Whistler Blackcomb, the No.1 Resort for Consistent and Reliable Snow, Ramps Up for the 2012.2013 Winter Season

Highlights Include: Wonder Routes, Family Appeal, New Snow School Programs, Backcountry Clinics and an All New High Performance Rental Fleet.

WHISTLER, BC, Sept. 5, 2012 /CNW/ - Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc. announced today the highlights for the upcoming 2012.2013 Whistler Blackcomb ski season. Building on last year's strong season, Whistler Blackcomb is introducing new products and services - affirming its spot as a top-ranked ski resort in North America.

Last winter, Whistler Blackcomb tallied a total accumulation of 1,389 centimeters or 45.6 feet of snow, which is just above the annual average delivered to Whistler Blackcomb each year. Over the past ten years Whistler Blackcomb has received an average of 1,192 centimeters or 39.1 feet of total snowfall.

"Following on the heels of last year's exceptional season, this winter we are continuing to enhance our product offering as part of Whistler Blackcomb's product leadership strategy," said Dave Brownlie, President and Chief Operating Officer of Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc. "Last season we achieved the highest customer satisfaction score in the Canadian ski industry, affirming our reputation for delivering an incredible guest experience. This season we will continue to improve our guest experience by introducing a new "Family Certified" program, developing new Snow School programs, and unveiling the new Wonder Routes."

Whistler Blackcomb's official opening day for this ski season is November 22, 2012. The following represents the top highlights for the 2012.2013 Winter Season:

WONDER ROUTES The Wonder Routes are a network of tours, trails, waypoints and stops that were created to help guests navigate the mountain and discover Whistler Blackcomb's most wonder-filled places. There are six routes and each showcase a unique aspect to the mountains:

  • Top of the World Route - features views from Whistler Blackcomb's four highest peaks.
  • The Steeps Sampler - highlights the steepest ski/snowboard runs on both mountains.
  • Size Matters Route - showcases the longest runs on Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Mountain.
  • The Gold Medal Route - features points of interest from the 2010 Winter Olympics.
  • Family Certified Route - highlights family-friendly areas and points of interest.
  • The Powder Stashes Route - guides guests through powder snow areas.

WONDER REELS To fuel the excitement in advance of the season and throughout, skiers, riders and mountain lovers from around the world can enjoy a piece of Whistler Blackcomb online. Whistler Blackcomb has commissioned a seven episode video series filmed, edited, and produced by two of the industry's top production companies, Sherpa's Cinema and Switchback Entertainment. The Wonder Reels will premiere on August 28 followed by seven episodes throughout the 2012.2013 season featuring "wonderous" aspects of Whistler Blackcomb as seen through the eyes of local kids, athletes and artists. More details about the Wonder Reels can be found at www.whistlerblackcomb.com/wonder.

"FAMILY CERTIFIED" This season, Whistler Blackcomb is focused on developing its family programing. The new "Family Certified" icon will be displayed on ski runs, in stores, on Whistler Blackcomb's website, and in Whistler Blackcomb food and beverage locations to indicate kid-friendly areas, products and services. New signage and additional flags have also been added to on-mountain ski/snowboard areas to better mark children and beginner-friendly terrain.

EXTREMELY CANADIAN BACKCOUNTRY CLINICS Extremely Canadian, Whistler Blackcomb's Steep Skiing Clinic founders, is launching a new backcountry program this season. Guests will learn techniques and tactics to improve powder skiing and snowboarding and to navigate the backcountry safely.

NEW MAX4: FOUR DAY SKI CAMPS The MAX4 program at Whistler Blackcomb Snow School was introduced last season with rave reviews. The program has expanded for the upcoming season - offering a four day camp option. The camps start each Monday, beginning December 3, 2012 and include four consecutive days of lessons featuring a maximum of four students per instructor, four après sessions, video analysis and lift line priority. Ensuring there is never more than four people in any daily adult Snow School group lesson, allows for one -on-one time with instructors, enabling participants to improve faster.

DISCOVER WHISTLER DAYS EXPANDS This season Whistler Blackcomb has added ten more days throughout the season to enjoy featured lessons at 30 per cent off the regular price:

  • Early season - Opening Day to Dec 16
  • Deep winter - Jan 7 to Feb 8
  • Mid-season  - Feb 25 to Mar 8
  • Spring skiing - Apr 8 to 21

During Discover Whistler Days Snow School group lessons are offered at 30 per cent off. Discover Whistler Days lessons include MAX4 Group Lessons for Adults, MAX4 Camps for Adults, Ride Tribe for Teens and Adventure Camps for Kids.

GROOMING & SNOWMAKING Whistler Blackcomb has upgraded its grooming fleet by replacing seven snow cats, and adding three new park cats. The new equipment, coupled with Whistler Blackcomb's 220-strong fleet of state-of-the-art snow guns, enables Whistler Blackcomb to offer guests the best quality ski/ride experience from opening day in November to the last day of the season in May.

