There's already snow falling at the Roundhouse and thoughts are turning to cutting paths through it. If you are staff or an employer in Whistler you can do that without the cost of passes cutting too deeply into your wallet.
The Whistler Chamber of Commerce is providing more benefits in its Spirit Pass Program than ever before, which will get skiers and snowboarders up the mountain this coming season.
The Spirit Pass system hinges around resort employees taking the chamber's customer service training program according to what level they work at: Level 1 is for employees who have lived and worked in Whistler for under a year and are not in managerial roles, Level 2 is for employees who have lived and worked in Whistler for more than a year and are not in managerial roles, and Level 3 is for business owners, managers and supervisors.
Mechthild Facundo, the chamber's manager, said the Spirit Pass for this winter has 12 benefits, several new opportunities and several carryovers from the summer Spirit Pass program.
"It is part of the ambassador idea of our program. Everyone living and working in Whistler should enjoy what we have to offer because then they can share that with the guest," Facundo said. "It's the best deal in town, and this year for the first time we were able to provide way more 'Spirit' benefits."
Once resort employees pay the $30 administration fee they can access a wide variety of discounts. As well, they can take the next step and purchase a Whistler Blackcomb pass that is discounted at $1,330 or a Ski Callaghan Spirit Pass for $250, which allows them access to the cross-country course in the Callaghan Valley.
Facundo said the Whistler Blackcomb Spirit Pass was a particularly good deal, being $259 less than the Whistler Blackcomb Early Bird Pass. The Ski Callaghan Spirit Pass is $90 less than regular prices.
A few summer Spirit Pass participants are coming back after participating in the inaugural summer program. Ziptrek, Canadian Wilderness Adventures, Scandinave Spa, Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre and the Whistler Museum are involved, among others.
"Obviously, the participants that are only open in the summer are dropping out, like the golf course, but others are continuing, which is great news for us and gives more options for Spirit participants. They can enjoy everything that Whistler is offering in the winter," Facundo said.
As well, an upcoming gathering for supervisors, managers and business owners at the start of the winter season will be free for Spirit Pass Level 3 holders.
The Spirit Talks networking event takes place on November 20 at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler. It starts with a resort partner update from Tourism Whistler and Whistler Blackcomb from 3:30 to 4 p.m. Workshops take place from 4 to 5 p.m., and are topped off by a social hour from 5 to 6 p.m.
Calling it the largest networking event of the year, Facundo said the three workshops would cover customer experience, creating a high performance workplace that yields results and show how to be a "super supervisor."
"This is what we are offering for the Level 3s, the owners, managers and supervisors. We are moving away from the traditional Spirit luncheon. Instead we are offering an afternoon event, which gives members time to socialize and network with their peers. We give the traditional update from our partners," Facundo said.
"We have listened to our Level 3s and it is the additional event cost in the past that deterred people from coming to the event. We want them there. It is not about the food, it is about the get-together and the information. We want to make it a brilliant kickoff to the winter season. The fee is cancelled because we want to get everyone to the event."
Spirit program participants pay no fee to attend, while members who do not have a Spirit Pass pay $30. Non-chamber members pay $45.
The chamber wants supervisors who haven't had budgets for such events to attend because "we really believe these workshops will add to the experience," Facundo said.