PLANNING BEFORE YOU LEAVE HOME
Please read through this document carefully and ensure that you make the appropriate preparations for your upcoming internship on the WBSSU course in Whistler.
We would also suggest also taking the time to read through the employment section of the Whistler Blackcomb website to familiarize yourself with frequently asked questions etc. Visit the WB website here.
You MUST have medical insurance including coverage for winter sports. Please ensure your insurance coverage includes all winter sports ie: skiing, snowboarding, and some extra activities such as snowmobiling, dogsled etc. We also advise you to take out insurance for loss or damage to your personal possessions. YES Tours is not responsible for any lost, stolen, or damaged personal belongings.
Make sure that your insurance covers the entirety of your stay in Canada, not just the 4 week course, i.e. until the end of April or longer if you are planning to stay through the summer. While you’re on snow teaching for WB you will be covered under the BC employee insurance, HOWEVER for every second that you’re not working, free skiing etc you MUST have travel health insurance – best investment you will make. Also the employee insurance will only cover medical care and some lost earnings but not flying you home etc. if necessary.
We suggest World Nomads Travel Insurance for all nationalities. They will cover your ski/snowboard adventure and you can buy, extend, and claim online, even if you are already on the road travelling: WorldNomads for travel Insurance.
If you are from Australia or New Zealand, Travel Insurance Direct also offers low cost travel insurance for domestic and international ski and snowboard holidays.
If you are from the United Kingdom or Europe – ERGO Insurance (previously ERV) offer great insurance options specifically for ski and snowboard vacations – covering both off piste and backcountry terrain. They also offer cancellation coverage. For more information visit their website here.
**Please note that the above insurance companies are suggestions only, and you should always do your own research and select the coverage that best suits you.
If you are aware of any physical or mental health issue that may affect you and/or others during the course, please speak in confidence to a member of YES staff at any time.
If you are prevented from completing your course due to injury or other medical reasons, YES Tours will not refund any portion of your program booking. It is up to you as an individual to make a claim on your personal travel insurance for any losses.
Be aware too, that if you are entering Canada on a Working Holiday Visa, the immigration officer who validates your visa at the border may limit your visa duration to the length of your medical insurance cover. So be sure to take out insurance for the full duration of your visa (and check with your insurance company if you can get a refund if you later cancel or reduce the duration of the insurance).
Please make your own flight arrangements. All flight arrangements are separate to your YES Tours WBSSU program. Vancouver International Airport is the closest major airport to Whistler, approx 2 hours drive away.
Please note that until we confirm the program start date we suggest waiting on booking your flights. Once dates are confirmed, be sure to allow yourself enough time to arrive and organize your SIN number (see below for details) before you travel from Vancouver to Whistler.
You will need to be in Whistler before Saturday, November 26th.
Upon arrival, you will be asked for an address on your landing card to be presented to Canadian Immigration. You can use the WB staff housing address: 4802 Glacier Lane, Whistler, BC, V8E 0C2.
If you have chosen to include the Meet & Greet add-on, please wait to book your flights until we can confirm the correct date to arrive at Vancouver airport.
WHAT DATE DO I NEED TO ARRIVE IN WHISTLER?
The start date of the program will be confirmed around the end of September. At this stage we are anticipating that it will start on or before November 26th, we will confirm the start date as soon as we can.
If you choose to arrive earlier and get all your ducks in a row that is completely up to you, and probably a great idea. Any additional nights’ accommodation will be at your own expense. Don’t forget that you will need to organise your SIN in Vancouver before you start – more info on this below.
HOUSE (staff housing) front desk is open 10am – 6pm, 7 days a week and closed on public holidays (including November 11th). They’re unable to check residents in outside of these office hours, so please plan ahead.
Remember you need to arrange your social insurance number (SIN) in Vancouver at the Service Canada office. See section on social insurance number below.
