Whistler says good-bye to a community leader 

After more than two decades in Whistler, Fairmont Chateau general manager David Roberts is heading west

After more than 13 years as the general manager of the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, David Roberts is moving on. He recently accepted the top job at the Ritz-Carleton on the Island of Maui, a five-diamond hotel every bit as prestigious as the Chateau. Always humble, he calls it a "change of scenery."

On June 21, friends and co-workers are holding a going away party for "D.R.," who during his stay in Whistler has emerged as a conscientious community leader as well as a top-notch business leader. By all accounts he’s a first-class human being as well.

His going-away festivities will get underway in the Macdonald Ballroom starting at 6 p.m. Those invited are welcome to bring a gift, but you might want keep the receipt.

"I think he should return all the gifts right now because I’m convinced he’ll be back, he’s pulled this before," said Drew Meredith, a long-time friend who has been to two previous going away parties for Roberts before he landed at the Chateau. In fact, it was Meredith who suggested Roberts to the original owners of the Chateau in the first place.

"While they were building the Chateau they had this big internal search through the company for who was going to be the GM, and all the while there was this young guy standing here who knew the community and understood how it worked.

"I was the mayor at the time, and sometimes you need to bang people over the head to get them to see the obvious. They obviously made the right choice. It was a brand new hotel when he took over, and now it’s one of the flagship hotels for the whole chain."

Meredith sums up Roberts’ influence on the success of the hotel and the resort. "He’s an incredible people-person. He knows how to motivate staff, and to create great work atmosphere. It’s productive, but everyone has fun.

"I honestly don’t know how he is going to survive in Maui without mud," added Meredith. "The guy’s a mountain bike addict."

During his tenure Roberts has sat on several boards, and helped to guide the progress of the town from another ski destination into a world class resort. At the same time he never shied away from the spirit of the town that meant everything to him, believing that a strong community of locals and characters was key to the success of Whistler.

Said Paul Fournier, a local mountain biker who has known Roberts for years through his involvement in cycling, "Anything this community needed, they could always go to David and, bam, he would make something happen. He’s always there for the community, and has had just a huge impact on this town."

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