April 6, 2016 2:30 pm
Updated: April 6, 2016 10:04 pm

4 things you did not expect to find in Whistler’s $345-million ‘Renaissance’ plan

WATCH: Whistler-Blackcomb is spending millions of dollars on a makeover that basically makes the weather a non-factor. Ted Chernecki explains.

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As Whistler Blackcomb Mountain resort is planning to spend $345 million to re-invent itself over the next few years, some of its planned additions are raising a few eyebrows.

The newly announced “Renaissance” project will try to make non-ski visitors just as welcome as the resort’s usual clientele and the new projects are a reflection of that.

  • A year-round indoor water-based play area (aka ‘The Watershed’)

Whistler Blackcomb says it’s adding another element to its repertoire – water, but in liquid form.

The Renaissance will feature a year-round, indoor water-play centre at the upper base of Blackcomb Mountain.

Named ‘The Watershed,’ it’s being envisioned as a 163,000-square foot facility, complete with water slides, deep water surf simulator technology, a wave pool and cliff jumping.

  • Mountain coaster 

While not many details have been released on where the coaster will be mountained, the resort says it will be a four-season attraction.

  • 6-star hotel (aka ‘One Blackcomb Place’)

It’s not clear what it would look like or what it would offer at this point, but the resort says a “six-star” luxury boutique hotel, residence and club is in the works. While the standard hotel classification system only goes up to five stars, some hotels around the world use a six or even seven-star rating to indicate a level beyond luxury.

  • Making the resort ‘weatherproof’

It appears the new plan is to make Whistler Blackcomb a four-season, year-round destination, that can provide weather-independent experiences. The resort says the focus will shift to bringing the outdoors undercover, so the guests will still be kept busy even when Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate.

It is a departure for a resort known worldwide primarily for the quality of its ski slopes, but it also makes economic sense. The lack of snow during the 2014-15 season made for a dismal year for local snow resorts, including Whistler.

This year, the picture is completely different with the resort receiving plenty of snow and more than 100,000 additional visitors as a result. But, making sure visitors will have something fun to do even when snow is sparse might be a way to generate meaningful incremental revenue the resort needs.

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Other announcements include a new high-speed lift, a tree-top ropes course, a night skiing zone, and enhanced snowmaking on Blackcomb Mountain.

There will be major improvements to Whistler Blackcomb’s existing sightseeing, hiking and mountain biking experiences, with the addition of a suspension bridge and viewing platforms at the peak of Whistler Mountain, and an expansion of the Whistler Mountain Bike Park into the Creekside zone, including 50 kilometers of new downhill mountain biking trails.

The current plans also include the development and sale of approximately 60 high-end, ski-in ski-out townhomes near the Watershed, totaling approximately 160,000 net saleable square feet.

The project still requires approvals from municipal and provincial governments and successful negotiations with the Squamish and Lil’wat First Nations. It is expected to be rolled out in three phases.

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