Deconstructing the Vail Deal
What does the recent sale of Whistler Blackcomb to Vail Resorts mean to us in Whistler and, more specifically, to us at Gibbons? That’s a question I’ve been asking myself ever since Whistler Blackcomb announced the news in the first week of August.
My first reaction was: What a great deal. Hats off to the guys and gals at WB — $1.4 billion, boom! My next immediate thought was that this could be great for Whistler. Vail has cachet, operating nine mountain resorts and two ski areas in North America and Australia. Our marketing dollars, without a doubt, will have a much wider reach in the coming years and that’s the name of the game — letting the world know about Whistler.
But for those of us living and working in Whistler, those of us who have a vested interest in Whistler’s enduring success, what does it mean to us?
We’ve been down this road before. WB has changed hands in the past. But Vail Resorts? That’s a game-changer. I hope the new owners value the importance of our local community, which they recognize that this is the thing that sets Whistler apart and makes us great. Our local businesses, businesses like ours, which employ local people, are the very soul of this town. We must help Vail Resorts understand that this passion, this love of Whistler which is fostered at that local level, is the fuel that keeps Whistler burning, that makes Whistler No. 1.
As we think about embracing Vail Resorts into the fold, it’s also worth considering looking outwards too. Are there ways for Whistler businesses to find synergies here, beyond our own mountain resort? Can we take our Whistler magic, the thing we do best in the world and share it elsewhere? Maybe this isn’t just a one-way deal.
This doesn’t change my end goal, my dream to one day see the mountains locally-owned. In the meantime, I think it’s worthwhile giving some thought as to what this new deal will mean to Whistler and what it could mean to each of us who live and die by this town.