WB’s post Olympic season better than predicted 

Snow, open road and more parking spaces enticing regional, local markets

Business is better than expected at Whistler Blackcomb in the post-Olympic weeks.

Despite the mid-season hurdle of the Olympic Games, which essentially cut off the road from Vancouver and decimated parking at the resort, there has been a comeback of sorts.

"We're not up to where we would be in call it a 'non-Olympic year' but we're getting pretty close," said Dave Brownlie, president and chief operating officer of Whistler Blackcomb.

"As soon as the road was open and they found that there was a place to park, people were coming up in droves actually."

The 53 centimetres of fresh snow late last week made for a bumper Saturday. It also brought the total snowfall to 12 metres this season, putting it on track to be the third snowiest on record. That enticed those long-suffering skiers from the Lower Mainland, most of whom missed out in February because of the Games, back to the Whistler slopes.

But it's not just weekend warriors coming to Whistler. With spring breaks on throughout the region, business is good during the week, too.

"We're actually seeing good business through the week as well," added Brownlie.

Guests right now are primarily from the local and regional markets. While Brownlie would like to see international guests on the slopes as well, it's still nice to see people out skiing and enjoying the mountains.

"I think we're still challenged on the long haul destination side and that's really something we hope to see back next year," said Brownlie. "But again, really, really positive with that local and regional market."

Spending has also been better than expected, with people in the retail stores, rental stores, using ski school and buying food and beverages.

Parking, despite some of the day lots being now open, remains a bit of a challenge. The lots on the driving range and north of the village are filling up quickly.

"We're working hard to get people in and out," said Brownlie. "There's a high demand and we're obviously working with our partners VANOC to get as many spaces as we can for the weekends. We'd like to have more and like it to be a little more convenient but we're certainly doing everything we can to make sure people can come and ski and enjoy the mountains."

The snowfall, the snow base, and the general vibe in town are all pointing in one direction - that 2009/10 is going to go out on a high note.

Brownlie agreed: "I think we're going to have a good finish to the season, for sure."




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