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Thanksgiving Weekend draws crowds

Falling Canadian dollar and cheaper gas may have helped



On the surface the Thanksgiving long weekend looked to be a strong one for Whistler.

Whistler-Blackcomb, while still crunching its numbers, saw more people come through the doors of the famous Turkey Sale than last year.

But what isn’t clear is if that translated into higher sales volumes.

“I don’t have all that data, but certainly there were more people and we had great bargains,” said Stuart Rempel, Whistler-Blackcomb’s senior VP of marketing and sales.

“I think people were being a little bit cautious. But we were quite pleased with the results given the context of all the economic news of last week.”

Rempel admits talk of economic recession had him worried especially as the company headed toward the early bird deadline for pass sales on Oct.13.

“Frankly after a week of very, very challenging economic news I was a bit worried,” he said.

“ But… the news didn’t reflect on the pass sales like we thought it would.”

Rempel declined to share the actual figures or say how sales went in comparison to other years.

“We are still adding it up so all I will say right now is that we are quite thrilled with the level of loyalty that we have,” said Rempel.

And, he said, nearly everyone got his or her passes with the Peak 2 Peak option.

“It is a great vote of confidence that we have made the right decision with this investment and everybody seems to want to ride it,” said Rempel.

He also pointed to a falling Canadian dollar and lower gas prices as two factors that may help the resort and tourism in general in the coming months.

“We are pushing messaging into the U.S. market that we are basically back on sale to Americans and that helps tourism here and tourism in British Columbia and tourism in Canada,” said Rempel.

Tourism Whistler’s Breton Murphy said the organization won’t know until November what the actual numbers are but the pace of booking going into the weekend showed that booking for Friday and Saturday were down but Sunday and Monday looked good as compared to last year.

He acknowledged that there were group bookings coming in at the end of the weekend.

However, said Murphy the pace of bookings for Friday and Saturday were the same as in 2006.

“…It is tough because the whole thing about pace is that we can be on pace but what comes to fruition we don’t really know until we get the actual reports,” said Murphy.

The Westin Resort and Spa enjoyed a busy weekend with room night and restaurant sales on par with last year, said spokeswoman Monica Hayes.

“I think a lot of folks are aware of the financial crisis around the world but it didn’t seem to impact them coming here,” she said describing many of the guests as “die-hard Turkey Sale fans.”

But, she added, it will be the ski season numbers which truly reflect whether the global financial worries are impacting the resort.

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