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Almost a year ago Pique Newsmagazine was launched with a feature story by Steven Threndyle which attempted to show how busy the coming ski season would be in Whistler. Ten months later, we know Blackcomb and Whistler Mountains entertained a record 1.8 million skier visits last winter. We also know Whistler has seen (an incredible amount of building) this summer, which will add x rooms and y retail spaces in time for this winter. Since the Open Skies agreement with the United States came into effect in the spring x new routes have gone into operation, making it easier for people in several major U.S. cities to fly to Vancouver... The Canadian dollar, weakend by government debt and vulnerable to Quebec referendum polls, continues to make vacations in Canada a bargain for Americans, Brits, Japanese and just about every other industrialized country. Late last week SKI magazine announced that Whistler had topped its annual reader poll for the first time. Now with number one rankings, in SKI and last month in Snow Country, two American magazines, how busy is Whistler going to be this winter? And beyond that, what will those people’s impressions of Whistler be? The latter question might be more relevant, because all the growth that has taken place this summer will mean big changes in the way the resort is perceived. It’s not just a matter of size, but of service, too. The increase in retail and hotel space will mean greater competition for the visitors’ business, which should lead to better service for the customer. Whistler has, on the whole, built an enviable reputation for quality, but the rapid rate of growth leaves room for some less scrupulous operators, those more interested in a quick buck than in quality. This type of operator is not likely to make an investment in the community, such as leasing space in the village, but could still adversely affect Whistler’s reputation. A more likely factor affecting visitors’ impressions of Whistler is frontline staff. The people who wait on tables, man the cash registers and ... are not going to be in the best of moods if they are living 10 to an apartment. It now appears there will be some temporary employee accommodation available this winter, which should help the housing situation. But many of the most successful business owners have for years taken an interest in helping their employees find decent living accommodation. As a result of years of hard work and planning Whistler heads into the 1995-96 winter in probably the most enviable position of any ski resort in North America. Maintaining that position and protecting the resort’s reputation will require more hard work. have to protect self and visitors (a Whistler better business bureau?)

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