Fairmont wants a 25,000 square-foot spa 

A big change could be coming to the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, in the magnitude of a 25,000 square foot spa.

The owners of the 20-year-old hotel want to build a multi-million "destination spa" to attract baby boomers and drive up their revenues, which they say have gone down in recent years.

The two-story amenity would include treatment rooms, a relaxation lounge, a salon, a café, pools, retail space and more. Guests would spend the whole day going from treatment to treatment, as opposed to just a few hours.

"We believe this will rejuvenate the property and attract new clients that are looking for less active activities," said Roger Soane, general manager of the Fairmont, adding that a similar destination facility already exists in their sister Banff Springs hotel.

Soane went to council on Tuesday to ask the lawmakers to rezone the hotel to allow such a large commercial venture.

The manager of Oxford Properties, whose company bought seven Fairmont resorts in 2006 including the Whistler hotel, also told council that even though the hotel already has a day spa he believes a destination spa will give the resort a competitive advantage.

"What we have done in the last number of years was look at each hotel independently and what amenities they offer," said Dan Reid.

"When we come to Whistler, the feedback we are getting from the hotel teams was that it lacked a destination spa on par with Banff."

Reid added the spa would cost $12 to $15 million to build.

Following the presentations, council voted unanimously to further review their application, although Mayor Ken Melamed showed some reservations.

"I want to express my surprise at seeing this here," said Melamed.

"We had made it quite clear that 2009 was the year we would not entertain major rezoning proposals given that the (Olympic) Games are coming, and we did not want to have the village at risk of being under construction."

The mayor also brought up several other concerns - including how a destination spa would impact the overall density of the village and whether spa-going would become outdated once the baby boomer generation is gone. 

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