Toilet paper tells the story.
The amount of sanitary wipe rolling out of the warehouse at Slope Side Supply, which provides toilet paper and other essential supplies for hotels, is a good indicator of how busy the resort was over the holiday season.
"We've talked about it before. It's us and the liquor store that are probably the best indicators of how busy Whistler really is," said David Krasny, co-owner of Slope Side Supply.
And busy they were. What he noticed was the massive amount of last-minute pick-up traffic many of the hotels experienced. Slope Side was frantically filling orders throughout the holiday to hotels across the resort, and while hard data for the holiday are not yet available from Tourism Whistler, Krasny said many of the hoteliers he talked to experienced as much as a 10 per cent last minute pick-up.
"Everything was last minute," he said. "Everything was much quicker, more dynamic, and I think the resort came out well. I have heard nothing but good things about people's experiences at the resort. It seemed everyone stepped up because we had to work way harder than we're used to," he said.
The reason, he said, was the weather. And the deals.
"You're actually better off as a hotel manager looking at what kind of week it's going to be on the weather," Krasny said. "If you go to the Weather Network (and it says) that we're going to have a beautiful week, then you know we're going to have these last minute people. If we're forecasting bad weather then you know we're not."
Louise Walker, manager of research for Tourism Whistler, said that last minute bookings have been a key trend since the recession for the entire travel industry, not just Whistler. Consumers now expect good value for money at all price levels and travelers are prepared to wait until the last minute to book.
Tourism Whistler's hotel occupancy numbers won't be available until later this month but she wrote in an email to Pique that room nights for December were originally forecast to decrease two per cent. Recent data suggests that room nights will outperform the forecast and be on par or even slightly ahead of December 2009.
"The week in between Christmas and New Year was looking especially strong and I'd expect occupancy to have been around 90 per cent for the holiday period," she wrote, considering the pace of bookings and all the last minute bookings.
But Tourism Whistler's occupancy numbers only tell a part of the story of the resort's daily, weekly and monthly success.