The U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) is preparing to host roughly 5,000 people in its private USA House in Whistler through the duration of the 2010 Olympic Games.
The Whistler USA House, a miniature version of the 25,000 square foot Vancouver USA House, will be in a rented log home south of the village, close to the competition venues.
"There's as much interest up in Whistler as there is in Vancouver," said Jerri Rousch, the USOC's managing director of meeting and event services.
"The USOC made a decision that it would be beneficial for us to have a hospitality location up in Whistler as well."
It is the first time the USOC has offered two separate hospitality centres for an Olympic Games. The first USA House was in place during the Salt Lake City Games in 2002.
Rousch would not confirm the location of Whistler USA House other than to say it's an approximately 4,000 square foot private home.
She expects the interest in the home to be high in part because many of their sponsors don't have their own unique hospitality suites in Whistler. The USA House will serve as a base camp of sorts for sponsors doing day trips to Whistler.
"Originally there was a number of sponsors that were looking at doing hospitality and housing up in Whistler and they made some changes to that," said Rousch. "So I think when they come up for some of their day trips and such, the USA House is going to be a nice option for them."
As for why sponsors opted out of having hospitality suites in Whistler, Rousch said plans change based on several factors such as competition schedules. But she said the global economic downturn likely had an impact on those decisions too.
"I think that's where maybe financially too it came into play, is that it made more sense for them just to keep their operations in one location and then take the day trips up to Whistler."
In addition to an ongoing meal service, the USA House will have a private meeting room, a kiosk store, and will be a gathering spot for not only sponsors but also athletes, international federations and the national governing bodies of the different sports.
The house serves as a locale for corporate networking, for athlete celebration and media, and a gathering spot for the sport federations.
In addition to the 5,000 people expected through the Whistler house, Rousch estimates there could be 11,000 to 13,000 people through the Vancouver USA House, close to Yaletown. It will take over three floors of a downtown apartment building.
That's more than the 16,000 that went through Beijing's USA House.
"I think because we're in North America and it's more affordable, it's a better option," she added, of why interest is high in the 2010 Games.
"Right now we are seeing good interest. I think people are definitely being cautious. We're booking and we have a lot of interest from our current sponsors."