After opening the Four Season’s Fifty Two 80 Bistro in Whistler three years ago, Andre Thomas noticed discerning clientele didn’t have a lot of nightlife alternatives to chose from. They faced either three-figure bills at high-end restaurants or packed-dance floors and bar stools at local nightclubs.
Seeking an alternative to the hotel lounge, guests dropping $200-plus a night for a room sought more of a cosmopolitan experience, like those found in cultural meccas such as New York and London.
Thomas said the newly proposed Whistler lounge The Mountain Club aims to satisfy this market with the relaxing and refined adult-only nightspot welcoming the who’s who around town with reasonably-priced Pacific Northwest cuisine, a diverse wine list and tastefully innovative cocktails.
"I am convinced there is a market for it," said Thomas, Mountain Club managing partner. "Guests staying at places like the Hilton, Four Seasons and Pan Pacific want to go somewhere with a great bottle of wine and just relax. A place with no children, just adults sitting back."
The former Araxi general manager is at the helm of this adventure, along with Derek Pink and Dave Kershaw, a duo most famously known for hot nightspots such as AuBar, Tonic and Stone Temple in Vancouver as well as Garfinkel’s and Savage Beagle in Whistler.
The Mountain Club will bare no resemblance to any of Pink’s and Kershaw’s past nightclub adventures. Instead introducing something entirely new to Whistler’s entertainment scene.
The Mountain Club must first attain operating permits before moving ahead with plans to open next winter. Officials applied to take over an existing liquor license to facilitate the operation of the proposed 143-patron capacity lounge located in Village Common, where the former Puppy Zone used to be.
The Mountain Club is the sister property of The Ocean Club. The sophisticated West Vancouver hangout is flanked with over a dozen white suede couches and coffee tables framed by a bar. Nothing on the small-plate menu runs more than $20. The mix of playfulness with fine-dining sensibility is illustrated in plate names such as Steak and Eggs (ahi tuna steak tartare with fried quail egg and house-cut fries) and Mac and Cheese (molasses-braised beef short ribs with baked brie and cherry tomato confit). They even have an OC burger; standard burger fare passed up for a prime rib patty and short ribs with caramelized onions and yam fries, for $15.
"Food is important to us," Thomas said. "We have a fairly good idea of what is missing and how we can add something new. We don’t want to gouge pockets. We want to offer people great value."
The Mountain Club creative team is made up of Thomas as well as other former Whistlerites who recently opened The Ocean Club to rave reviews from Vancouver Magazine, The Globe and Mail and En Route.
Mixologist Darryl McDonald, a recognizable face from behind the bars at Araxi, Fairmont Chateau Whistler and Four Seasons Resort, will be the mastermind behind custom cocktails. Executive Chef Doug Scott, no stranger to Araxi kitchens, will build the menu.
"We are very excited about introducing The Mountain Club to Whistler," Thomas said. "We see it is as a wonderful addition to an exciting and developing resort."