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Calling Hilton Home

One year after a $52 million renovation Whistler's Hilton is as much home as hotel.
Vivian Moreau spends a day behind the scenes at the re-birth of Whistler's original luxury hotel.

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“Toilets plug, heaters fail, phones stop working,” he says. “When you’ve got a full house you’ve got guests calling and you can really run your butt off.”

Jukes also spends time explaining simple things, like how to work a North American stove to a European guest.

Back on street level an early evening crowd in the bar is divided between watching American college football and an NHL game. Heads swivel back and forth. A woman who’d been asking for a massage at the spa two hours earlier is chatting with three companions over drinks. A couple play snooker at one of the two pool tables.

“This bar is a secret locals spot,” the bartender says , “as opposed to others that are just places to get drunk.” He’s just finishing up the day shift, making way for evening staff to come on who will stay until 2 a.m. closing.

In the ballroom across the hall a buffet dinner is underway for wheelchair tennis athletes, in the third day of a four-day national tournament. Competitor Sarah Hunter is B.C.’s number one ranked quad player. Her seven-month-old daughter Kate is wide-eyed, nestled on her lap.

“I stay at a lot of hotels over the course of the season,” Hunter says, “and this one ranks quite high.” Hunter says when staff realized an error had been made in room assignments — that although Hunter’s mom was next door the rooms did not adjoin — they were quickly provided with two dinner tickets.

Echoing through the breezeways that connect the hotel’s two towers is gifted piano playing by Seattle resident Summer Stevens. In town to snowboard with her husband and friends Stevens quickly found the heart of the hotel, the baby grand piano that is a constant magnet for musical guests. Stevens plays her own untitled compositions for half an hour in the early evening and when she leaves others step in: a small boy with Ode to Joy and Pink Panther theme, a Japanese snowboarder and his coach, and a long-haired man joined by a couple he’s never met but ends up in the bar with for the remainder of the evening.

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