SKI & SNOWBOARD GEAR
Each person will need to have their own equipment consisting of appropriate skis and poles or snowboard, and boots. If you do not already have your own equipment, we recommend you wait until you arrive in Whistler. Our professional instructors will be able to give you valuable information and advice on the best equipment to fit you and your ability. As part of the WBSSU program you will also have access to some special discounts/pro-deals when you first arrive into Whistler.
We work with many of the best boot fitters in town to ensure that you are fitted with the correct flex, size, and style boots and that they are adjusted for both your comfort and to help your on-snow performance. Once you are here you will be able to demo some equipment and offset the cost against your purchase to be sure you get what works for you.
If you choose to bring equipment with you, please check with your airline as there may be an excess baggage charge.
We work with many of the best boot fitters in town to ensure that you are fitted with the best flex, size, and style of boots possible.
GET THE RIGHT BOOT FIT THE FIRST TIME
If you are a skier, do yourself a favour and get your boots fitted right the first time. Enjoy the comfort, performance and balance of a properly fitted ski boot. Not only will it improve your mood at the end of each day, you’ll be a better skier for it. With a boot that is fitted properly, your skiing will change. Sliding around in a sloppy boot leads to a whole host of problems both in your knees, back and overall ski style and ability. The same is true in something too small, too stiff and too painful. Proper fit in your boots means better response from your skis, improved technique and being more efficient in how much energy you expend skiing. And believe me, it’s worth it.
YES we can suggest two great boot fitters in town and we would be happy to book an appointment for you.
Ski Connexions – Barry Allison (YES pro as well as experienced boot fitter)
The first step in boot fitting is to match a boot to the shape of your foot. All manufacturers and models are different. Some boots are wide, some are narrow, some boots have lots of volume, some have minimal volume, some have higher narrower cuffs and some have lower rounder cuffs. Sometimes it can even come down to the angle of forward lean in boots that can make your fit different. It is essential to see the barefoot in the shell before knowing what you need. Barry creates custom foot beds and will work with liners to make the boot right for you. Re-shaping the shell is common and these adjustments can make a massive difference in the way you get the best performance out of your boot.
Let’s face it; ski boots are not made to flatter one’s foot! It is one of the reasons why it is worthwhile for people to come and get a free and honest consultation. Contact Barry to book an appointment.
The George McConkey fit – He analyzes your foot, asks what type of skier you are and then recommends which boot to buy. A lot of the time, that isn’t a boot that he sells (but he’ll tell you where to get it). Once you have the new boots, you book a time to come back and the real work begins. Working the shell is where George’s experience and skill really shine. He will completely rebuild a shell from the ground up. Re-drilling cuffs, punching, twisting, heating and moulding until it aligns and fits everything from your calves down to your feet. Once that’s done, it’s time for custom liners and foot beds. Two hours later you have a set of boots custom fit for your feet. After a couple of days of break in that may or may not require a couple of tweaks, the results are incredible.
CAN I AFFORD IT?
Prices range from $900-$1200 for a custom boot fit. It might sound expensive but remember – you will be in your ski boots pretty much daily for months on end! You want to be comfortable and get the best alignment from your boots to ultimately improve your skiing.
If you buy decent boots from off the shelf you would still expect to pay anywhere from $500-$900. This is stock standard boot and you don’t have the confidence of a guarantee that you have been put in the right boot that will work for you.
Work with the experts! If you would like to make an appointment with either of these guys email me to let me know.
WHERE TO SEND MAIL & CARE PACKAGES
The mailing system in Whistler is a little different to many other countries. Please check with Staff housing admin to find out the correct mailing procedure and let your family know. Do not send any packages to the YES office as we are unable to collect any mail at this address – it will be returned to sender due to unknown address.
WB STAFF ACCOMMODATION
As part of the WBSSU program, you will be staying in Whistler Blackcomb Staff Accommodation (HOUSE) for both the 4 week duration of the program and the remainder of the season.
All HOUSE buildings are fully equipped for self-catering. The building has a laundry facility and you will need to arrange for a laundry card at check in. You will need to purchase your own detergent.
