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New Whistler business aims to centralize guest reception for strata properties

Everyone has heard the tale of lost and exhausted visitors trying to check into a Whistler hotel or condo in the middle of the night but unable to find anyone to help them.

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Indeed the problem was highlighted, as far back as 2001 at a tourism symposium in the resort and correcting it is a goal of the draft Comprehensive Sustainability Plan.

Now two long-term residents, Cheryl Waters and former real estate agent Paddi Moore, are hoping their new company, Whistler Reception Services, will go some way to making sure that every guest who arrives in the resort will be greeted and looked after in a gold star manner.

Waters, who has spent the last 10 years in the property management business in Whistler, said the need is well recognized.

"The big corporate players all recognize the need and it has been very well received," she said.

"The biggest thing is to operate without conflict and be able to service any guest that needs the service, any owner, or property managers that even need part of the service we offer."

In her years in property management Waters dealt with a lot of lost guests.

The problem stems from condo-hotels being strata-titled. In some buildings all the units may be managed by one company, but often there are multiple property management companies in one building, each looking after a number of rooms. As well, some owners rent their units out privately.

Further exacerbating the issue was the tax loophole that allowed units to be taxed at a lower residential rate, rather than the commercial rate, if no one company managed more than 85 per cent of the units in a building.

The bottom line said Waters is that travellers can arrive in Whistler, finally find their way to the condo-hotel building but then be unable to reach any one to address their concerns at check-in.

Even more confusing for some travellers is reaching their destination and finding a concierge behind a desk but then being told that no help can be offered because the employee works for a different property management company than the one that manages the room the guests have rented.

"I have had guests leave and say, ‘I am never coming back to this resort,’" said Waters.

"They don’t recognize that it is a lack of service from the company that they have booked through. They look at this guest service agent on the other side of a desk who wasn’t able to help them… and they go and they don’t come back."

Tourism Whistler estimates that there are between 2,000 and 4,000 private rental units said Waters.

"If even 10 per cent of these (guests) went away and didn’t come back or told their friends, ‘don’t ever go there,’ that is serious."

Brent Leigh, president of the Whistler Chamber of Commerce said the company’s idea is a good one.

"It is certainly looking to fill a gap in the reception of guests," said Leigh adding that it’s positive that the private sector has stepped in to address the issue.

But it’s not only the guests who will benefit said Waters.

Different levels of service will be available so those property managers with just a few units will be able to take advantage of the service to go on holiday.

Or if an owner does not want to meet guests in the middle of the night anymore Whistler Reception Services can take over that role.

Each tier of service comes with a different price tag.

Owners and managers are still responsible for taking bookings but Whistler Reception Services will meet and greet guest through a centralized location in the village 365 days of the year. Hours will vary depending on the season. After hours calls will be handles via a cell phone.

The company will also offer a concierge service for guests they check in.

For more information n the details of the service visit www.whistlerreception.com.

Said Waters: "We will be that first point of contact and we will give them a world class impression."

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