For the better part of seven years, Whistler was all about hosting the 2010 Games. It dominated plans and strategies for all of the resort's major stakeholders, and put other initiatives - like a much-needed update of the Official Community Plan - on the backburner.
Now that the Games are in the history books, Whistler is in the position again where the resort is adjusting to new realities while planning for the future.
To that end, an unprecedented meeting of One Whistler was held on Jan. 27 at Millennium Place, with representatives of four major stakeholders in the resort taking part - the Resort Municipality of Whistler, Tourism Whistler, Whistler Blackcomb and the Whistler Chamber of Commerce. One Whistler does meet on a regular basis, but never at such a high level.
The goal was for stakeholders to share information on what they're working on, and to look at ways they could work together in the future.
There were several themes that emerged during the meeting, such as the long-term changes to the economy, the need to cooperate between agencies, the potential to open Whistler to new markets and efforts to improve the level of service.
The resort's goal going forward is to increase hotel occupancy from an average of 55 per cent to 65 per cent, but One Whistler members felt that goal needed to be articulated better within the resort, in a way that inspires the community similar to delivering the Olympics.
RMOW faces budget challenges, but committed to building tourism
Mayor Ken Melamed spoke on behalf of the Resort Municipality of Whistler, and noted that service is key.
"The fundamental notion that we all accept is that we're a resort municipality... it's all about servicing our visitors, and the visitor who comes here doesn't distinguish between who delivered the services, whether it's Whistler Blackcomb or the municipality. If everyone is committed to providing that same level of guest service, then everybody is going to benefit."
Melamed noted the municipality's current budget issues, and the demands on the share of hotel taxes that the province shares with the municipality to improve tourism.
The big initiative for the RMOW is the Official Community Plan update, and local participation in renewing a now 17-year-old document that helps determine municipal priorities.
"As a resort we are intensively planned, it's something that is part of our culture and it's one of the key reasons for our success," said Melamed.
As for the hotel tax, Melamed noted that those expenditures have to approved by the provincial government - including $2.6 million for festivals, events and animation that have been proposed. As well, the resort is looking at the resort arrival experience and the need for a central arrival centre for guests.