News » Whistler

Snowmass officials learn from Whistler


Representatives from the Snowmass town council and Aspen Skiing Company completed a whirlwind tour of Whistler and some Utah areas last week, seeking a better understanding of what makes a ski village work.

And according to the Aspen Times, Whistler Village "energized" the officials.

"We now believe we can make Snowmass Village as good a resort as Whistler, and then some," Mayor T. Michael Manchester told The Times .

The Aspen Skiing Company has made a development proposal for a key portion of the base of the Snowmass Ski Area. Aspen Skiing Company vice president of planning and development Bill Kane organized the trip – the first time any of the elected officials had been to Whistler – so that the town council could better understand how a ski area and its village work.

Kane is no stranger to Whistler. When the first Whistler councils were developing plans and principles for Whistler Village Kane, then a planner for the City of Aspen, was frequently consulted.

Snowmass councillors were impressed with the design of Whistler Village and how Intrawest works with the municipality and the resort association, although some seem to have left with the mistaken impression Intrawest built the Whistler Village.

"Whistler has a village formula that is really successful," Kane told The Times . "There really is a vocabulary of resort design. Now it’s hard for the group to get through a conversation without using an example of something we’ve seen. It’s really instructive."

Councillors also discovered some of the principles that have made Whistler a financial success.

"The thing that made the strongest impression on me was the value of a vital commercial core," Manchester said. "And the relationship of the bed base to that commercial core in terms of both numbers of beds and location of units. It’s very critical to being successful, in terms of businesses being able to sustain themselves, and in terms of being able to bring guests back. It’s an economic model that in some ways I hadn’t really given enough consideration to.

"When I think back to all the planning studies we have done in Snowmass Village over the past 15 years, we never really included an economic feasibility model as part of the analysis," said Manchester. "We never said, ‘Will this bed base and this amount of commercial square feet support each other?’"