You do not need to bring any linen, bath towels, or other bedding items – these will be provided to you when you arrive. A damage deposit of approximately $215 will be required before you arrive. Your first 30 days’ rent are also due before arrival – HOUSE staff will advise on this when they contact you before your arrival. Please note that the deposit and rent can ONLY be paid by credit card.
Note that you will be asked for rent even though you have already paid for the 4 weeks’ WBSSU course through YES. This is standard policy for staff housing. However don’t worry you are not double paying – the rent you pay now will be credited to your account to cover the month AFTER the initial 4 week course is complete. So you won’t pay any more rent until mid January.
You and your house mates are responsible for the cleanliness of your accommodations. It is expected that everyone be respectful to others and clean up after using the kitchen, bathroom etc. We recommend that each participant put away their personal belongings (i.e. laptops, tablets, cell phones, wallets, travel docs etc) before you leave your house. While Whistler is a very safe place, we suggest that you lock the door behind you and do not provide the door code/key to anyone unless they are living in your house.
We suggest budgeting CAD $30-50 a day for food, based on eating in some nights and eating out others. We strongly suggest all clients bring a credit card while travelling– it comes in handy in emergency situations. Speak to your financial institution about credit card options that work for you and your family. There are some great meal deals to be had and you can eat for less but this gives you a good guideline to help you budget.
While you are on-snow during the course, your group will eat lunch at one of the mountain restaurants. You should allow $15-$20 for lunch depending on your appetite. You can always prepare and bring your own lunch too. Breakfast and dinner can be prepared in house. Once you start working, as a WB employee you will receive some great discounts for food on the mountain and at WB retail locations through the village. Joining club shred (WB employees’ club) will increase your discounts around town too.
You will need a Canadian bank account to be able to get paid – see more details below on how to organize this. Once you have your account you may want to transfer money from home into this to use locally – we recommend using companies such as OFX. Using a Currency Transfer company like OFX is generally more cost effective: we’ve secured a special offer where you don’t pay any bank fees, and using OFX typically saves you up to 5% compared to your own bank or credit card exchange rates and fees. If you plan ahead before you arrive you can create an account with OFX so you will be able to transfer money quickly once you have your Canadian account.
WHAT SHOULD I PACK?
The following items are recommended to ensure you are best prepared for your Yes Program:
Essential items needed:
- thermal ski socks
- good quality waterproof gloves
- warm hat
- anti-fog goggles
- neck warmer/scarf
- thermal long underwear (top & bottom)
- second layer sweater
- third layer vest (if needed for those with only a shell jacket)
- waterproof pants and jacket (please see below for more information)
- snow boots (for walking in the village)
- a well fitted helmet is highly recommended for your safety on the slopes. It is mandatory for boarders doing CASI certifications to wear a helmet. A little FYI – here in Whistler everyone wears a helmet. The days of ‘helmets aren’t cool’ is gone and helmets are awesome is in! Safety is a huge priority for all of us – after all, we want to be able to ski and ride for the rest of our lives and protecting our head is key to that 🙂
Your on-snow gear needs to be good quality as winter temperatures in Whistler can fluctuate from 5°C to -20 °C throughout the season and can at times be wet. We suggest a Gortex fabric that is at least 15,000mm waterproof and breathable for your outerwear. Layering your clothing is the best solution to staying warm. It will allow you to adjust to the varying temperatures and changes in the weather. All the items suggested above can be purchased at many ski shops in Whistler. If you feel you need some suggestions, it’s worth waiting until you arrive and we can happily point you in the right direction. Discounts at many of the local shops are available to all YES Clients!
We also recommend you bring: gym clothes, warm casual clothes for après and lounging around the house, warm slippers for your accommodation as it is custom to leave all street shoes/boots at the front door, towel for swimming/gym.
Optional items – Small first aid kit for your own use, high factor sunscreen, certificates for any ski or snowboard qualifications. It will also be helpful to bring an up to date resume if you are planning on working upon completion of the course.
If you have booked the YES Meet & Greet package, your transport to Whistler is included.
