After nearly four months of negotiations a Canadian-Swiss consortium is ready to build North America’s first AlpenRock House, in Whistler Village Centre. Plans for the alpine-style entertainment complex were approved by the Whistler planning department this week. A $6.6 million renovation of the space below Starbucks and Eddie Bauer is expected to begin shortly and the 40,000 square foot space should open in the next four or five months. The AlpenRock House concept was pioneered in Zurich, where the facility includes an authentic 200-year-old Swiss mountain chalet, a restaurant and bar all under a simulated nighttime mountain sky. The Whistler operation will include bowling lanes and billiard tables and may eventually also include a stage and other entertainment activities. The joint-venture partners in the Whistler enterprise are MagiCorp Inc. of Toronto (with leisure and entertainment projects in Japan, Europe, Russia, China and North America), and Flughafen-Restaurant AG (FRZ), Zurich. FRZ is part of group that includes Swissair, the national airline of Switzerland, and Alders, a world-wide duty-free and gift store operation, with combined annual revenues of over $7 billion. The Canadian-Swiss joint venture has exclusive rights to transplant the AlpenRock House concept to North America and Japan. Since the original, 15,000 square foot Zurich complex opened in March, 1996, it has been booked to its 1,000 person capacity every weekend and grossing annual revenues of nearly $10 million. AlpenRock also has plans to promote ecology in Whistler, by establishing a charity foundation called "Save the Mountains," dedicated to the preservation of the environment. For every customer visit, a fixed donation will go to the foundation. The fund will then be locally spent on environmental education, restoration and conservation. Approval of the Whistler project took some time as municipal staff and the proponents debated the interpretation of the zoning and a restrictive covenant on the Whistler Village Centre space.