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2002 hotel rooms

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By Loreth Beswetherick Two new nine-storey hotels with a total of around 675 rooms are slated to open doors in Whistler by December 2002, with more rooms in the cards for the following years. Intrawest has announced partnership plans with Four Seasons Hotel and Resorts to build a 254-unit property on Lot E in front of the Chateau Whistler, adjacent to Club Intrawest. Construction is expected to begin in the spring of 2001 with a planned December 2002 opening. The Four Seasons will include a full spa, health club, outdoor pool and 10,000 square feet of meeting and banquet rooms. It will be within walking distance of the Wizard Express lift at the base of Blackcomb. The property will use 590 bed units acquired by Intrawest in the Whistler Mountain merger. The Hyatt hotel, with around 425 rooms, also should be opening doors the same month. Construction on the Hyatt was initially slated to begin last spring. Delays in tying up financing for the $100 million-plus project pushed the construction start date back to spring 2000 but Hyatt project director Francis Wong said work on the foundations will now likely start in the fall of this year. "Our goal is to finalize the financing this spring and start construction in the fall," said Wong. If all goes according to plan, the nine-storey Hyatt will rise out of the Park Georgia property, adjacent to the Whistler Racquet and Golf Resort, over a 28-month period and be ready for occupancy for the winter of 2002/2003. Both hotels will be strata titled. The Four Seasons Resort Whistler will be the first Four Seasons property to be sold to individuals as condominiums and then managed by Four Seasons as a full-service hotel. The Hyatt will also include a spa plus 25,000 square feet of meeting and convention space. There will also be several other properties on stream come 2002 offering accommodation for tourists, and some due to follow in the following two years. The four-star, $100-million Westin Resort and Spa at the base of Whistler Mountain, will have 419 rooms available before next winter season. The Westin was initially slated for a New Year’s Eve 1999 opening but construction delays have set the schedule back. The hotel will now open in two phases starting with the slopeside, or east wing, next month. A total of 165 suites will be available in the first phase while the west wing is currently slated for an April or May opening. In addition to the above hotel rooms, Intrawest’s Legends building, the first to be constructed as part of the Creekside base redevelopment, will see 121 units available for occupancy in the spring of 2001. The strata-titled units will be sold under a quarter share system with an option to put the rooms in a rental pool when not in use. Construction on Intrawest’s 120-unit First Tracks Lodge, also part of the Creekside development, is anticipated to begin in 2001 with occupancy for that property slated for the spring of 2002. Intrawest will also be building a second hotel near the Chateau Whistler on Lot 5 with the 476 bed units acquired through the Emerald Forest deal. Doug Ogilvy, vice-president of the Intrawest Resort Development Group, said construction on that hotel will likely commence in the spring of 2003. Ogilvy said the Intrawest construction schedule will obviously be subject to market conditions and municipal approvals. According to the municipality’s monitoring report presented at the Town Hall meeting last year, hotel accommodation increased by 940 bed units — or 19.3 per cent — between 1997 and 1998, and about 73.6 per cent of the committed hotel bed units had been constructed by the end of 1998.

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