the experience, as well.

"The bottom line is it's an awesome time, regardless. It doesn't matter if you're a tourist or a local."

Aside from the fun, Fields stresses that keeping things safe is the most important thing.

"I'm doing everything that I can to make sure that everybody is responsible and everybody is safe."

He's also quick to point out that they are a professional tour business, and have received the proper approvals and business licenses.

"We may be in the party industry, but this is a business, this is professional," he said.

".... It's not to just run a rowdy party in Whistler, it's to make Whistler a better experience for everybody."

So far, Field's business has been met with a warm reception from venues and partiers alike. He's already getting calls from people looking to celebrate stags, stagettes and birthday parties.

"Last week, we had a group of about five ladies in their 40s," he said with a laugh. "They loved it, they were having a great time!"

As of last Friday, the Club Crawls crew had already run three successful tours, with an average of 60 people per tour, and they were getting ready for their fourth the next night.

"We're in the infancy right now, but it's my goal to be up there," Field said.


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