A cloud moved over Blackcomb as senior staff announced the results of a guest survey and launched new summer operations last week, so the media tour boarded the Peak 2 Peak Gondola a little earlier than planned to soak in the sun in the alpine of Whistler Mountain. As a testament to what the Peak 2 Peak offers guests, it was a powerful example.
The Peak 2 Peak figures heavily in Whistler Blackcomb's future plans, including a plan to grow the number of off-season visits by expanding the high alpine experience. Prior to the opening of the gondola, which connects the Roundhouse on Whistler to the Rendezous on Blackcomb, summer sightseeing was limited to Whistler Mountain.
Now, there are close to 10 km of beginner and intermediate hiking trails on Blackcomb, most of which is trail that already existed for sightseeing when Blackcomb and Whistler were separately owned.
The Peak 2 Peak is already doing its job, according to a survey of guests. Roughly 15 per cent of visitors this past winter were in Whistler to ride the Peak 2 Peak, which opened in December. This summer, roughly 70 per cent of guests on the mountains said they were there to ride Peak 2 Peak.
"Peak 2 Peak is a big reason why people are coming to Whistler," Dave Brownlie, president and CEO for Whistler Blackcomb, said during a media tour last week. "People want to see what we're doing here, they want to see Canada's next tourism icon."
Guests are also happy with the price point, with a lift ticket selling for $41 including Peak 2 Peak access.
In a sense, Peak 2 Peak is just the bait - a way to get visitors into the alpine where they can do some hiking, take the Peak Chair to the summit, dine at restaurants and take advantage of other opportunities.
The goal is to increase the number of trails, activities and attractions so visitors to the resort spend more than a day on the mountains.
"It's the mountain bike park, the view, the trails, the Okanagan wine tasting at Steeps," Brownlie said. "Going up Whistler Mountain, taking the Peak 2 Peak over to Christine's (Rendezvous) for lunch is a special experience."
Most of the development has happened in the past 10 years. The Whistler Mountain Bike Park opened in 1999, and turned 10 years old this year. In 2005 Whistler Blackcomb opened the Peak Chair for summer sightseeing and guided mountain bike descents, followed by the opening of the High Note Trail in 2007 - a scenic 5 km trail that extends from the peak of Whistler into Garibaldi Provincial Park to the Musical Bumps.