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Whistler2020 on the ground

Let the big boy bounce

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After two years and thousands of visitors to the Whistler Holiday Experience, children from Whistler and around the globe are happy, entertained and safe. Me, well, I’m a little let down.

Try as I might, the wonderful Whistler Holiday Experience staff at the Telus Whistler Conference Centre, would not let me go down the bouncy slide. I had to live vicariously through my sons, Winter and Chance, as they each did a couple hundred runs down. I, dejectedly, had to seek solace on the mini golf course and the air hockey table.

As I park my big boy bouncy badness let us celebrate free air. For the second year in a row, an innovative partnership between Tourism Whistler, the Resort Municipality of Whistler and Watermark Communications transformed the Conference Centre Ballroom into three, free frolic zones complete with all the bouncing kids could handle, mini golf and a games room sporting foosball and air hockey. There was even a chance to get a photo with Santa.

From Dec. 19 to Jan. 4, the Whistler Holiday Experience hosted around 500 guests a day, with busy days hitting the 750 mark, says Sue Eckersley of Watermark Communications.

“This has been a great opportunity to combat the perception that Whistler is expensive for families,” Eckersley says. “You’ve got visitors interacting with locals. We can make a place for the community and we can also say thanks to the visitor for deciding to spend their money on a Whistler vacation… They made a decision to come to our resort community over dozens of others.”

Over the course of the holidays, our family sought solace in the safe, warm conference centre confines, bouncing and putting our way through hours. There, we interacted with kids from Mexico, the UK and Tapley’s Farm.

Although the support of the partners has allowed the Whistler Holiday Experience to remain a no cost Whistler Village value add, Eckersley is quick to point out the program gets guests out of their hotels and locals out of their living rooms.

“Anything that encourages people to get out of their hotel rooms when it is minus 20 and wander through the village should be a benefit to local businesses,” she says.

Beyond the business and community benefit, Eckersley says the Whistler Holiday Experience took on a social sustainability aspect this year by profiling a local charity, Playground Builders. Run by Keith Reynolds, a tireless Whistler philanthropist who raises money and then trots around the globe building safe play structures in war-torn countries, Playground Builders had a display and donation collection in the Conference Centre lobby. As well, around $4,000 in proceeds from the Alison Crowe concert were donated to Playground Builders.

Watermark Communications produces the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival, First Night and Cornucopia, and Eckersley says they are excited to add a free, family event to their lineup.

“It’s simply a great way to give back to the Whistler community, which supports all of our other events year round,” she says.

Many Whistler2020 community task forces have created actions that increase the diversity of inexpensive, family recreation in Whistler. Two visitors I spoke to said the Whistler Holiday Experience was a large factor in choosing to return to Whistler for a second winter holiday.

Eckersley says she sees no reason for the Whistler Holiday Experience not to continue in the future as long as all the partners continue to support the program as another bounce on Whistler’s shared journey toward long-term success and ultimately, sustainability. Now if they would only bring in a big boy bouncy castle…

 

To KNOW MORE about other actions that are moving our community toward Whistler2020, to tell us how you’re contributing, or to find out how we’re performing visit www.whistler2020.ca .

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