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Whistler’s business community meets Vail Resorts executive Pat Campbell

First look: Head of on-mountain operations for Vail Resorts fields questions alongside Whistler Blackcomb COO Pete Sonntag at Whistler Chamber event

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The Whistler Chamber's latest Power Lunch offered locals the opportunity to hear from one of the most powerful voices within Vail Resorts.

Along with Whistler Blackcomb senior vice-president and chief operating officer Pete Sonntag, Pat Campbell-head of on-mountain operations for all 18 of Vail Resorts' ski resorts-fielded questions from Whistler Chamber CEO Melissa Pace.

Campbell also fielded a number questions from the audience on a wide range of subjects, from the challenges of a difficult labour market to Vail Resorts' decision to phase out Whistler Blackcomb's popular parent pass.

Vail Resorts has been on a buying spree of late, adding four resorts in the last six months, and one of the audience questions addressed its growth.

"How do you manage the company's overall objectives while maintaining the uniqueness of each resort?" asked someone via an electronic system that allowed people to anonymously submit questions.

Campbell acknowledged that Vail Resorts business model does involve a centralized approach. "There are a lot of benefits and reasons for that strategy," she explained.

Campbell, however, said that the company wants individual resorts to have their own identity. "This question comes up everywhere," she said. "In my experience-over three decades and working at a number of resorts and getting to know the broader industry better-what's great about skiing and ski resorts is that they are unique and compelling experiences that exist.

Campbell joined Vail Resorts back in 1999 as director of ski school at Breckenridge.

She's since served as CEO at both Breckenridge Ski Resort and Keystone Resort.

She has more than 30 years of experience in the ski industry, beginning in Jackson Hole Mountain Resort back in 1985.

Following the lunch, the Whistler Chamber held its annual general assembly, during which Pace updated chamber members on the chamber's work over the past year.

The chamber also ratified its new board, which includes incumbents Brady Smith and Tess Evans, as well as newly-elected board members Matt Woods and Sarah McCullough.

Pique will have more on this story next Thursday.

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