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 May 22, 2014
Tourism Whistler, British Columbia Unveils Refurbished Rainbow Theatre

 One of Whistler's longest-standing amenities -- the Rainbow Theatre -- has undergone a substantial renovation and will be unveiled today at Tourism Whistler's Annual General Meeting.

The Rainbow Theatre, at the Whistler Conference Centre, has been undergoing renovation the past five months and welcomed its first guests in May. Two groups have used the renovated theatre while several more are on the books -- ranging from music festivals to the Motion Picture Association of Canada; from the upcoming Union of British Columbia Municipalities conference in September to the Whistler Film Festival in December.

The Whistler Conference Centre (WCC) -- including the Rainbow Theatre -- is owned by the Resort Municipality of Whistler and managed and operated by Tourism Whistler. The WCC, which attracts significant conference business to the resort, underwent an extensive $12 million renovation in 2002/ 03, but that project did not include the Rainbow Theatre.

In late 2013, the Resort Municipality of Whistler agreed to fund the renovation, through Resort Municipality Initiative funding.

"Conference and event business is core to the current and future success of the Whistler economy," said Whistler Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden. "The Whistler Economic Partnership Initiative Committee identified the expansion of conference business as one of its key strategies, and investment in the Rainbow Theatre renovation is one of the early actions to help move this forward."

The project was managed by Kindred Construction and overseen by Tourism Whistler. The renovation was undertaken between December and April, to ensure minimal impact on group business.

The refurbishment has included:

- New drywall and paint
- Upgraded electrical
- New acoustic panels
- New ceiling tiles
- New lighting
- New stage covering
- New carpet
- New seating
- Optical glass for projectors
- New audio visual equipment, including projector, screen, sound system and video-conferencing equipment

While the theatre proper is complete, some final upgrades will still be made to the theatre's exterior entrance. The total budget for the project was $500,000 from the RMOW, with $40,000 from Tourism Whistler and an additional $24,000 of value-in-kind from TELUS, to support state of the art teleconferencing and audio visual equipment.

"Growing group business is a strategic priority for Tourism Whistler," said Barrett Fisher, Tourism Whistler's President & CEO. "The renovated theatre is a much-needed re-investment into the Whistler Conference Centre and resort infrastructure and will help us to attract new business and to improve existing space utilization."

Response from the groups that have utilized the renovated theatre has been positive, says Tourism Whistler's Vice President of Market Development, Karen Goodwin. "We've received fantastic feedback on the theatre," said Goodwin, who oversees the conference sales and services divisions at Tourism Whistler. "From groups considering the site for future meetings and those who have already used the enhanced space, the feedback has been really strong. The renovations will also provide an enhanced venue for the annual Whistler Film Festival."

The Whistler Conference Centre hosts meetings and events which in 2013 equated to 249 conference centre usage days. Conference and group business represented 22 per cent of total room nights in summer and 11 per cent in winter, with Tourism Whistler's conference sales team generating more than 81,000 room nights for the resort annually (in the conference centre and under one roof). Groups using the Whistler Conference Centre typically generate approximately 45,000 -- 55,000 room nights annually.

Meeting planners can visit Tourism Whistler's website at www.whistler.com/meetings to learn more about the variety of meeting opportunities in Whistler. The resort offers 5,400 rooms for accommodation and the Whistler Conference Centre has 65,000 square-feet of meeting space with multiple set-up options, while the resort offers more than 150,000 square feet of conference space in a variety of venues. Off-site meetings can also be easily arranged. Meeting options are available at all budget levels.

www.whistler.com

@GoWhistler