WRA meeting 

The Whistler Resort Association is healthy and making inroads into new markets but faces several significant decisions in the next couple of years. There are concerns about the future of the conference centre and how it fits into the WRA, the resort and members’ plans, Craig MacKenzie, chairman of the board of directors, told members gathered for the WRA annual general meeting Saturday. As well, construction in the village is coming to a conclusion quicker than expected, which may mean an end to revenue growth, MacKenzie said. The maturing of the resort and the resort association are factors behind some of the new directions the WRA is taking, including a five-year capital and cash projection plan, a home page on the Internet, construction of a club house at the Whistler Golf Course and marketing efforts in the South American and Asian markets outside of Japan. Concerns about the future of the WRA-operated conference centre revolve around the fact the Chateau Whistler is expanding its convention facilities and the proposed Whistler International hotel is designed to have the largest convention facility in the province. As well, the Delta, Fairways and other hotels offer convention facilities. All of the above are members of the WRA and are competing with the WRA for convention business. There has been some talk of turning the Whistler Conference Centre into a cultural facility. As far as growth in membership, the rapid pace of construction in Village North has meant significant increases in WRA membership each year for the last few years (16 per cent in 1995), since each property owner is required to join the association. With the village area approaching buildout membership will begin to plateau in a couple of years, which means stagnant revenues for the WRA, unless membership fees are increased. At the same time, the WRA is trying to diversify the resort’s markets. WRA President David Thomson, in his written message in the 1995 annual report, touched on some of the other factors involved with the rapid pace of construction, including more members competing for customers’ business. "While our growth rates are impressive, it takes time for the retail sector to see the same successes," Thomson wrote. "As a result, this will require many of us to take a fresh look at our merchandising because to have a successful resort we must have successful retailers." Thomson also noted the regional day-skier market was down this past winter, due largely to weather and the Quicksilver accident. However, the destination ski market was up by more than 6 per cent. o o o MacKenzie was acclaimed as non-hotel lodging director, while John O’Neill of Powder Property Management and the Radisson was elected to the at-large directorship and Craig East was elected hotel lodging director. East defeated the Chateau Whistler’s David Roberts, the incumbent in the hotel lodging directorship up for election this year. O’Neill defeated incumbent Laurie Vance and Tom Horler, owner of the Whistler McDonald’s.

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