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Reservations filling for new 188-bed hostel

Doors set to open on July 1, old hostel to close



Beds are quickly booking up at Whistler's newest, and cheapest, place to lay your head.

For $30 per night guests will be able to stay at the new Hostelling International (HI) hostel at Cheakamus Crossing. It's one of the first buildings to open at the athletes' village since the 2010 Games.

The hostel doesn't open its doors until July 1 but reservations are already well underway.

"It's pretty popular so far," said Alistair McLean, CEO for the Pacific Mountain branch of HI Canada.

"The resort needs it - a low-cost budget accommodation."

The new building will bring 188 discount beds to Whistler - that's roughly 150 more than the old 25-bed hostel on the shores of Alta Lake Road.

That old hostel has been operating at near capacity but will close its doors when the new HI building opens.

"HI has played a big role in making Whistler accessible to young travellers for decades," said McLean. "But the demand has far surpassed what we currently offer so we're excited to be opening a new property at this high point in Whistler's history."

The municipality, which bought the old HI site for $2.7 million, has plans to develop it as more waterfront parkland.

This year's Five-Year Financial Plan has a line item of $50,000 earmarked for site master planning of the former hostel site in 2010.

Jan Jansen, general manager of resort experience for the municipality, explained that the site has several buildings on it in additional to the hostel itself. Many of those buildings are rented out.

"We'll respect the arrangements the hostel has made with (those tenants)," said Jansen.

The municipality also plans to do a building and property assessment and possibly let some community and recreation groups use the site in the short-term.

As for the long-term future of the site, that will likely be factored into several ongoing planning initiatives underway at municipal hall such as the Official Community Plan update and the development of the Cultural Tourism Strategy.

"That will become more clear," said Jansen of the site's future.

The $8.9 million new hostel was part of the $161 million athletes' village development for the 2010 Winter Games.

"The hostel was a building that we built for a fixed cost," said Joe Redmond, president of the Whistler Development Corporation (WDC), which built the athletes' village.

The four-storey hostel housed athletes during the Games, and is now in the process of being re-painted and repaired before opening its doors for the summer.

Shared rooms start at $30 per person and private rooms start at $99 per room. The new hostel includes a large self-catering kitchen and dining room, a TV lounge and a games room. There will also be an on-site café with an outdoor patio.



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