Kiss Me Generously: The community feel was strong at Coachella.

Being in the hospitality and festivals industries comes with certain perks, like front row tickets to almost any show you can imagine. I turn down most offers as I much prefer spending any free time with my family at our cabin on the lake. It’s a different pace of life. There’s no cell service, so I have time to focus on the people I love most in this world, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Earlier this year, however, we were looking into doing a retreat in Palm Springs and the idea of going to Coachella came up – and it got me thinking. So, when the invitation of an all-access pass to the biggest music festival in North America appeared, it was a perk I couldn’t refuse.

That’s how I found myself in a swaying mass of humanity in the California desert for a weekend in April — along with 99,000 other people.

Having only read about it in the past, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of this “festival of all festivals.” Suffice to say, Coachella didn’t disappoint. It lived up to all the hype, and then some. But more than the music and the grand production of the event, the thing that struck me most about Coachella was the beautiful and fleeting sense of community; thousands of different people from all walks of life gathered together to celebrate and dance and have fun over a short period of time. For a suspended moment in time, everyone was on the same page. And what’s more, they knew it. They knew they were sharing this communal experience; they could feel part of something.

Everyone was there – from babies to grandparents and a whole lot of people in between. From what I saw, there were no fights, no confrontations, just happy, peaceful, chilled out vibes. It was so simple and so easy and so lovely. And the music was pretty awesome too.

Coachella 2016 performances

While the acts were amazing, it was the sense of community that stood out at Coachella.


This temporary “sense of community” is what we do so well in Whistler. The best way to describe it is that Olympic feeling all over again. It’s that feeling of knowing you’re a part of something bigger than yourself, something magical and special. You can be alone in the crowd but feel part of something whole.

Our Whistler Village Beer Festival is another great example of how we capture this feeling. Every September people come together for this shared experience of fun and good energy and passion at Whistler Olympic Plaza. Part of the charm of this festival is creating an experience that’s all about being together, not to mention the beer. You can see it in the high fives and the “cheers” and the smiles — people simply enjoying being with each other.

I felt it when we sponsored the Gibbons Style Sessions during the World Ski and Snowboard Festival. The rail jam was our way of channeling the energy and passion of the WSSF through sport and sharing it with a wider audience at the base of the mountains. You could feel the community spirit in the crowd. I loved it.

It’s an interesting experience in our increasingly solitary world — a world where we don’t stop to ask for directions anymore, a world where we buy our clothes and our groceries online. We are quickly losing our human connections and, what’s even more alarming, we believe this is a good thing — fast, convenient, hassle-free.

But at what cost?

Now, I’m no Luddite. Bring on online shopping. Bring on Siri. In a way, it makes the shared communal experience even more special. That’s the true beauty of Coachella and it’s something Whistler understands really well. After all, aren’t we all really just searching for a place where we can feel a part of something, a place where we can belong, even if it’s just for a weekend?

Bring on the summer festivals and events line up!

Joey Gibbons

He has been throwing great parties in the mountains ever since he was in high school. Now, as CEO of Gibbons, he is showing the world Whistler’s magic. Joey is passionate about his business and about his community, always looking for new ways to fuse the two together. He knows there is no better place to work and play and raise his family.