Christmas snow entices visitors 

Last minute bookings bump business up; Brownlie predicts strong ‘very strong’ demand after Olympics

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Let it snow. Let it snow. Let it snow.

That was the anthem Whistler business owners seemed to be singing this week as they went through their receipts and counted up the dollars made over the Christmas season.

While business in the resort municipality didn't break records, revenue was generally up from last year's slow Christmas holidays.

Businesses of all types - restaurants, hotels and mountain operator Whistler Blackcomb - reported high levels of activity, with most companies coming in at least 10 per cent higher than last year's holiday period, when the economic recession was in full swing and the snow base was low.

As to what lured visitors to Whistler this Christmas despite the fact the 2010 Winter Olympic Games are just six weeks away? Almost everyone had the same answer: snow.

"I don't care what anyone says, it all comes down to snow, snow, and snow," said Wayne Katz, owner of Zog's, Moguls and Gone Bakery.

"It (business) was unexpected. I thought it would be less. I had budgeted for us to do less for the month of December in all locations, so it was surprising and exciting because we had snow."

Business volumes at Zog's and Moguls were on par with last year, and Gone Bakery saw one of its best business levels ever, said Katz.

Over in the Upper Village, the owner of Quinny's Café said his business this year was double what it was last year, when the café first opened.

"It was awesome. It crushed last year," said Chris Quinlan. "It was great to see snow back on the hill and people were so happy to be here. I think there was a pent up demand for holiday time from people."

Executives with Whistler Blackcomb also attributed their 8.5 per cent increase in business over last year to snow and weather.

Dave Brownlie, Whistler Blackcomb's president and chief operating officer, called the snow conditions "phenomenal" and went on to say that the experience people had skiing and snowboarding over the Christmas period was probably one of the best in the world.

"I don't recall having so many positive comments from guests when I was up there on the hill about our staff, our grooming and our food," said Brownlie, who said he always makes sure to talk to guests on the mountains to find out what their experiences have been.

"As a resort, we didn't hit the peaks like we did in the past - which maybe was not as positive in some respects in terms of volumes of people - but the experience people had in Whistler was probably second to none in the world."

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