Whistler Blackcomb announces 'largest and most exciting' investment in company's history

(April 06, 2016 )

Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc. has announced plans for what it calls its largest and most exciting investment in the company’s history: a $345-million investment that includes a new lift, an indoor ‘adventure centre’, a transformed village at the base of Blackcomb Mountain, two high-end real estate developments, and a “world-class indoor water-based adventure centre” at Blackcomb’s upper bases.The enhancements are to be rolled out in three phases in on-mountain improvements, to “further solidify and enhance the company’s reputation as one of the world’s greatest four-season mountain resorts,” the company said in a release late Tuesday.It said the new enhancements, called Renaissance, will build on its year-round appeal to all guests, particularly families, and revitalize Blackcomb’s upper and lower base areas.“Renaissance will further diversify our revenue and enhance the activities available for our guests while elevating Whistler Blackcomb’s core skiing, mountain biking and sightseeing experiences and continuing our evolution as one of the industry’s leading four-season mountain resorts,” said Whistler Blackcomb president and CEO Dave Brownlie, in a statement.“This is a very exciting growth initiative that, we expect, will increase year-round visitation to Whistler, insulate our resort from variable weather conditions, and strengthen Whistler’s position as one of the premier mountain resort destinations in the world.”According to a release, Phase 1 of the plan includes an estimated $90 to $100 million investment in new mountain adventure experiences.They include: The Watershed, a year-round, indoor adventure centre focusing on water-based play located at Blackcomb’s upper base.“The Company envisions the Watershed as a 163,000-square-foot facility featuring activities like waterslides, the latest deep water surf simulator technology, cliff jumping and rock climbing experiences, a wave pool, hot and cold pools, bowling, food & beverage facilities and retail amenities, as well as other weather-independent activities; a new high-speed lift to replace the Magic Chair and connect Blackcomb’s upper and lower bases; a year-round mountain coaster, a treetop ropes course, and ATV and snowmobile activities for kids; new snow school learning zones, a night skiing zone, and enhanced snow-making on Blackcomb Mountain; and 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.There would also be expansion of the Whistler Mountain Bike Park into the Creekside zone, including 50 kilometres of new downhill mountain biking trails. Phase Two of the expansion includes an estimated $105 to $115 million investment in a new day lodge and snow school facility within the Watershed indoor adventure centre on Blackcomb Mountain, a two-storey parking complex at Blackcomb’s upper Base II area, and other infrastructure projects to lay the foundation for Renaissance Phase Three, which includes the development and sale of approximately 60 high-end, ski-in ski-out townhomes near the Watershed, totalling approximately 160,000 net salable square feet. Phase Three also includes an estimated $140 to $150 million investment in a major revitalization of Blackcomb’s base area in the Upper Village, which the Company currently expects to include an upgraded day lodge and skiers’ plaza, a new snow school facility and a luxury real estate development project.Phase three is designed to transform Blackcomb’s base area into what it calls “a vibrant, upscale village community.“The Company anticipates Renaissance phase three will also include major on-mountain improvements such as lift improvements and the development of an indoor action sports training facility designed to expand the Company’s youth development programs in skiing, snowboarding and mountain biking.As for timing, Whistler Blackcomb said Renaissance is subject to a number of conditions, including municipal and provincial government approvals, the successful renegotiation and extension of Whistler Blackcomb’s Master Development Agreements and master plans, completion of consultations with the Squamish and Lil’wat First Nations, and negotiation of a proposed business partnership with those First Nations. The Company estimates the construction period for phases one and two will be approximately four to five years, and expects to open the Watershed to the public within two years of the above conditions being met.