TERRAIN PARKS This season Whistler Blackcomb's Terrain Parks Team and Whistler Kids Team are focused on parks progression. On opening day, the Whistler Kids Training Centre, located under the Emerald Chair on Whistler Mountain will expand its facility to include beginner terrain park features. This progression-focused facility is targeted to guests who are new to terrain parks and want to learn the fundamentals of riding rails and landing jumps. It is designed for beginners to hone their skills before moving on to the next level, the Terrain Garden.

RETAIL RENTAL This winter season Whistler Blackcomb is offering an entirely new rental and demo fleet, a compelling reason to avoid the airline baggage fee and leave old skis and snowboards at home. The new rental fleet includes ten new ski and snowboard models from Salomon, Rossignol, Atomic, K2 and Head. Guests will also have access to over 16 new demo models. Guests who rent or demo skis or boards will also have access to free storage at the base of either Whistler or Blackcomb and the ability to switch equipment to suit snow conditions, as many times as they like, for free.

Also new this winter, Whistler Blackcomb's Salomon Store is unveiling a state-of-the-art boot fitting lab to ensure guests are comfortably fitted with the perfect ski or snowboard boot. The Salomon/Atomic Project will feature boots and skis from both Salomon and Atomic, and will offer top-of-the-line customization options from Conformable and Superfeet.

ENVIRONMENT Whistler Blackcomb has been named a finalist for the Power Smart Leader Award from BC Hydro. The award recognizes companies that meet or exceed energy-saving targets and implement a culture focused on sustainability and energy conservation. Achievements that have led to Whistler Blackcomb's award nomination include: the Fitzsimmons Creek Run-of-River Project, five per cent annual energy reduction achievements, the BC Hydro Workplace Conservation Awareness Pilot Project, waste reduction and many other initiatives. The overall winner will be announced in the Fall of 2012.

FOOD & BEVERAGE This season, Whistler Blackcomb continues its mission to provide healthy and sustainable food options with an increased focus on alternative meal options for guests with dietary concerns. Whistler Blackcomb will be providing more gluten-free and vegan options including gluten-free muffins, biscotti, cookies and other grab-and-go snack items.

CONNECTING WITH WHISTLER BLACKCOMB The Whistler Blackcomb Live, Powered by TELUS app is now better than ever with new powder alerts designed to notify guests when fresh snow is in the forecast. The app also allows skiers and riders to track their runs using GPS, share their speed and vertical as well as take and share photos with friends via Twitter and Facebook. The Whistler Blackcomb app is the first of its kind on the market and a Lite version of the app, with no GPS tracking capabilities, will also be available for download on any mobile device this season. The Whistler Blackcomb app is available for iPhone and Android.

EARLY BOOKING PACKAGES With Whistler Blackcomb's Early Booking offers; it has never been easier for guests to get the most for their money when planning a ski vacation. This season guests can save up to 39% on lift and lodging packages - starting from $96 per person, per night when booked by November 15, 2012.

By booking early, guests receive Whistler Blackcomb's lowest rates of the season, guaranteed. If the price drops on any equivalent package purchased before November 15, 2012, Whistler Blackcomb will match the price. Terms and conditions can be found online.

SEASON PASS AND FREQUENCY CARD OPTIONS Whistler Blackcomb focuses on offering exceptional value every season with pass and card options for every type of guest:

  • Early Bird Adult Unlimited Season Pass is on sale for $1489 if purchased before Oct. 8 (saving $300 off the full price).
  • EDGE Cards are available at Early Bird rates to Canadian and Washington State residents. If purchased before November 19, one day EDGE Cards are $77, three day EDGE Cards are available for $229, five day EDGE Cards are available for $359 and ten day EDGE Cards are available for $649, enabling guests to ski for as little as $72.65 per day.
  • The Gold Card is available to US residents, excluding Washington State, allowing guests to ski or ride for less than $67 per day. Guests have the option of purchasing either a five day Gold Card for $369 or a ten day Gold Card for $669 that can be used at any point during the ski season. Gold Cards are on sale until December 10.

ABOUT WHISTLER BLACKCOMB HOLDINGS INC.Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc. owns a 75% interest in each of Whistler Mountain Resort Limited Partnership and Blackcomb Skiing Enterprises Limited Partnership, which, together, carry on the four season mountain resort business located in the Resort Municipality of Whistler, British Columbia.  Whistler Blackcomb, the official alpine skiing venue for the Olympic Winter Games, is situated in the Resort Municipality of Whistler located in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia 125 kilometres (78 miles) from Vancouver, British Columbia. North America's premier four-season mountain resort, Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Mountain are two side-by-side mountains, connected by the world record-breaking PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola, which combined offer over 200 marked runs, over 8,000 acres of terrain, 14 alpine bowls, three glaciers, receive on average over 1,192 centimetres (469 inches) of snow annually, and offer one of the longest ski seasons in North America. In the summer, Whistler Blackcomb offers a variety of activities, including hiking and biking trails, the Whistler Mountain Bike Park, and sightseeing on the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola. Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc. is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol "WB".  For more information, visit www.whistlerblackcombholdings.com. Additional information related to the Corporation is available on SEDAR at www.sedar.com.

SOURCE: Whistler Blackcomb

For further information:

Jeremy Roche
Senior Manager, Investor Relations 
Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc.
Ph: 604-938-7376

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