Tribes aim to go for the gold during 2010 Olympics

EVERETT — When the Olympics come to Canada in 2010, members of the Tulalip Tribes think their new resort will benefit.

“No question about it. They’re out of rooms in Vancouver and Whistler. The expectation is rooms to the east and south will now fill up,” said Brett Magnan, vice president of Tulalip Casino Resort.

The winter Olympic games will be held in Vancouver, B.C., nearly two hours north of Everett. But Vancouver and nearby towns can’t house the roughly 7,000 athletes, 10,000 journalists and hordes of spectators expected to show up for the 2010 games. Visitors will fan out around the city. And Magnan believes some may be willing to make the 115-mile one-way trip between Vancouver and Tulalip for lodging.

Rooms to the south could fill up faster, as the weather usually is more reliable between Seattle and Vancouver than between Vancouver and the mountainside cities to the east, Magnan said. He added that the Tulalip Casino Resort is participating in training to be certified as a SuperHost hotel, meaning a preferred provider to the Vancouver games.

Tulalip guests could take advantage of Amtrak routes between Everett or Mount Vernon and Vancouver.

In an effort to snag some of the area’s visitors, Snohomish County created its SnoGold 2010 committee, on which Magnan serves.

Amy Spain, with the county’s tourism bureau, doesn’t expect serious Olympics watchers, the ones with tickets every day, to stay in Snohomish County. The two-hour drive or long train trip each way will deter the Olympics fanatics. But those with tickets to only a few events, perhaps on a Monday or Friday, may come down to the county to explore.

Overall, Spain said she thinks the county will see an upswing in visitors for the games, even if many are just passing through on the way to or from Vancouver.

“We’ll see some of the travelers who want to stop and stay the night before the border crossing,” she said.

Many of those travelers will look for “moderately priced” lodging in the county, especially if they’re planning to stay in Vancouver for the games. Visitors like those aren’t the ones the Tulalip Resort will attract.

Instead, Spain said, the new resort will see a different type of traveler during the winter games: Canadians fleeing the crowds.

“The phenomenon has occurred in every U.S. city that has held an Olympic games,” she said.

Canadians living in Vancouver or in the surrounding area may take vacation time and escape south during the Olympic games. The Tulalip Resort offers the kind of refuge many will be seeking: a place to play, shop and relax away from the added traffic and crowds an Olympics draws.

“That’s a very real market,” Spain said.

Herald reporter Eric Fetters contributed to this report.

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