Whistler travel hit by London snow 

Chateau Whistler loses 100 room nights so far, says general manager

One of the biggest snowstorms in three decades hit London last week, as well as several airports in Germany, France, the Netherlands and Switzerland, creating chaos for tens of thousands of holiday travellers.

Even Frankfurt, Germany - no stranger to snow - cancelled 300 flights on Tuesday of this week after 40 cm of snow fell on the region.

The repercussions for airline travel are being felt globally, including in Whistler.

The delays at London's Heathrow Airport started on Friday, Dec. 10. Some travellers have been delayed for a week or more as airlines scramble to handle the backlog of travellers. As late as Wednesday, Dec. 22, the airport was still operating on a reduced flight schedule.

Officials at Heathrow warned travellers to contact emergency numbers and visit websites before arriving at the airport to avoid having thousands of travellers camped out in airport waiting areas.

Some of those stranded travellers were en route to Whistler to celebrate the holidays.

"We've lost, I would say, close to 100 room nights so far," said Roger Soane, the general manager of the Fairmont Chateau Whistler. "Some have had to cancel, but many have extended. There's one family that has been coming here for years for the holidays from the U.K. They normally would have arrived on the Saturday (Dec. 18) and now they're flying in on Dec. 26 and staying a little later so they'll still get two weeks. That's typical of what we're seeing."

Soane was encouraged by the news on Tuesday that both Air Canada and British Airways had resumed flights, although some passengers will ultimately be delayed seven days or more. However, he's also concerned by news that some people who had flights cancelled this week will not be able to get onto flights until after the New Year.

Soane says the hotel is busy but not 100 per cent sold out for the holidays or the busy week after Christmas. However, all of the family units and suites are sold out, and calls continue to come in for rooms.

He also confirmed that the Fairmont regularly hosts travellers from the U.K. over the holidays, and said that they are in daily contact with tour operators on the status of their guests.

Soane pointed out that this is the second time this year that air traffic from Europe has been thrown into chaos. In May, a volcano in Iceland erupted and blanketed Western Europe in ash. The ash was determined to pose a risk to aircraft engines.

Local travel agents were not aware of any visitors that have been delayed by the snow, but said they know of several residents who are trying to fly to Europe for the holidays or return to Canada that are being delayed.


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