There is lots of room at the inn.
That’s the message tourism officials in Whistler want to tell the world now that 2010 Olympic organizers are close to securing all the accommodation they need for the mega-event.
“We know that there are 10,000 rooms in Whistler that are nightly rentals,” said Diana Lyons, vice president of operations for Tourism Whistler.
Those include upscale hotels such as the Four Seasons as well as accommodation offered by property management companies. That number does not include B&Bs and a few other condominium-type accommodations.
“All along (the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Games) has said that they need between 5,000 and 6,000 rooms in the Sea to Sky corridor. So they are really only talking about 45 to 50 per cent of the available rooms in Whistler,” said Lyons, who has become concerned that potential guests may be shying away from the resort thinking there is no accommodation left.
“That’s absolutely not the case,” she said.
Bruce Van Mook, who overseas the management of two hotels and 200 condos and private homes in the resort for Whistler Premiere Accommodations, agrees.
“If the story is about that there is no room at the inn we can certainly refute that because at this point there is room at the inn,” he said.
“Our goal, in fact, is that there isn’t room at the inn. That is our business.”
Whistler Mayor Ken Melamed said the resort has been working on the accommodation supply and demand issue for months.
“It is probably our greatest challenge in trying to understand what is the actual demand going to be two years out,” he said.
“Nobody has a crystal ball and unfortunately we have to prepare for the worst. We can’t hope for the best. We have to prepare for the worst and have a variety of contingencies worked out.”
The municipality is considering relaxing accommodation zoning so that homeowners in Whistler can rent rooms to visitors during the Olympics.
But, said Melamed, officials are concerned that sub-standard places will be offered for rent, hurting Whistler’s image, and that employees will be displaced as homeowners seek more money through nightly rentals.
Surveys have just been completed on how many residents and second-home owners will stay in Whistler for the 2010 Games.
“It is significantly higher than we expected,” said Melamed.
All indications have been that more people will want to come and stay in Whistler for the Olympics than there is currently room for.