Construction forecast: continuing blizzard of activity By Chris Woodall Despite dumps of snow, construction workers swarm over scaffold and roof as projects steadily morph into recognizable structures. Modern construction techniques and Whistler's relatively modest winter weather means activity needn't slow down when the temperature falls to freezing. Whistler's major hotel developments with retail components are on or ahead of schedule. Just so you can keep up on the huggermugger, here's a roundup. Crystal Lodge — "It's moving along very well," says general manager John Douglas of the addition to his hotel. "We were getting a little older and had to keep up with the Joneses," he says of construction activity elsewhere. The comfy confines of the Crystal Lounge has recently re-opened, Douglas says. The lounge used to be entered via "the pit" but can be reached by the new entrance to the hotel, built where the old mini-mall walk around was. The lounge has been remodelled with new colour schemes and a "huge fireplace" where the piano used to be. Douglas says the lounge is a quiet venue where backgammon and chess players can practise a war of wits. "We're going for the over-30 crowd," the general manager says. Live music returns Thursday to Saturday with a variety of local musicians providing the "comfy" sound Crystal Lounge fans remember from the last incarnation, says bar manager Cindy Pappin. The Crystal Lodge lost 15 rooms when construction began, but will have half of them back by mid-December in the form of luxury two-and three-bedroom suites. The rest of the rooms will be completed by early 1997. The circular addition will feature an Allders duty free outlet that will take up most of the main and second floor of the addition. "It's almost like a department store," Douglas says. On top of the circular addition is the mother of all Crystal Lodge suites: a whopping 2,500 square foot, three-bedroom palace with a central fireplace and a Jacuzzi in the master bedroom. A Second Cup coffee shop will occupy space on the main floor of the addition where it meets the Delta Whistler Resort. Visitors to Whistler will appreciate the Crystal Lodge's addition for the covered link it provides during inclement weather between the Delta's shops and the established shops along the "street side" of the Crystal Lodge. When completed, the addition will make it possible to walk protected from the elements from the Whistler Mountain Village gondola right around to Buffalo Bill’s and Tapley’s. One Whistler Village — Completion date for this five-star luxury hotel beside Blackcomb's village gondola is Nov. 15, 1997, but passers-by can already see roughly what shape the Pan Pacific building will take. An outdoor pool and two hot tubs will over look the gondola. The main floor will feature four retail spaces, dominated by a restaurant. There are about 50 construction workers busy as snow bees on the site, with the workforce increasing to 100 when the finishing jobs come due, says assistant superintendent Keith Fleing. The eight-storey hotel will have 121 studio, one- and two-bedroom suites when complete, plus a health club. All the suites will have fireplaces. A heated staircase between the gondola and the hotel will provide a better approach to the Fitzsimmons bus loop. Function Junction — Set well behind the Home Hardware store is a 12-unit warehouse and retail complex totalling 18,000 square feet. Although the developer is reluctant to mention who will be calling the commercial building home, a local grocery business is said to be placing a convenience outlet there. Completion will be early in the new year. Chateau Whistler — Ahead of schedule for its Dec. 1, 1997, opening, the major addition will ensure Whistler's largest hotel stays that way, adding 221 rooms to the current 342 for a grand total of 563 rooms. The extra rooms will make the Chateau the second largest hotel in British Columbia, says proud director of public relations Laura Fairweather. An important component of the addition is the 12,000 square foot ballroom/conference hall, which can be divided into six smaller rooms. Four "breakout" rooms add another 2,000 square feet to the complex. As if the Chateau wasn't luxurious enough, the top two floors of the new digs have what Canadian Pacific Hotels calls "Entrée Gold" suites, dedicated to pampering the luxury traveller. Guests to the new wing will have their own check-in entrance and concierge service, and a 46-seat VIP lounge for breakfast. Rooms will have fireplaces and what amounts to an extra-large "steeping" tub to handle all the executive bath toys. "In winter we get a lot of individual business travellers who come here to ski as part of their business trip," Fairweather says. A ballroom able to hold 550 people will be built over the garden terrace that will have tenting and two large barbecue pits, Fairweather says. The rest of the hotel is seeing some changes, too. The health spa is expanding into the current administration area — which will move to the new wing — and La Fiesta restaurant will be closing in April to renovate for a new theme in time for the summer. Mont Blanc — The Delta Suites hotel will dominate the main drag into Whistler when completed late in 1997. There are 279 one-bedroom and studio units in the complex, with fireplaces in the one-bedroom suites. The hotel will have an indoor/outdoor pool "similar to the Chateau Whistler's," indoor and outdoor Jacuzzis and a steam room, says Eli Setton of United Properties. An 800-square-foot lounge — to be owned and operated by the "owners" of the suites — will be just off the lobby. "The Mont Blanc is designed with a hotel flavour, but the Delta will act as the management company," Setton says. Retail outlets will occupy the main floor with potential tenants including The Gap clothiers, O'Tooz fresh fruit deli, and a Hi's steak house. The subterraneans who frequent the current Garfinkel’s bar will be on the road, over the bridge and into new 350-person capacity Garfinkel’s in the Mont Blanc by July. "It's a big project," says Setton. "We think we'll be the centre of the new village." Landscaping for the project will continue the theme of the gazebo built over the summer between Plaza Bistro and Caramba! restaurants, with giant rough-hewn grey granite boulders marching from the south-facing hotel entrance to the street, says senior landscape architect Bruce Hemstock of Philips Wuorilong Inc., of Vancouver. "We'll be bringing a forest to the village with a lot of evergreen trees to really make the hotel part of the village," Hemstock says. The Pinnacle — The 84-unit strata title hotel, occupying the corner of Main and Northlands behind the Mont Blanc, opened this week. The units are all studio style with queen-sized beds and have gas fireplaces and Jacuzzi tubs, says front desk manager Sue Nelson. The hotel also has a workout area and outdoor pool, located at the north-east corner of the hotel. All the rooms have voice mail and all the sidewalks around the hotel are heated. The lobby features an indoor/outdoor fireplace. Retail space occupies the street level and is dominated by Quattro, a dinner-only Italian restaurant that has its twin on 4th Avenue in Vancouver. The restaurant seats 180 and has a private room for cigar aficionados. Nelson says the Great Canadian Bagel Co. is taking one of the three remaining retail spaces. Room service for guests will be provided by the restaurant and bagel deli, Nelson says.