If not, you can book your transfers directly online – visit http://www.ridebooker.com. You can save 5% with the promo code YESTOURSSNOW when you book. Once you have booked your transfer, be sure to email your arrival time to us.
Ridebooker can arrange a door to door service with their Whistler Shuttle which means that they have a representative meet you at the airport and you will be dropped directly to the front door of the accommodations. They also offer pick up in Vancouver if that is better for you (after you have your SIN in hand).
The easiest way to get from YVR airport to downtown Vancouver is using the skytrain, just follow the signs in the terminal when you arrive.
Alternatively you can book your transfer directly with Skylynx or epicrides coaches but both these options only drop at the bus stop in the village or Creekside and you would then need to walk or get a taxi to your accommodations … and that is not something you want to do with all your gear!
If you have booked the YES Tours Meet & Greet package, we will contact you with details of how to meet the group and we will transport you up to Whistler.
WHERE CAN I STAY WHEN I ARRIVE IN VANCOUVER?
There are lots of hotels in Vancouver. If you are looking for a hotel, just google search for cheap hotels and you will have an endless choice, although not all of them are cheap! If you are looking for a hostel there are also a few, but our previous guests have had a good experience with Samesun Hostel – check them out here.
SOCIAL INSURANCE NUMBER
The Social Insurance Number (SIN) is a nine-digit number that you need to work in Canada or to have access to government programs and benefits. It is confidential and should only be provided to your employer / government agents / your bank. Do not give this number to anyone else.
You will see on the website that it is possible to apply for your SIN online or by mail. Neither of those options will work for you as you will need to have your number immediately – it can take up to 6 weeks to arrive by mail, and this could affect your ability to start work. You should go with the in-person option as they will give you your number immediately.
SIN in-person process:
You should allow at least 3-4 hours to get your SIN number as you cannot make an appointment time – you simply show up, get a number and wait. It can take anywhere from 10mins to a few hours depending on how busy they are. If you don’t arrange your card in Vancouver or Squamish there is an office in Whistler but the hours are limited – view opening dates here. Note that these hours are usually when you are on-snow with the program so please don’t rely on being able to get your SIN in Whistler.
Note that Service Canada offices are generally only open Monday – Friday 8:30am – 4pm. If you arrive late in the day they may turn you away if you won’t be seen in time. Best to go in the morning if at all possible!
Please note: You will need to bring your passport and work permit / visa with you in order for Service Canada to issue you a SIN number.
There are various Service Canada offices in the Vancouver area but as most of you will stay at the Samesun hostel the below location is probably the most convenient location:
Check out the Service Canada website for more information.
SETTING UP A BANK ACCOUNT
You will need to have a Canadian bank account while working for Whistler Blackcomb– this is how you will receive your pay. The bank account can be set up in Whistler – there are lots of choices for financial institutions however we have found the TD Canada Trust is great for short term residents and their bank fees are not expensive.
You should pre-arrange an appointment to set up your bank account with TD Whistler branch prior to arrival. They are very busy at the start of the season. If you have a friend you can buddy up your appointments. Note that it is not easy to get a credit card here as a new arrival so you are recommended to bring one from home. Banks will issue you with a debit card only. Note that most banks will not give you an account if you don’t have a SIN number.
WHEN YOU ARRIVE IN WHISTLER
Staff housing (HOUSE):
Address: Building 1 – 4802 Glacier Lane, Whistler, BC V8E 0C2.
You will be contacted directly by staff at WB Staff Housing (known as HOUSE) before you arrive, likely in October. They will have you sign up online with them and pay your deposit and first month’s rent to them directly. Note this will cover your rent for a month AFTER the initial 4 weeks of the program. You will also confirm with them your arrival date, and if you have a room share request etc you should communicate that to them directly.
Check in – when you arrive in Whistler you should make your way to Staff housing administration building immediately to check in. Note that this is on the mountainside – great for skiing out in the mornings but not worth attempting to walk up there with your gear and luggage! Book the door-to-door shuttle or take a taxi from the bus loop.
