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Mexican visitors flock to Whistler for Easter

Better than Vail, some say

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Mexico City resident Luiz Deicaza is in Whistler this week - his 12 th visit to the resort. Although he has a daughter and grandsons living here, he says there are other reasons that keep him coming back.

“For me, Whistler is the most spectacular place in the world,” Deicaza said. Shopping with his grandsons Antonio and Eduardo in Village Stroll, Deicaza, an avid skier, said he has skied resorts around the world but it's Whistler’s relaxed ambience that brings him back.

“Some people think Vail [Colorado] is the most sophisticated place in the world, but I hated it because all the people have to dress like stars. For me, in Whistler it is marvelous to be myself,” he said.

Deicaza is just one of many Mexicans who book up to 6,000 room nights in Whistler over the winter season. With a late Easter, good snow, and three flights a week from Mexico City to Vancouver, Whistler is an attractive resort for many Mexicans.

“It’s a beautiful place. We can rest and have a good time,” said Norma Ruiz Hernandez, 15, visiting from Mexico City with her parents and brother. It was the teenager’s second visit to Whistler – she had stayed in Vancouver last year to study English and convinced her parents to bring the non-skiing family for a visit.

Almost 63,000 Mexican tourists visit B.C. each year and the number is growing 10 per cent a year. Tourism Whistler’s Monica Leeck said that although bookings from Mexico to Whistler were actually down a few weeks ago she suspects there will be many last minute trips being made this week and next.

“I met with some of the operators even as late as last week and they said they are still getting bookings over email and blackberries.” said Leeck, Tourism Whistler’s international sales manager.

And although some visitors, like Maria Trave, 15, of Guadalajuara, relaxing outside Esquires Coffee with friends, says she is saving her shopping for Vancouver, most local retailers do notice Mexican shopping habits.

“They’ll buy four of the same things to take back home for other people,” said Deanna Ross, Le Chateau’s assistant manager. “They buy a lot of bright colours, a lot of jewellery and they love our sales,” Ross said.

Fairmont Chateau’s head of public relations says Mexican visitors are also incredibly gracious. Coordinating a film shoot recently for the Mexcian sit com series, Vecinos , in the Chateau’s lobby Jill Killeen said the film crews were unlike some crews.

“They didn’t automatically assume they could do things just because they had TV cameras in two – they would ask,” Killeen said. “They were polite in how they moved through the hotel and very cognizant of staff and business volume. They were an absolute treat to work with.”

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