A&E » Arts

Intrawest rooms going after the entertainment dollar



As a world class resort, Whistler has many expectations thrust upon it: high-speed mountain access, high quality accommodation… the list goes on.

Intrawest is recognizing that high-end entertainment is no less important.

"The new Dusty’s was basically designed with bands in mind," says Richard Zimmer, Dusty’s Promotion Party Guy. "The stage was made with a mezzanine level above. You can look down from above from all angles. In the main level bar, the stage is raised two feet. And we have a $45,000 sound system that they brought in just for bands, as well as a little DJ work. We just want to have one of the best sounding rooms in Whistler. That was one of our responsibilities this year."

The Garibaldi Lift Co., Intrawest’s smaller food, beverage and entertainment outlet in the village, shares the same vision. Manager Mike Varrin says "consistant quality" is what he’s after. That begins with performances by Mamosa every Sunday and Monday. The "1930s French lounge act" is headed up by Lindsay Davis, formerly of The Colourifics. On the rotating bill are such international acts as The Waifs, a hot band out of Australia.

Varrin says he’s looking for more variety this year, including the possibility of some top hip hop acts and comedians.

"Live music in the resort has become really competitive," says Varrin. "The bars are all so close together. It’s expensive to operate in the entertainment industry, and even harder to do it affordably."

Zimmer agrees, noting that they have to sell out all tickets just to pay for the bands.

Both bars are featuring big names this week. Canadian rock and blues star Jeff Healey will be playing to an already sold out room at Dusty’s. The GLC will host Blue Floyd, a band made up of established musical talent, such as Marc Ford of the Black Crowes. The Northern Pikes are also confirmed for Dusty’s this winter and there’s whisperings of Spirit of the West for St. Patrick’s Day and Wide Mouth Mason for the season-end party in April.

"Wide Mouth Mason could be really interesting because it has the potential to be an all-ages show," says Zimmer. "The mezzanine has a restaurant license so kids and families can come and enjoy bands, where previously in Whistler they couldn’t."

Zimmer says that option is also very attractive to bands such as Wide Mouth Mason, who tend to draw a younger crowd. And an edge like that could make all the difference in capturing the high-paying names, the attention of customers, and the entertainment dollar.