As you read the Whistler Economic Partnership Initiative (EPI) report, it doesn’t take very long to conclude that the vast majority of the total spending at Whistler is largely driven by “Destinational Visitors.”
In fact “Destinational Visitors” comprise 68% or $867M of a total $1.3B in revenue spent in the Resort. This shouldn’t be surprising as Whistler is a large and famous resort. So the larger these numbers are the better.
Furthermore these visitors spend $237M on lodging and accommodation at Whistler’s many hotel and condominium developments.
A large portion of these accommodations are zoned as Phase 1 and Phase 2 properties by the City of Whistler. This means that the owners of these properties have a covenant (set of rules) attached to their unit by the City of Whistler governing their usage, management etc.
One of the guiding principles of these covenants, particularly Phase 2, is the owner may use them up to a total of 28 days in the summer and 28 days in the winter. For the remainder of the year, the owners must put their units into a rental pool so that the can be rented to, as the numbers above suggest, to primarily, Destinational Visitors.
With almost 5000 Phase 2 units in Whistler and a whole lot more if you add in Phase 1, these rooms are an important part of the overall tourism ecosystem as it appears that they are the primary accommodation for the vast majority of Whistler’s visitors. Some of these include the Four Season, The Westin and the Pan Pacific (full list here).
So it stands to reason that the economic health of the real estate model providing the “bedrooms” for Whistler’s visitors, would be rather important. It doesn’t make any sense to talk about “reinvesting in Whistler” and attracting visitors in the future, if underneath it all is a model that doesn’t work – and isn’t being addressed. From our perspective the most unfortunate aspect of the situation is that Whistler’s real estate model could work if the RMOW did what you would expect – exercise some minimal degree of oversight and engagement of its own rules.
Here’s what we find surprising…..
In reading the Whistler EPI report.……the entire purpose of which is to analyze the “Key Performance Indicators” of Whistler’s economy and formulate recommendations to improve and grow it…….the health of the real estate market is missing entirely.
Why? Could a key economic indicator as important as real estate been forgotten? Or is this perhaps just too difficult a subject for the report writers to handle directly?
We are but a small sample of local and international investors who bought Whistler Phase 2 property and counted on Whistler to properly administer and enforce their real estate covenants. If the government and business community in Whistler and BC want to attract visitors and investors from around the world, then the least they can do is make the environment a reasonably safe place to invest.
We have been locked out of our rooms by another owner who unilaterally appointed himself manager, then rented our rooms for over a year and paid us nothing. He’s taken the position that if he can’t manage other owners’ units, no one can, and that the Whistler covenant authorizes him to bar owners’ use of their own property. We mention this because it’s an example of how Whistler’s silent participation in aggressive uses of its covenants can not only render Phase 2 investments nearly worthless, but disenfranchise owners from their own property. The majority owner in our project says he entitled to do all of this because the Whistler covenant allows him to.
Our development is but one of many Whistler Phase 2 developments where the original investors were sold something and ended up with something completely different.
If the City is truly concerned about the Destinational Visitor (as they should be) they may want to give some serious thought to where these visitors are staying (Phase 1 and Phase 2 properties) and the health of those properties.
Moreover, if the City of Whistler is truly trying to increase investor confidence and reinvestment in any kind of significant way, as is the stated goal of Whistler’s EPI Report……..there is simply no way to ignore the stability and functioning of your real estate market. To do so would be to miss the foundation of the whole model.