HOUSE front desk is open 10am – 6pm, 7 days a week and closed on public holidays including November 11. They are unable to check residents in outside of these office hours unfortunately, so please plan ahead. If you know that you are delayed due to flight issues you might want to consider booking a night at the Whistler HI Hostel, but remember, availability is tight during November so be very careful with your planning. It may be easier to spend a night in Vancouver and come up the next morning.
At check-in you will receive your unit key, laundry card, linens etc. WB handle this procedure and all questions relating to staff housing should be directed to them. Remember, if you choose to arrive before the program start, any additional nights’ accommodation charge is at your cost. You will be required to pay these extra nights prior to arrival directly with HOUSE.
WHAT DOCUMENTS DOES WB REQUIRE AT CHECK-IN?
Again, THE MOST IMPORTANT factor you have to keep in mind is that BEFORE you head up to Whistler from Vancouver you MUST go to SERVICE CANADA and meet with a Service Canada representative to collect your social insurance number (SIN). YOU HAVE TO HAVE THIS IN ORDER TO START THE PROGRAM!
You will also need to set up a bank account in Whistler – WB do understand that you might not have your account details upon immediate arrival however you need to get these details back to them within a day or so upon arrival.
Whistler Blackcomb will require the following documents upon arrival:
• 1 piece of Photo Identification – passport or driver’s license
• Work Authorization/Work Visa – this will be issued to you when you come through immigration at Vancouver International airport – you should allow up to 2 hours for waiting time to meet with immigration on your arrival. Make sure you have your letter of introduction available, and that your letter includes your eTA number as you will need to present the eTA details before you are allowed to board your flight.
• Criminal Record Check – WB require the original or a copy – your clearance must be dated within the last 18 months.
• Canadian Bank Information for Direct Deposit – You will need to have a Canadian bank account so that WB can pay you once you start working. Whistler has a number of different banking institutions (TD Canada trust, Royal Bank of Canada, Scotiabank etc) YOU MUST make an appointment with the bank before you arrive (see setting up bank account above). Remember there are about 5,000 other international travellers coming into town around the same time so you need to be organized.
• Social Insurance Number (SIN) – This needs to be done in Vancouver before heading to Whistler. (see SIN CARD section above).
There are many shops, bars, and restaurants located in Whistler village. Public pay phones and internet access are readily available. There are two grocery stores in the village itself – the Fresh St Market is the larger of the two. Expect groceries to cost more than you are used to at home. Other services located in the village include ski/board shops, gym, physiotherapists, massage therapists, banks, liquor stores, clothing stores… the list goes on.
Eating out: There are many reasonably priced options for eating out. Check out the local free paper (The Pique) for locals’ discounts.
Bars: The legal drinking age in Canada is 19 – if you are planning on checking out the local night life while you are here, you will be require to show 2 pieces of ID, one of which will need to be photo identification. Expect to have your ID checked everywhere, even if you are well over 19. Carry it with you but take care not to lose it!
Getting around town: Whistler has a great bus system that can take you anywhere in the Whistler area. The price per ride is CAD$2.50 – you must have the exact change when you get on the bus. Monthly bus passes are available for purchase at various locations. WB also subsidise a free bus up to staff housing in the evenings. Be sure to pick up a map from any bus which will list routes and timetables. For further information check out BC Transit Whistler.
Taxi: The local taxi company is called Resort Cabs and their number is 604-938-1515.
Cash: You can withdraw cash with most credit or debit cards from the many ATM/cash points in Whistler Village and Whistler Creekside. Note that you will pay fees for ATM transactions unless you are at your own bank.
Tipping: In Canada you are expected to tip in bars, restaurants, hairdressers, and taxis. It is also customary to tip instructors on the mountain. The regular amount is 15% of your bill in restaurants or bars. In a taxi you can just add a few dollars to the bill. We recommend a tip of about CAD $20-$30 per person per week for your instructor. When you start work as an instructor yourself you’ll be very glad of the custom!
