"The original cabins have been loading our guests onto Whistler Mountain since 1988", says Dave Brownlie, President and Chief Operating Officer at Whistler Blackcomb. "These sleek new cabins are set to dramatically improve the experience for skiers, snowboarders and sightseers. Eight passengers will be able to sit comfortably with their gear in outside racks, and the new configuration is set to improve capacity for the Whistler Village Gondola by 12 per cent through four additional cabins and greater loading efficiency".
It will cost around $6 million to replace the Whistler Village Gondola cabins. The new “Diamond” level walk-in cabins are currently being fabricated in France by Sigma, a subsidiary of Leitner-POMA, the original manufacturer of the Whistler Village Gondola. It will be a much better ride with comfortable seating, and reduced vibration and noise over lift towers.
The gondola will operate all summer with the original cabins before closing this fall for a four-week period during September and October 2014 to install the new cabins for the winter 2014.2015 season. The lift terminals for the Whistler Village Gondola at the base, at the “mid” Olympic Station and at the top Roundhouse Lodge will also see improvements to enhance the functionality of the interior space as well as the terminal appearance.
An additional $5.9 million will also be allocated to information technology initiatives, including a new enterprise resource planning (“ERP”) system and radio-frequency identification (“RFID”) system with lift access control gates on most mountain lifts.
"The RFID gates should reduce wait times at our main access points and provide us with the necessary infrastructure to enhance guest engagement in the future", says Brownlie. "Minimizing lost revenue from lift ticket fraud is also another key benefit of the RFID system".
Whistler opened two new lifts this season: new Harmony 6 high-speed six-pack in Whistler Mountain's Harmony Zone and new Crystal Ridge Express high-speed quad in Blackcomb Mountain's Crystal Zone.Whistler Mountain's Harmony high-speed quad chairlift was replaced with a new Doppelmayr high-speed, detachable, six-pack chairlift capable of transporting six people on each chair.
The new Crystal Ridge Express on Blackcomb Mountain more than doubles the speed of the old chair allowing for the transportation of 880 more guests per hour. With a 50% increase in uphill capacity, falling short only to the Whistler Village Gondola, the Crystal Ridge Express increases guest's time on the runs by presenting access to seven trails that previously required two lifts to complete. Whistler Mountain's new Doppelmayr high-speed, detachable, sick-pack chairlift also brings improvements with its ability to service 1,200 more guests per hour than the old lift, bringing the hourly transportation total to a staggering 3,600 guests. Other benefits include less traffic at the Solar Coaster and an expanded alpine environment with new scenery for guests to explore and enjoy.