Another 2010 Olympic deal sealed 

France buys out 21 Steps, Edgewater booked for six months, Cultural Centre gets Panasonic

France is joining Austria, Switzerland, Norway and others with an official presence in Whistler during the 2010 Olympics.

The French Olympic Committee, Le Comite national olympique et sportif francaise, has bought out 21 Steps for the Olympic period.

The restaurant will be Club de France exclusively from Feb. 11 to 28.

"21 Steps has been confirmed as the venue for Club de France during the Games," said Ben Thomas, who brokered the deal through his company, VIP Mountain Holidays.

"The venue is not open to the public and is being used by Le Comite national olympique et sportif francaise as a venue to host their guests throughout the Games period."

Club de France joins a list of countries or teams to have dedicated space in Whistler during the Games.

While it's not the official "Neighbourhood of Nations" the municipality had originally imagined - a cluster of new buildings designed specifically for individual countries - Whistler will have a decidedly international flare in February 2010. Some venues, like Switzerland House, will be open to the public. Others, like France, will be for private use.

Here's who's confirmed:

• Austria House - the new passive house being built at the entrance to Lost Lake Park;

• Switzerland House - at The Mountain Club restaurant on Village Stroll;

• Norway House - renting out a portion of MY Millennium Place;

• Jamaica Bobsleigh House - team members of the infamous Jamaican bobsleigh team will be at the Savage Beagle;

• PRIDE House - a room in the Pan Pacific Hotel will be the first ever gay and lesbian house during the Games;

• German bobsleigh team - the main German House will be in downtown Vancouver but the bobsleigh team has rented Nicklaus North Golf Club;

The Edgewater Restaurant and Lodge, five minutes north of the village on the shores of Green Lake, has also been bought out for six months. The restaurant will be closed to the public from Sept. 27 until the end of April 2010.

It is not clear who is renting the space.

The Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre has also rented out its upper level to Olympic sponsor Panasonic for the duration of the Games. It's a private house. The Great Hall, however, will be open to the general public during the day.

"Our mandate is to keep the centre open for people to see it as it was meant to be," said Gwen Baudisch, marketing and events coordinator.

One of the centre's big sponsors, Bell, will be renting the Great Hall for a few evenings. Baudisch said the Great Hall and the lower level Istken, or traditional pit house, are still available for rental, the former for evenings, the later for lunches as well.

The municipality is also in ongoing discussions with the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) and other partners for use of the Whistler Public Library.

The COC has a main Canada House in Vancouver and is looking for a satellite house in Whistler. The library could also be used for the resort municipality's hosting responsibilities.

Thomas at VIP Holidays does not expect to see any more countries doing exclusive-use buyouts in Whistler.

"Various restaurants are now starting to take dinner reservations as normal and I really think business is going to be a lot more usual than most had expected," said Thomas.

"I think we'll see more demand for medium sized groups wanting dinners for 20 to 40 or so people every fourth night for example, but I don't see any more major restaurant buyouts taking place."

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