Sunday, May 3, 2009

Not a Gossip Girl Fan

Sunday night. Everyone but me is into Gossip Girl. Then those Desperate Housewives.

It's a decent opportunity to reflect on a terrific past week skiing/boarding out west with my two twenty-something kids. Although the timing may seem surprising, spring skiing at Whistler seems like a bit of a hidden gem. This is our third year. No crowds. Amazing conditions (we skied top to bottom every day; the weather was cloudless). Big discounts (passes for the week were $200).

Some observations.

1) We flew Westjet. There were no surprises and the laid-back Westjet approach is pretty easy to take. Having said that, I got the sense of a tiring brand. The jokes were kind of flat. While the crews were friendly and helpful, they too appear to be tiring of the schtick. All in all, I didn't get the sense of much differentiation from the competition. Maybe I'm expecting too much.

2) All week, the endless swine flu pandemic noise felt (and still feels) like a dangerous case of crying wolf. One day, almost without a doubt, there will be a serious pandemic. Scaring the world population now over something that appears to be less lethal than standard flu, probably ensures that when the big one actually hits fewer people will take it seriously.

3) Whistler/Blackcomb knows service. I've noticed this before. The staff everywhere at Whistler/Blackcomb are helpful, yakkitive, polite and friendly. From the kids in the grocery store and the waitresses at Longhorns, to the lifties all over the hill, I don't recall one that didn't seem engaged and feeling pretty good about what they were doing. It's a nice atmosphere. It gets bigger tips.

4) The domestic portion of YVR, Vancouver's airport, is under renovation - still - and pretty much sucks. The lounges are small and the services are limited. A couple of the gates (the ones I've flown out of, my last four times there) are out-of-the-way, down seemingly endless ugly hallways of renovation, far from shops and restaurants, and easily overcrowded. Vancouver is a beautiful city and the airport is a major Canadian gateway. It always surprises me how the domestic portion seems like a second thought.

5) I wonder about the future of Toronto. My kids have both been to Vancouver before. Both had the same reaction again - "this is so much better than Toronto"(we didn't talk gang wars). The next day I saw an interview with a Much Music DJ on some kind of assignment in Paris. His first comment "this city is so much better than Toronto". It's probably just a coincidince to see the same reaction 2x in 24 hours, but it got me wondering whether Toronto can stay competitive with other top cities in the world. Probably it can. Other cities are far from perfect - especially when you live there. But it would be nice to see more dollars flowing to keeping Toronto clean, updating it's infrastructure and revitalizing it's key attractions. A winning sports team would be an unbelievable - and probably unachievable? - bonus.

5) Expedia rocks. I booked the entire trip including transfers to Whistler in less than an hour. The prices were very, very good.

6) Just do it. I was hesitating on this trip for a few reasons. I was crazy. I had the time of my life - again - traveling with my kids. Every time we do this, they're a little older. A little more worldly. A lot more knowledgeable and competent. Our conversations ranged from drunk driving to American torture. From John Stewart to The Hills. We had a bunch of laughs and shared experiences we'll remember forever.

The big question now is where next?

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