Ashley McMillan blog: Live in a resort town

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SO what is life really like for those living in a town that exists largely s a ‘resort’ town, relying almost wholly on tourism?

Is it really all whistles and bells? Are there really any downsides to living in a town (or municipality as folks around here prefer to call their choice of land ownership) that offers and endless supply of activities ranging from mountain biking, skiing, rafting, bear spotting or simply relaxing and dining at some of the finest restaurants and establishments to cater for everyone’s taste?

Well, as a general rule of thumb, not too many people make the conscious life changing decision to move to Whistler because of the financial rewards. The pay-off is much more than dollars and is all this beautiful outdoor world has to offer.

It is this outdoor environment that brings everyone to town, be it for vacation or usually for a season…to start with. Many younger tourists will come for a winter ski trip and end up returning for longer at a later date, some will come from around the world for just one season and end up staying for a few years as did I some five odd years ago.

It’s not hard to see what so many find attractive. If you like your winter sports and come here to ski or snowboard, then your playgrounds are two huge mountain ranges and one of the biggest skiing areas in North America with one of the most consistently heavy snowfall records year in, year out of any resort around the globe. For some, they will be sold on this alone.

For the summer mountain bikers, we have one of the biggest and baddest downhill bike parks anywhere and literally hundreds of kilometres of some of the most glorious and for some, challenging, biking single-track network of trails you will ever come across. It is the mountains though that are truly the allure. To ignore everything else so special around here is to really do this place an injustice.

Now, for the mundane stuff – My commute is a fifteen minute walk in from the edge of the main Whistler village and is far as I ever want to commute ever again.

My views into and home from work (no matter how disorientated I am first thing in the wee hours of the morning) are of the spectacular mountains that surround us and occasionally interrupted by the early morning blur of a black bear. I live not 10 minutes from the nearest lake; there is a prestigious golf course about 100 yards from my front door and my nearest running trails are just around the corner. The downside to this at present is that I don’t play golf and I’m currently injured and so can’t run!

Then there’s the daily chore of having to work! Enough said?! Depending on the season, the working day and it’s hours can vary considerably, but those here to ride the bike park or ski the hills all day will invariably have found jobs to accommodate their needs. Generous bosses will allow them to have their kicks, frills and adrenaline shots throughout the day before trundling in to work in the kitchens, valet vehicles, pull pints or maybe even serve you at your favourite restaurant. You’ll probably never come across so many individuals working jobs that they are so over qualified to do.

Vast numbers of college or university graduates, accountants, surveyors and other previously well studied characters adorn the hotels, restaurants, lift operations, kitchens and bars. Everyone’s here to live outdoors and work is a means to an end – of course some are very lucky and have landed some very ‘plum’ roles and may be a little more serious and attentive to their commitments, but everyone lives here to sample life in the mountains.

Of course, it’s not all fun. During our quieter periods when tourism numbers are very low, typically late May / June and October / November, often employers will have to look at reducing their payroll to compensate for the downturn. This means less working hours for a few weeks for many and then it’s just a question of how do you fill all this spare time?

Do you go biking, go for a run in the trails, fishing, spring skiing or boarding or maybe even get out of town for a week or two, perhaps to a warmer climate whilst it may be a little cool and damp back at the homestead. Yes, it can be rough figuring out what to do with oneself.

So if you’re wondering what on earth us poor souls do for daily life out here in our little ‘outpost’ in the mountains, more than 2 hours away from the nearest city, well…we get by! Spare a thought for us if you will…?