News » Whistler

Weathering the weather

Hours cut, but businesses working to keep employees on, guests coming back

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According to Comeau Thompson, the lack of skiing elsewhere in the region is hurting Whistler. "People look around where they’re living and they see what it’s like and they can’t imagine that we have any snow up here."

The rumour that Whistler-Blackcomb was closing also did a lot of damage, and both the mountains and Tourism Whistler immediately responded with a PR campaign to assure people that the mountains are still open.

"Those kinds of rumours spread like wildfire, so we’re really sensitive towards those kinds of things," said Comeau Thompson.

Some regional advertising is being planned to get that message across, as well as advertising that emphasizes the other activities that are available.

Whistler Women’s Week, Feb. 5 to 13, is an example of the resort’s response, says Comeau Thompson.

"The event was already established long before we knew we were going to have a rainy week, but it’s grown since then," she said. "We have everything from spas offering discounts, to specials on snowshoe tours and ski clinics, to specials for hotel and restaurant bookings. It’s an example of how we’re working as a resort with Whistler-Blackcomb, and encouraging everyone to come up with ideas to make this a fantastic week."

According to the Whistler Community Services Society, there has been increased activity at the Whistler Food Bank in recent weeks, "although it’s not the impact we were expecting to see, yet," said WCSS executive director Janet McDonald. The impact may take a few weeks, she added – unless conditions improve, in which case it may not happen at all.

"I would expect that with people not getting the work hours they would normally expect at this time of year, it will have an impact. It’s early still."

Tour companies are being more creative. Canadian Snowmobile Adventures, which can no longer offer snowmobile tours on Whistler-Blackcomb, is offering Hummer/snowmobile tours in the Callaghan Valley that end with a tour of Alexander Falls. They are also offering Hummer tours, and, starting this week, combined ATV and snowmobile tours that are very successful.

Blackcomb Snowmobile Adventures is on standby, and is hoping to run the combination ATV/Snowmobile tours the company offers in the spring once a little more snow falls.

Cougar Mountain is still offering dogsled tours and snowmobile tours in their tenure area.