IN PROFILE: TEAM WOODLEY
"We just love the mountain," Wendy Woodley says. "We love the ambience in both summer and winter. Even though you’re only 25 minutes from Courtenay, it’s very cozy."
After nearly 15 years of selling advertising for the Marmot newspaper, Wendy Woodley is retiring.
"It’s been a very hard decision to give up something I loved as much as I have," she said. "Gary and I discussed it for about a year." On Nov. 5 she had "a significant number birthday" and decided the time was right.
Although Wendy will continue to look after the accommodation guide, she has handed over the sales reins to Bayne Mann and Deb Nolan, a husband and wife team with deep roots in business in the Comox Valley.
The Woodleys’ relationship with Mount Washington extends well beyond the pages of The Marmot. They have owned a condo at the Resort for 24 years and Wendy has been a Snow Host for 12 years.
"There’s a unique atmosphere that doesn’t exist anywhere else," Gary said.
Wendy and Gary Woodley first visited the mountain in 1979, before the Alpine Lodge was finished. Their friends, Donna and Barry Dash and Donna’s brother Keith Feser, were building a chalet in the original village site.
"We went up to the lodge and it wasn’t finished," Wendy related. "We bumped into two gentlemen that turned out to be Peter Gibson and Alex Linton. Peter was very proud to say they had flush toilets at Mount Washington."
Peter and Alex gave them a tour of the lodge and Alex talked about his vision for the Resort. "His vision of our alpine village was a Swiss village with twinkling lights," Wendy said.
The Woodleys were both living and working in Victoria when the Resort first opened. Gary had skied at Forbidden Plateau before but Wendy didn’t know how to ski and wanted to try.
"The first time Wendy skied downhill you could hear her before you saw her," Gary said.
Wendy was working at the University of Victoria when Warren Miller came and narrated his annual ski film. Wendy won a pair of downhill skis and traded them for cross-country skis.
They used to go up and stay with their friends, Barry and Donna Dash, who built one of the original residences in the village, Chalet 43.
"Chalet 43 was always lots of fun, lots of good food, lots of interesting people and the usual ski tales," Wendy said.
Wendy ran a bed and breakfast in Chalet 43 from 1986 to 1988; staying from Sunday night to Thursday night and returning to Victoria on the weekends so their friends could use their chalet.
The Woodleys bought their own condo in 1988 and still own it today: Building 87 on Castle Crag Crescent.
"I had guests from all over the world. I had people from Sweden, Australia, France."
Hers was the only B&B on the mountain back then. When she opened her own B&B she named it Cat’s Meow, after her love of cats. She would be up at Mount Washington and Gary would be home in Victoria, taking bookings by telephone. He taught their cat Snowball to "talk" to people on the phone. "She would meow," he said.
Wendy met Rick Gibson, publisher of The Marmot and a Realtor with Royal LePage, in 1989.
By then she had started an accommodation company and Rick had started selling real estate at Mount Washington. Rick talked to Wendy about how they could help each other out and a friendship blossomed.
By 1998 Rick had fully drawn her into The Marmot as the sales representative. Wendy has succeeded at her job because she knows the market very well.
The Woodleys moved up to the Comox Valley in 1999 following Gary’s retirement from BC Forest Products and the second year Peter Gibson suggested Wendy join the Resort’s snow host team. She has been greeting skiers and snowboarders on the mountain ever since.
While the Woodleys live in a home they built in Courtenay, they still have their condo. There are still a lot of original owners from when they first started coming up the mountain.
"What’s happening is their children are taking over," Wendy said. "I know of quite a few chalets that have gone from their original owners to their children and I think that’s pretty cool."
As for retirement? The Woodleys are taking a trip to the Riviera Maya, and they also bought a Porsche.
The 2002 Rainforest Green Metallic Porsche Boxster convertible is in near mint condition; they discovered it while taking a Sunday drive in Comox, and the price was right. "We couldn’t resist," Wendy said. "It has been up the mountain once - on a beautiful, sunny day."
DID YOU KNOW…
• Wendy sold her first ad in the Marmot to Pam Crowe of Gibson, Kelly & Ives, now Ives Burger, Barristers & Solicitors. They continue to advertise, and Wendy says Pam is usually the first "yes" at the start of the sales campaign. "Thanks, Pam!"
• Other advertisers in her first issue, Summer 1998, included Alpine Mountain Maintenance, Mount Washington Accommodations (now part of Washington Way Chalets) and Valhalla Pure Outfitters. Bayne Mann, who is taking over for Wendy along with his wife, Deb Nolan, was advertising for the Arbutus Hotel.
• Summer 1998 was the inaugural issue of the Private Rental Accommodation Guides in the centre section of the Marmot. Wendy will continue to look after the accommodation guide and accompanying website, www.mtwashingtonaccommodation.com.