March break a huge success; Brits expected in April By Amy Fendley It was big, but no surprise, really. Whistler has proven itself big all year, or at least this far. But March Break 1999 has shattered all previous records yet again, topping visitor rates from last year by 29 per cent. And there appears to be no end in sight. December, January, February, and March — with 128,500 skier visits — were the busiest months the resort has ever seen. April could be the next record-breaking month in what will almost certainly be another record-breaking year. "This is not by accident," says David Perry, vice president of marketing and sales for Whistler-Blackcomb. "Our marketing campaign targeted Eastern Canada and Alberta. We went in early in the season and said ‘stay home and your measly Canadian dollars will go further.’" Whistler Blackcomb does daily and weekly forecasts for business levels, and Perry is currently projecting an increase in April over last year. Easter is already revealing grand figures. "Last April the resort broke all records, and we had more skier visits than any other resort in the world," says Perry. "This year, things are looking even better." The anticipated success of April comes in large part to the World Ski and Snowboard Festival. The event last year drew about 10,000 people. The number of skier visits, as of the end of last, week and as reported by the Whistler-Blackcomb marketing and sales department is 1,602,000. Last year’s total number of skier visits was 1,700,000. By the end of April, Perry says that number will be well surpassed. "We just need 100,000 more visits to surpass last year’s total, and that’s more then some resort’s do in a season," said Perry. The Chateau Whistler Resort was filled to capacity during March Break, a 10 per cent higher occupancy rate than last March. But there are still a few days to go until the end of the month, and the Chateau’s bookings for March so far show 86 per cent occupancy. "Our primary business for April is supported by guests from the U.K.," said Christina Allsop, assistant public relations manager for the CWR. "They have a two week holiday coming up, that goes right through the same time as the World Ski and Snowboard Festival." Up to this week, the Pan Pacific has experienced an 88 per cent occupancy rate for March, and is expecting to reach the 90 per cent mark in the next few days. Paul Scanlon, front desk manager at the Pan Pacific, says that just for the record, the majority of March’s guests have been Americans. "I think the whole Eastern Seaboard was here," says Scanlon. "For the most part everybody was happy and the comments on the comment cards stated they would be coming back." The lift lines were long, the chances of finding a seat on a patio were virtually zero, and restaurants were having to stack in their diners. Restaurants like the BrewHouse and Fogata had their customers waiting in line for tables. "It has been very good, our sales were 30 to 40 per cent higher than last year," said Chris Black, BrewHouse manager. "There were a lot of families and kids running wild everywhere. Business has been up the whole season." Fogata manager Kevin Lu, says business was even better then February, a record month for the restaurant which is only in its second year. "We’re doing 80 per cent better than last year at this time," said Lu. "In February we broke records, now even those have been better, especially over the last five weeks. It’s been crazy in here, and busy even on Mondays and Tuesdays."