editorial 

By now most people in Whistler realize it has been a phenomenal winter, whether you use official numbers... o more than 2 million skier visits o a snowpack of more than 350 cm — in May! o better than 70 per cent occupancy through the winter, despite the fact Whistler has seen a 75 per cent increase in the number of hotel rooms over the last five years ...or whether you use your own numbers: o time you had to get up the mountain in order to get untracked powder o average number of minutes spent in grocery store lineups per week o distance (in kilometres) you stayed away from the Marketplace parking lot on weekends The thing is, everyone else realizes Whistler has had a phenomenal winter, too. At the Whistler Resort Association’s annual general meeting on the weekend Roz Casey, the resort association’s person in charge of market development, told members the WRA was "preparing for competitive responses from Colorado and Europe." Exactly what those competitive responses are (snow, perhaps?) remains to be seen, but they will likely involve money; spending more of it to get their messages out and putting together packages that make visiting Colorado and European resorts less expensive. The pass price war in Colorado, where season passes are going for less than $300, was aimed at state skiers but is such a bargain that destination skiers have been buying them, making those people more likely to vacation in Colorado than Whistler. And now that Whistler has finally driven home the point that it is not Colorado, don’t be surprised if some of the Colorado money is spent on campaigns emphasizing Colorado resorts’ advantages over Whistler (sun, perhaps?). Some more official numbers show why Whistler will be targeted by other resorts next fall: Americans accounted for 44 per cent of Whistler’s destination visitors this past winter; Canadians were only 33 per cent; the U.K. made up 9 per cent. And it’s not only winter. American visitors accounted for 34 per cent of hotel room nights last summer. Canadians still occupied nearly 60 per cent of the hotel room nights sold last summer. Of course, summer visitors are a different species than winter visitors, generally staying for shorter periods, more often arriving in their own vehicle, and spending less. Still, Whistler is becoming a force as a summer resort. Americans may have only accounted for 34 per cent of the hotel room nights sold last summer, but they made up 41 per cent of the golfers at the Whistler Golf Club. But back to winter. The WRA has hired public relations firms to represent the resort in the United Kingdom and Ontario (Vail has had its own office in London for years). The resort association has more money for marketing this year, thanks to the success of the past year, and is going to need to use it if Colorado and European resorts are targeting Whistler. Snow Country/Mountain Sports and Living — the magazine which has named Whistler number one ski resort in North America seven years in a row — may not be publishing any more, but other resorts are apparently setting their sights on number one.

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