Vail Resorts’ purchase of Whistler Blackcomb, and more recently the announcement of local layoffs, has left us in Whistler with a collective identity crisis of sorts. What does this all mean for us? What have we become? What do we want to be? What lies in store for us down the road? These are big questions for our little town.
Just recently, I was struck by something about our collective psyche after watching one of our latest videos about building a DIY sauna in the backcountry. It’s an awesome little story — check it out here.
When Kris Harris, of Beacon Media Group, was asked if he had any words of advice for others who wanted to build a backcountry sauna, his message was simple:
“Build one! It’s not that difficult. With a couple of friends, you can knock it out in a weekend.”
That passion is Whistler’s story.
This was a town built on dreams and hard work. It was a place forged out of the determination of young entrepreneurs and athletes and artists. People like my dad, who took a chance putting his money here when there was little else to recommend Whistler other than the mountains. People like Jack Evrensel who built the award-winning Toptable Group out of Whistler’s Araxi restaurant over more than three decades. People like Dave Murray and Trevor Petersen — skiers who pushed the boundaries and called Whistler home, made Whistler cool. They were all young and fearless, with their fingers on the pulse of something, ready to face an uncertain future in Whistler because they knew it was special.
This is Whistler’s soul, its life force, that intangible thing that makes us who we are.
It makes you think: Creating the best ski resort in North America out of nothing is like crafting a DIY sauna in the backcountry… you just have to build it.
One thing I’m particularly proud of at Gibbons is our commitment to pass on the torch to the next generation of builders, to foster an environment for athletes and artists and entrepreneurs to thrive. Their success is our success.
It’s one of the reasons why I’ve stepped back from the day-to-day operations. I believe that move has made our businesses much more relevant, more in touch with Whistler’s heart and soul. And the power of that cannot be underestimated.
The Evrensel’s and the Dave Murray’s of the future are out there, on the cusp of something amazing. They have little to lose and much to gain. And they see Whistler for all its amazing potential.
So, rather than worry about what Vail deal means to us, why not focus on what we can control, which begs the question: What are we doing to keep the next generation of entrepreneurs and artists and athletes relevant and successful, ready to take Whistler into the future with a fearless spirit?
This, I believe, is the quintessential question, the answer of which will determine what we are and, more importantly, what we’re going to become.
Feature Image: Tourism Whistler/Mike Crane