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Whistler Blackcomb announces $5.4-million upgrade to Rendezvous Lodge

Revenue, skier visits up for quarter despite challenging snow conditions



Whistler Blackcomb (WB) announced yet another multimillion-dollar capital expansion on Wednesday, Feb. 11, revealing initial plans for a $5.4-million upgrade to the Rendezvous Lodge.

"The investment is designed to improve the guest experience year round as well as increase restaurant capacity," said WB president and CEO Dave Brownlie during the company's quarterly report.

The expansion will increase the Rendezvous' seating capacity by 8.5 per cent. Upgrades are expected to be completed by the start of the 2015/16 ski season.

Whistler Blackcomb posted strong results for the quarter ending Dec. 31, 2014, with revenue increasing 9.6 per cent compared to the same period last year to $54.6 million. This was driven by a 4.1-per-cent increase in skier visits to 407,000, attributable "to increased visitation from both our regional and destination markets," Brownlie said. Whistler Blackcomb estimates that 62 per cent of total visits for the quarter came from the regional market, while 38 per cent were from the destination market.

For the season to date, skier visits remained flat at 900,000 compared to the same period last year. Estimates put skier visits up until Feb. 8 from the destination market at 44 per cent, compared to 41 per cent last year.

"We had some unseasonably warm and wet weather in late January and early February, which has resulted in lower than expected regional visits," said Brownlie, who added that WB is well positioned for the remainder of the ski season with season pass, frequency card sales and hotel room bookings pacing ahead of the same time last year.

Revenue per visit for the quarter rose 5.9 per cent to $123.90, reflecting strong growth in the company's effective ticket price and increased guest spending in retail, rental and snow school businesses.

"I'm particularly pleased with the performance of our Snow School and retail and rental businesses, which saw revenue increases of nine and 15 per cent, respectively," Brownlie noted.

Adjusted Earnings before Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization (EBITDA) were up 7.6 per cent to $10.2 million, "primarily attributable to increased revenue per visit and higher visits offset by higher operating expenses and increased sales and marketing spend," said WB chief financial officer Jeremy Black.

Operating expenses for the quarter rose six per cent to $34.7 million, which Black attributed to inflationary wage, benefit and utility cost increases, higher business volumes and increased rental expenses.


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