Dec 1, 2008 | Marmot, Winter 2008

Olympic Connections in Beijing

Marketing has been an important initiative for Mount Washington Alpine Resort as it pursues a supporting role in the 2010 Winter Olympic Games to be held at Vancouver/Whistler, B.C.

Last summer, with that in mind, Resort Marketing Director Karen Bonell and Resort Director of Business Operations Don Sharpe headed to Beijing, China, to the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Bonell is Chair of the Tourism Vancouver Island 2010 Task Force, whose mission, she says, is to leverage the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games by effectively co-ordinating opportunities to maximize Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast’s exposure by increasing tourist visitation.

Going to Beijing “was an awesome experience,” Bonell said. “We had a full agenda, giving us a behind-the-scenes look at business marketing opportunities around an Olympic Games. It gave us key connections,” she added.

Ironically, one of those connections came with IMG Sage Hills Development, which plans to develop more than 2,000 acres near Cumberland, B.C. IMG Academies intends to run a golf and tennis training facility in conjunction with Sage Hills. Bonell said that partnership in particular could be fruitful in the near future for Mount Washington.

“It was a good experience,” Sharpe said of the trip. “It was different than the Winter Games, but I think we made some good connections.”

Sharpe was part of a Comox Valley delegation that travelled to Torino, Italy, for the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics.

Ironically, Sharpe and Bonell met B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell while at a Coca-Cola reception in Beijing. “He knows we were there and he knew we were there promoting the Comox Valley,” Sharpe said. “You don’t get the opportunity to spent 15 minutes with the Premier of British Columbia very often. ”

Sharpe and Bonell met with the Minister of Sport for China, discussing the upcoming International Paralympic Committee (IPC) World Cup event at Mount Washington. “We had an opportunity to talk about training,” Sharpe said.

Bonell was interviewed by Global Television; other opportunities included Sharpe going to the Johnson and Johnson facility and observing what they do as a sponsor to the Olympic Games.

Bonell and Sharpe spent some time with representatives from the Chinese Paralympic Committee while at the B.C.-Canada Pavilion, and at a dinner sat with the vice-president of operations for Melco China Resorts, which operates five different ski resorts in China.

“You just get an understanding what it’s like to be running a ski resort in another country,” Bonell said. “Especially China. We just don’t understand the market.”

The week wasn’t all work and no play. The highlight of the trip for Bonell was watching the men’s singles tennis finals. The gold medal ceremony was very emotional, she said. “It was very moving.”

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