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Whistler might be home to new hostel

Facility would be built at 2010 athletes village site



By Clare Ogilvie and Alison Taylor

Whistler may be getting a new hostel as part of the plans to develop the athletes village site for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

According to the just-released business plan, Hostelling International and the Resort Municipality of Whistler are in preliminary discussions about locating a new hostel at the site.

The idea seems to be a win-win situation for both the RMOW and Hostelling International.

For Whistler it may download some of the costs of providing housing for Olympic athletes and officials to Hostelling International, thereby saving the RMOW some money.

For HI it offers a solution to their long hunt for a new larger facility to meet the great demand by travellers to use their lodgings.

"It is such a natural fit," said Shelbey Sy, the director of marketing for HI.

"Whistler is such a mecca for young travellers, people from Australia, from the U.K., all over. They want to see what this amazing winter destination is all about."

Sy said the Alta Lake Road hostel, which has 32 beds, just can’t keep up with the demand, which has grown with the popularity of the resort and the rising prices of accommodation.

"It is not an affordable destination for many people to go to so having access to it, and being able to see Whistler affordably, is something that we are all about," said Sy.

"Whistler is such a great place and price should not be a factor in making (travellers) lose out on visiting the resort. Unfortunately budget is becoming such an issue in Whistler and more and more so over the years, so this is hopefully going to be a solution to that."

Whistler Mayor Ken Melamed is also enthusiastic about the idea.

"This is one of the ideas I threw into the mix when we were looking at what partners we could get," he said, adding that it makes more sense now than ever before with the closing of other affordable accommodations such as the Shoestring Lodge and a hostel opposite Nita Lake Lodge.

It also fits with council’s goal of offering all levels of accommodation.

"…It’s consistent with council’s desire to look at providing some more of that type accommodation," said Melamed.

In general, the idea is that HI would pay to build the facility, it would be used to house Olympic athletes and officials during the Games, then turned back over to HI post-Games.