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Whistler’s biggest conference boosts business

Restaurants, stores, tour operators fill effects of busy weekend



Business was booming over the weekend as Whistler played host to its biggest conference to date.

There was an uncharacteristic early June hustle and bustle in the village streets as patios buzzed in the beaming sunshine and shop tills rang up sales.

By all accounts, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) annual conference from June 5 to 8 was a great success.

Borrowing the words from a colleague, Mayor Ken Melamed said: "I think we hit a home run. It may have been one of the most exciting four days in Whistler for me."

The mayor said he couldn't walk anywhere without being stopped and complimented on the well-run conference, the beautiful resort, and on his welcoming speech.

"Personally, I was blushing pretty much the whole weekend," said a very proud and exhausted, mayor. "People were so complimentary."

Whistler, he added, rose to the occasion.

"We went out of our way to show the delegates how pleased we were that they were there and reached out with Whistler hospitality," said Melamed.

Whistler hosted more than 1,700 delegates over the course of four days. An additional 750 companions were also part of the program.

The municipality estimated a $6 million spin off in economic activity to the resort.

At this week's managers meeting of the Gibbons Hospitality Group, which runs Tapley's, the Longhorn and Buffalo Bill's, the feedback from all managers was that conference goers loved Whistler and were full of compliments.

Hearing that, said owner Joey Gibbons, is better than hearing anything else.

"That's the best - more than money, or anything like that," he said.

Sometimes, he added, we lose track of how great Whistler is and all it has to offer and it takes fresh eyes to see it again.

"That little village of ours, you can't compare it to anything else in the country," said Gibbons.

The Longhorn was busier than it normally is at this time of year as conference goers soaked up the June sun on the patio.

Chamber of Commerce President Fiona Famulak walked the village on Saturday to get a feel for the conference and a sense of how business was going.

"The village had a really nice buzz about it," she said.

"The businesses were very busy... I think we came together as a community."

The municipality, in cooperation with its partners, was responsible for several facets of the conference such as the delegate reception on Friday night, the mountaintop gala on Sunday, the Monday morning breakfast and the companion program.