Mobile/Cell Phones: You can buy a local SIM card in Canada for your mobile/cell phone. Make sure it is unlocked for a new SIM card before leaving home. If you don’t bring your own phone you will be able to buy a pre-paid phone. Roger’s phone store is located in Whistler Village – your YES representative will be able to point you in the right direction. Other providers are available and if you want more choice you can also get a phone in Vancouver before you come to Whistler, or get one online. Just make sure to ask them for a Whistler local number.
Medical: Whistler Medical Centre is located in Whistler Village.
** The number to call in an emergency situation is 911
If you require emergency medical attention you will be required to pay CAD$700 or more upfront, before a doctor can see you. All expenses must be paid for at time of consultation. You will then need to claim this back through your travel insurance. Some insurance companies require to be contacted before seeing a doctor, so please confirm with your policy as to their requirements. It’s best to be familiar with your insurance policy before you need it in an emergency so check that out now! It also makes sense to leave a copy of your travel insurance documentation with your parents or another emergency contact
If you do not require emergency attention but require a local GP we suggest visiting:
The cost for the consultation will need to be paid for in full at time of visit – it will be approx CAD$125 – they will provide you with a receipt so you can claim this back through your travel insurance.
Chiropractic: Whistler Chiropractic located in the village offer soft tissue therapy and chiropractic treatment for better health and performance. Acupuncture also available.
Physio: There are a number of physiotherapists in the village – we like Back In Action. They have 2 locations on Main St in the village.
Gym: The local municipal gym is located in Alpine Meadows (a neighbourhood north of Whistler village) and is called Meadow Park Sports Centre. You can catch the bus there from the village. The sports centre has a large, fully equipped gym, pool, hot tubs, ice skating rink, and squash courts.
LUNA: stands for Late and Unique Nighttime Alternatives. These are activities for young people that don’t involve alcohol. LUNA activities include drop in sports, concerts, films, and other activities. It’s a great way to meet new, interesting people from around the world. Visit www.lunawhistler.com for a list of the week’s activities.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE PERKS YOU’LL RECEIVE AS A WB EMPLOYEE?
Club Shred: For $2 deduction each paycheque you can join this employee discount program. As a member you will get a variety of discounts in town – gyms, movie tickets, Vancouver Canucks games and many, many more. Like Club Shred on Facebook»
Retail: 25% off at all Whistler Blackcomb retail locations. (Please note that the discount percentage is off the full retail price of the item. No Staff Discount will be given on top of the sale price of an item). The Clearance Centre can be a great place to pick up affordable clothing and gear. List of WB Retail Shops »
25% off rentals before 1pm.
50% off rentals after 1pm (except during peak periods such as Christmas, President’s Week, Spring Break and Easter – it will just be 25% during the holiday periods)
25% off repairs with odd specials at 50% off
20% off at Tuning Centres ~Ski service is $25 and snowboard is $30 (could be more depending on damage).
Food & Beverage:
50% off at all market style restaurants. (For on Mountain restaurants discount applies all day when on shift or when not at work all day except between 12-1:30pm)
20% discount at Merlin’s, Dusty’s and GLC seven days a week (not including liquor).
Staff meal options at great prices when you are working. Note that if you are teaching kids lunch is included.
MEET & GREET ADD-ON
If you have booked the Meet & Greet add-on, we will contact you around early October to confirm the date you should arrive in Vancouver. Once you have booked your flight, send us your flight arrival details and our representative will meet you at the airport.
We will take you to your hotel in Vancouver, and there will be a social evening for the group. The next day we will transport you up to Whistler, stopping on the way for everyone to get their SIN number organised.
Once we arrive in Whistler, we will take you to HOUSE and help you to get checked in.
FULL SEASON ACCOMMODATION ADD-ON
If you have booked the Full Season Accommodation add-on, you won’t have to pay any rent for the duration of the season while you are working. You will be paid your wages each time without having any further rent deducted.
If you have not taken this option, your rent will be deducted directly from your wages before you are paid each pay period.