Demand for rooms in 2010 heating up 

Lack of details convincing some homeowners to make their properties available

Sylvia Koltzenburg has been fielding scores of calls and e-mails every day since she started advertising a 2010 Olympic accommodation matchmaking service.

“I got 177 e-mails yesterday alone,” she said, en route to visit with another potential Olympic home renter.

But what has caught Koltzenburg’s attention is the concern local home-owners are voicing about the tenants living in their suites and the lack of information many Whistlerites are citing when it comes to how the 2010 Olympic Games are really going to impact their lives.

“There is concern for the people in the suites because the potential renter wants to move into the suite and rent the main house,” she said.

“So we are looking at creative options for the locals, like two months free rent.”

What will happen to service in Whistler during the Games if all the renters are kicked out is a serious concern at the municipal level.

There was also a hunger, said Koltzenburg, to know what was going on. People wanted to know if the village would be declared a venue, could they travel to Whistler easily, could they ski, who are the visitors going to be and what is expected of residents during the Games.

“They feel there was no communication about what was going to happen in the village and therefore nobody cared about them being involved,” she said.

“So they said, ‘we are getting out so we may as well make some money (by renting out our homes).’”

About 70 per cent of the people Koltzenburg is dealing with are second-home owners like herself.

“I was on the first lift here in 1966,” she said, adding that she has had a home in Whistler for many years.

Koltzenburg was approached about renting out her home and was impressed with how it was being handled. She decided to get involved herself and partnered with Maple Management.

The company (whistleraccommodation@shaw.ca) is dealing with one major client but has signed a confidentiality agreement and cannot reveal who they are. Koltzenburg said renters could expect $8,000 to $16,000 per bedroom for a 31-day rental. The variation in price is determined by the level of luxury of the home.

Several other companies in Whistler are also matching homeowners to Olympic clients, including Aloha Whistler Accommodations, Platinum Whistler and VIP Whistler.

According to Tourism Whistler there are about 10,000 beds that are available above and beyond the 5,000 rooms the Vancouver Organizing Committee needs to book for its clients.

It’s expected that the whole resort will sell out over Games time, as rooms are needed for media, security services, foreign government delegations and corporate clients.

The web has also become a popular place to post for accommodations and place ads for homes to rent.

Vancouver based Access Vacation Group is growing in popularity as a portal to find matches for 2010.

“It’s obviously a tremendous opportunity,” said owner Blake MacKenzie, who has been in the vacation rental business for over five years.

For the most part his company is dealing with corporate and Olympic-related clients, but he has also set up a wait list for other clients, who can be helped as inventory is increased.

“The rooms needed are in the thousands,” said MacKenzie.

“Right now we have rooms in the hundreds.”

Mark Szekely, an economist, started Rent 2010 in response to demand in 2006. It’s been quiet but steady he said over the last few months, but with the two-year countdown the hits on the website exploded.

“It’s only been in the last three months that it has really picked up,” he said.

Most of the action is from homeowner ads.

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