The answer is: it depends whom you ask (and we’ll see).
The reverberations of the blockbuster billion-dollar deal announced this week that Vail Resorts purchased Whistler Blackcomb are already starting to be felt, both by skiers and other resort operators. “The competitive environment just went up a full notch,” says Andy Wirth, President and CEO of Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows in California’s Lake Tahoe basin, where three Vail Resorts ski areas already operate.
Whistler Village, as recently as the mid-1980s, was a black-bear-infested dump. But that didn’t prevent it from being one of North America’s first replicas of a European ski village.
No fear. Sure, it was a cheesy clothing brand in the ’90s, but it sums up Whistler in two simple words. It began with its founders, who hacked for days through coastal rainforest and swamp just to get to the bottom of a 6,000-foot behemoth, and endured unto Intrawest, which brilliantly predicted that high-speed lifts to the top of snow-pummeled peaks would, in the end, let them sell opulent timber-frame weekend chalets for millions a pop.