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
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
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