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Business was good, trust us


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CMH was not able to start full operations until January, 2001.

"The biggest story for us this holiday season was Mountain Creek," Jarvis told investors. He said there is finally recognition of the changes that have been made in the New Jersey resort.

It is the only Intrawest resort still totally reliant on weather for business and it will continue to depend on day-skiers until Intrawest gets the planned village out of the ground.

Last season saw Mountain Creek take a beating due to inclement weather but this winter saw a turnaround. "We had a huge week at Mountain Creek," said Jarvis. "We clearly benefited from good snow conditions there but we were ready for the numbers. We handled them well. Just before Christmas we also had a very successful real estate launch and this has given the resort a strong injection of momentum."

Jarvis noted that Tremblant was able to avoid strike action before Christmas and should be free from labour unrest for a while. "We settled with our unionized work force there and we have a new five-year collective agreement," said Jarvis. "We were very pleased to resolve that without any disruption of our Christmas season."

Jarvis was also happy with the performance of Intrawest’s vacation booking arm, the Resort Reservations Network that started in Tremblant, was expanded to Whistler and this year taken to Colorado.

Resort Reservations Network bookings have more than doubled compared to the same time last year. The company did $20.3 million in bookings versus $9.5 million to date last year.

"We are looking at potentially taking it to market beyond Intrawest resorts," noted Jarvis. "And we are having some very productive and encouraging discussions with resorts in Mexico, the Caribbean and Europe."

Accommodation providers that sign with Resort Reservations Network contribute to a marketing budget. The result, noted Jarvis, is cost-effective, "major coverage". He said, for example, the program generated a 22-page insert for Whistler-Blackcomb in Ski Magazine in the fall.

Intrawest takes about a 15 per cent commission on accommodation, car rentals and airfares booked through the system. Jarvis said Resort Reservations Network provides good old-fashioned marketing with strong e-commerce capability.

Despite the upbeat holiday news, Intrawest CEO, chairman and president, Joe Houssian, cautioned investors and analysts not to take too positive an outlook.

"Despite the great snow year and all the positives coming out of the industry, just as in the last two years we cautioned you not to take too negative a view in terms of Intrawest's performance, I would again caution you not to take too positive an implication because we got a lot of snow this year," said Houssian. "We certainly had anticipated we would have a good year, based on the bed base and our other marketing initiatives, and we basically are achieving what we thought we would achieve," he said.