Dave Brownlie didn't take many days off as head of one of the world's top ski resorts.
Soon, he'll have one permanently enshrined on the mountain where he got his start.
Whistler Blackcomb (WB) announced last week it would rename Heavenly Basin on Blackcomb Mountain — along with two new runs through it called Dave's Day Off and The Next Level — in honour of the company's former COO, who retired on Friday, July 14, after nearly three decades in the industry.
"I was totally blown away," said an elated Brownlie. "It's amazing for somebody that's been in this business for so long. It's truly an honour."
It's the first time WB has named a run in honour of someone since Hugh's Heaven was dedicated in 2009 as an homage to former Blackcomb Mountain president Hugh Smythe — who hired a 26-year-old Brownlie in 1989 as the company's director of finance.
Since then, Brownlie has played a key role in nearly every major decision that has impacted the ski resort. He helped oversee the 1997 merger of Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains. He has weathered multiple ownership changes — including last summer's $1.4-billion takeover by Vail Resorts — and successfully ushered WB through the landmark 2010 Olympic Winter Games. He was instrumental in growing WB's summer business, getting investors onboard with the ground-breaking concept for the Peak 2 Peak Gondola. More recently, he helped the resort navigate often-challenging negotiations with the province and the local Squamish and Lil'wat First Nations, culminating in February's landmark signing of Whistler Blackcomb's 60-year Master Development Agreement.
"When you have that kind of attitude and you've had the kind of success Dave's had over the years, we felt that it would be very appropriate to name a run after him in recognition of what he's done," said Bob Dufour, Whistler Blackcomb's VP of mountain operations.
Heavenly Basin was specifically chosen as a nod to Brownlie's history at Blackcomb Mountain and his love of challenging, high-alpine terrain.
"We felt that picking something that's still black diamond, but that's more accessible, easy to get to, and something the general skiing public could at least ski by, not necessarily ski down, that (Heavenly) Basin was a good choice," explained Dufour.
Brownlie, 54, has made no secret he plans to embrace the "ski-bum" lifestyle in retirement as he never had much time to enjoy it as a top executive.
"I'll definitely ski (Brownlie Basin) more than I currently do, because everybody I go ski with I'm going to take down that run," he said.
Speaking with Pique on his first official day of retirement, Brownlie admitted it was strange not heading into his office at the base of Blackcomb for the first time in 29 years.
But he's not the only one who will have to adjust to the retired life.
"I think the biggest change will likely be for my wife (Liz) having me around the house," Brownlie said with a laugh.
The new run names will be officially dedicated in a December ceremony.