Village retailers shuffling locations 

Lululemon, Guess, Surefoot, Whistler Optik find new digs

Whistler is seeing its own version of musical chairs played out in the village, with several retailers moving locations this winter.

The shuffle began this fall when Nike left Whistler completely and left their prominent village location in Mountain Square open.

On Friday, Dec. 18 Lululemon Athletica moved into the larger space, with the yoga-inspired athletic clothing company holding its official opening party Dec. 19.

"We are really exited to be in the new store," said Jennifer Neziol, public relations manager for Lululemon.

Neziol said Lululemon's move into the old Nike location has nothing to do with the 2010 Winter Olympics.

"It was more of a timing thing, in terms of the space became available and we have always coveted that space because it is an ideal location," said the public relations manager. "Regardless of the Olympics coming or not, we still would have jumped at the opportunity."

The Vancouver-based company was started in 1998 by Chip Wilson, who also founded Westbeach in 1980. Over the last 10 years, Lululemon has grown to over 100 locations in Canada, the United States, Australia and Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, Lululemon's old Whistler location, in the Hilton facing Mountain Square, has been taken up by another retailer. Guess opened its second Whistler store in the Hilton.

The original Guess is located in Village Common, a Larco Investments-owned building.

Ski boot store Surefoot is also making the move from Village Common to Mountain Square.

Manager Sam McDonald said this week that Surefoot will move into the space that used to be occupied by Second Cup, between the new Guess and Lululemon locations.

"We acquired the Second Cup Space beside what used to be the Lululemon store, and our goal is to get in there by the third week of January," he said.

"We are closing this location (in Village Common)."

The Whistler Optik store also said goodbye to their spot in the Larco building earlier this month, moving to a location within the Westin Resort and Spa.

Owner Vladimir Ugrenovic said he thinks the new space is a better location.

"It is a more interesting location because of the traffic, and with the gallery next door, I think it is becoming a much more interesting spot than where we were before," said Ugrenovic.

"We were a bit hidden there (in the Village Common building). We've stayed there for 15 years but we decided to make the move."

Larco representative Jonathon Lazar declined to comment this week on what businesses would be filling the empty spots in Village Common, saying it is not his company's policy to speak publicly about their business dealings until everything has been signed.


Get your Fruv on

Meanwhile in Marketplace, a new yoga wear store named Fruv opened up on Nov. 23.

Like Lululemon, the store is owned by an old Westbeach employee, Dave Halliwell, who worked as Westbeach's director for 20 years.

"The name Fruv comes from fresh and groove," said Halliwell.

"We are all about lighting people up, having fun, making the world a sillier place, and being free."

Fruv sells women's athletic clothing, and all the products from the Whistler-based company are produced in Vancouver. An official opening celebration was also held in the store on Dec. 23.


New hotel opens

Amid all the changes happening in the village, Whistler's Upper Village is also saying hello to a new neighbour.

Last week, the Coast Blackcomb Suites opened its doors to the public, with 186-rooms and six floors along the slopes of Blackcomb Mountain.

Formerly operated under the Marriot flag, the hotel is managed by O'Neill Hotel and Resorts Ltd., owned by brothers Robert and John O'Neill.

The opening also signifies the reunion of Coast Hotels and Resorts and the O'Neill family. Father Jack O'Neill founded the Coast chain in 1972. He sold Coast Hotels and Resorts to Japan's Okabe Co. Ltd. in 1988 and the chain has been expanding ever since.

"Coast Hotels and the O'Neill family have a long history together," said president Graeme Barrit in the release. "We have an unwavering commitment to build a strong, vibrant hotel industry and share a similar business philosophy. We're hopeful that this new partnership with the O'Neill family will lead to future joint business opportunities."



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