mountain world 

By Amy Fendley Sports simulation, virtual reality, pool tables, climbing wall, and a need to license 130 seats in a hurry. The board of the Whistler Resort Association is currently considering final approval for Mountain World to operate 16 per cent of its space under a Class A liquor licence, to give the "location-based entertainment centre" greater appeal to the tourist market. The requested 130 "A" seats would come from the current WRA inventory. They are seats which have not been used in five years. "When you walk into Mountain World right now you walk into a big ass arcade," explains Glenn Fawcett, president and director of marketing for Mountain World. "But that’s not what it’s meant to be." Fawcett says the adult market has repeatedly complained about the current licensing situation. Mountain World has a Class B Restaurant license, which allows patrons to consume alcoholic beverages with a meal but prohibits alcohol in the games area. Fawcett says it will be the adult market, or the lack thereof, which will be detrimental to Mountain World, and detrimental to Whistler. Conference group sales are severely curtailed by liquor restrictions, according to Fawcett, and 86 per cent of Whistler tourists are 25 and older. Currently, more than 90 per cent of Mountain World’s customers are 18 and under and most are without a disposable income. Mountain World reports that business is marginal in its current format and Fawcett says the need to licence the seats in a 2,600 sq. ft. area is necessary if the virtual games centre is to continue offering cutting edge technological games. Unless Mountain World is thriving, Fawcett feels they will not be able to continue "on the tip of the iceberg" technology wise. "We’re squeaking out the profits, but we’re not going to point blank close," says Fawcett. "We have a $4 million equity and a $1 million lease, debt obligations and too much invested to quit. We can’t just walk away, it’s a huge pop." If Mountain World’s request for a Class A licence is approved the area would be at the rear of the facility and Fawcett assures it would not affect family patrons; there would still be 13,500 sq. ft. of unlicensed premises. The A licensed area would function as a warm-up games room with billiards, shuffle boards and other games, with conference receptions as the primary target. Minors would not be allowed admittance after 9 p.m., and during the day would not be allowed into the licensed area. Fawcett says he is confident that the area will not reflect an apres, pick-up or dance club style of operation, but that the area would act as a common thread. "The common thread for adults is a drink," says Fawcett. "Most of our adult customers are tourists, they’re on a holiday and they want a drink." And what if Mountain World isn’t approved for a Class A license? "If we haven’t become what we hoped we’d become," says Fawcett. "We will continue to pursue it." Mountain World contributes substantial revenue to the WRA through its lease of conference centre space and membership dues. The business also contributes to the resort as a whole, providing indoor activities that are especially attractive when the weather is lousy. A release claims that Whistler Resort is in strong need of indoor entertainment, broadening the appeal of the resort experience and offering a unique attraction to Whistler especially during shoulder season activity. "The resort has an ideal inclement weather attraction, which is unique to Whistler," the release states. The WRA gains $250,000 in revenue per year for the next 10 years from Mountain World, which itself contributes more than $750,000 annually to local economy. In its first year of operation Mountain world has added over $2 million in lease hold improvements to the conference centre and over $96,000 in works and service charges. It will cost Mountain World an extra $775 per sq. ft. to operate the A licensed area.

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