Organizer set the tone for future events
Sea to Sky charities and non-profit organizations will be the main beneficiaries of the more than $140,000 raised at the Whistler Blackcomb Foundations annual Telus Winter Classic last weekend.
Thats about $10,000 less than was raised last season, according to Whistler Blackcomb Foundation CEO Louise Lundy, but better than expected under the circumstances.
"My objective this year was to make the same money as previous years so we wouldnt have to raise prices," said Lundy. "Were very sensitive to the fact that the economy is down a little, and that companies arent spending as much these days.
"We actually did raise the same in the end, but this year our expenses were slightly higher, so we are down a little. We wanted to put on a better event so in the following years people will keep coming to our event."
Adding value while keeping the prices the same appears to have worked this year, with tickets to events selling out a full two weeks in advance, compared to only a week before in other years.
One of the ways that the organizers added value this year was the full buffet breakfast at the Westin Resort and Spa. More money also went into the wine tasting event and gala celebration.
The Classic got underway with the Whistler Winetastic tasting event at the Westin Resort and Spa Jan. 30, with more than 700 guests taking part.
The main prize at this event, an instant wine cellar featuring a wine rack, a wine fridge and 40 bottles of wine, went to Russ Clarke of Seattle. There was also a balloon raffle where 50 balloons held seven prizes, including a pair of skis, a signed Vancouver Canucks jersey and $500.
The main event was the annual gala dinner, dance and auction into the Roundhouse Lodge on Jan. 31. The theme this year was Paradise on Ice, and guests were treated to a roasted suckling pig on a spit and a buffet of tropical desserts. There was a steel drum band, performances by Tropicana dancing girls, 14-foot palm trees, tiki hut martini bars, and hanging hurricane lamps.
The winner of the 50/50 draw from $1,375 was Paul Woodward of Intrawests Resort Development Group, who donated half his winnings back to the Foundation.
"We really went with quality this year, making sure we maintained our reputation as a top-flight event. There is a lot of competition, and corporation dollars are going for extra value. We wanted this to be an event people dont want to miss," said Lundy. "I think we really achieved that."
Another reason to keep ticket prices the same was to ensure the event is affordable for locals as well as visitors and corporations.
"This event was grass roots originally, and we wanted to make sure the people in the community could continue to come," said Lundy. "The wine tasting is an incredible value at $45, and the gala is still affordable at $125. A similar event in the city would cost a lot more than that."
Almost all of the $140,000 raised in the Telus Whistler Classic, and the $55,000 raised in the Telus Golf Classic will go towards charities and non-profit groups in the Sea to Sky corridor. The money from the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation Founders Pass program typically goes to one larger project. This year the money raised by the sale of Founders Passes, some $275,000, will go towards purchasing computers for local schools.
The Telus Winter Classic also included opportunities to ski with stars, as well as a race featuring giant slalom, moguls and banked slalom courses. For results, go to the Sports section or visit www.whistlerblackcomb.com/wbfoundation/winterclassic.asp.