Resort gets break on 2010 room rates 

Last winter won't factor into rates

Whistler’s challenging winter last year, when average room rates dropped, will not count when it comes to formulating how much accommodation providers can charge Olympic sponsors and the Olympic family in 2010.

The Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Games (VANOC) has received permission from the International Olympic Committee to drop the 2004-05 season from the formula used to calculate room charges for the Olympics.

"We asked the IOC if we can take 2005 out of the equation and (it) said yes," said Yvonne Curry who is in charge of accommodation for VANOC.

She was one of 19 speakers at an open house on the 2010 Games in Whistler last week. About 100 people turned out to find out the latest on an event, which will offer up 1.8 million tickets for sale.

Properties in the accommodation pool are to be offered at a rate based on what would be charged in 2010 plus inflation, and a 15- to 21-per-cent Olympic premium.

The IOC believes VANOC’s accommodation formula is so fair it has adopted it, making it mandatory for the 2012 Games.

VANOC is setting a target of 16,000 rooms in the Lower Mainland and 2,500-3,000 in Whistler.

The previously reported target was 1,000 lower for Vancouver and 1,000 higher for Whistler. To date 13,000 rooms are ready to go in Vancouver, with 1,600 available in Whistler.

Curry said it has been challenging to get the owners of strata units in hotels such as the Westin, Delta, Hilton and other properties to get on board with Olympic needs. However, most are expected to follow in the very near future.

But more units are needed, so VANOC is now offering an incentive to owners who allow their units to be used for the Games.

"They will be getting a ticket to a medal ceremony in Vancouver, a very high profile event," said Curry, who believes accommodation providers should be looking beyond the 17-days of the Games when it comes to seeking profit.

"We are bringing in Coca-Cola International, Visa International, and others," said Curry. "These are the big guns and these are people that could potentially come back. They bring in all their big clients. These people all have the where-with-all to come back again for a vacation or to have a conference here. So I think Whistler has to look at the bigger picture."

Curry and her team have been attending AGMs for strata owners to explain how they can get the most out of their relationship with the Games.

Many strata councils have now chosen working committees to liase with VANOC and organize accommodation.

Most properties will have some rooms available to book for regular guests, although those won't go on sale until about a year before the Games. They will be booked for whatever people will pay.

And it's likely that most of the rooms in the best hotels will be filled with Olympic sponsors and International Olympic family members.

Whistler and Vancouver will host close to 250,000 visitors to the Games and Paralympics in February and March of 2010.

The accommodation sector will be paid by VANOC, which will then get the money back from the IOC.

Thousands of members of the media will also have to be accommodated.

Whistler is planning to build a temporary village in the Cheakamus south area, near Function Junction, for the media. It's likely that will stay in place and be used for media and volunteers for the Paralympic Games.

And, as in other Olympics, there will be a home-stay program so that friends and family of athletes who cannot afford to stay in Whistler or Vancouver will be able to come and cheer on their local heroes.

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