Resort busy during holidays, officials say

Occupancy numbers high during December, according to hotel association

Cool temperatures and fresh snow late in the week brought holiday joy to visitors spending their Christmas vacation at the resort this year.

“Speaking with my colleagues from the other hotels, I’ve heard it was very, very good,” said Saad Hasan, head of the Hotel Association of Whistler. “It was a phenomenal season, great start, great holidays. It’s been consistent.”

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Hasan said occupancy numbers for December 2017 were high. The holidays are one of the busiest times of the year for the resort, with many visitors making Christmas in Whistler an annual tradition. He said some people looking to spend the holidays at the resort next year are already booking now.

While conditions for skiing were good, some local grumbling about the lack of powder didn’t necessarily translate to a negative visitor experience, because most visitors over the holidays are casual skiers, Hasan added.

“They’re not out there chasing white powder and hucking off cliffs; they’re here and they want to have good groomed runs and a comfortable, safe place to ski and enjoy a nice lunch, good dinner in the evening, that’s what they’re looking for,” he said. “They had a ball. They had a fantastic time, everyone I spoke to.”

December events hosted in Whistler this year included visits from Santa, an artisan market, live concerts, the fire and ice show and plenty of New Years Eve parties at bars and restaurants in the Village.

Meanwhile, extreme cold alerts across Canada over the holidays put a damper on the slopes at Mont Tremblant and Mount St. Louis Moonstone in eastern Canada. In Colorado, local media reported that a low December snowpack left employees out of work early in the month.

Temperatures at Whistler remained around –10 C for most of the holiday week, with fresh snow falling just after Christmas.

Craig Beattie, general manager of Canadian Wilderness Adventures, said the fresh snow was a blessing for winter tours like dog sledding and snowmobiling.

“We had a great holiday season. Mother Nature treated us quite well with cold temperatures to maintain the little snow we had going into the holidays, and conditions overall when we had those two little resets with snow were incredible,” said Beattie.

He said of all the winter activities offered, both the fondue experience and the dog sledding were sold out throughout the entire holidays.

Beattie said traffic conditions in the Village over the holiday were also good, allowing tour operators to keep to their schedule even during the two-week crunch.

“It was a great time, the clients were super pleased, lots of sunshine and cool temperatures were a blessing,” he said.

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