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Maxed out

A Comedy of Errors: Part I

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The municipality, not content with making sure toilets flush, potholes get filled and everybody lives sustainably everafter, has scanned the landscape, found a suitable windmill to tilt at, donned its armour, mounted its trusty steed and galloped at breakneck speed towards tackling the thorny issue of Front Desk Confusion in Tiny Town. For those of you who live here but have at best a tangential relationship with Front Desk Confusion, let me explain.

Happy Tourists, traveling en famille, arrive in Whistler, having booked a skookum lodging deal on the Internet. They step into a building that, for all outward appearances, looks like a hotel. There's a lobby, a front desk, a pool and hot tub, people coming and going and a grand entrance where the bus dropped them and their many, many bags.

Sauntering up to the front desk, Happy Tourist says to the front desk person, "Hi I have a reservation, the name is Smith." Front desk person checks the day's guest list and says, "Not with us you don't." Or words to that effect.

Puzzled and confused, Happy Tourist asks, "Isn't this the Powder Puppy Lodge?"

Front desk person, showing a mix of peeve and empathy, having been down this road before, says, "Yup. What room are you staying in?"

"105," answers Happy Tourist.

"Oh," says the now indifferent FDP, "That's not one of our rooms."

"There's no room 105?"

"Well, yes, there is a room 105... but we don't deal with it. That's a different property management company."

Now thoroughly confused, Unhappy Tourist says, "Property management company? I don't know what you're talking about. Don't you manage the Powder Puppy Lodge?"

At that point, depending on the training and innate humanity of the FDP, Confused Unhappy Tourist will either get a facile treatise on the difference between strata-titled condo hotels and real hotels, be assisted in discovering who to contact to get into room 105 - Hint: it's probably in the stuff Unhappy Tourist received but didn't bother to look at - or be met with a shrug and a, "Not my problem."

It sucks, but it could be worse. It could happen, and often does, in the middle of the night.

Clearly no one wins in this scenario. But before we tackle the thorny issue of how to make it better without trampling all over the property rights of the poor suckers who own the individual condos, we need, as my friend Leslie says, a bit of a history, and unfortunately, an economics lesson.

Let's suppose it's a nice, sunny day in Sea-to-Sky land, you have an irresistible hankerin' for the last of the fresh strawberries and, as good as they are, you want something better than whatever's been picked over at Nesters and decide it's a great day for a drive to Pemberton.

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