Last Updated on Saturday, 22 November 2014 11:19
Saturday, 22 November 2014 10:32
by Alfie Lau
The next time Roger Sloan comes back to Bear Mountain, he’ll need more than just his hiking and golf shoes.
A mountain bike, some tennis gear and full workout equipment should be in Sloan’s luggage because the resort which opened more than a decade ago is undergoing changes at a lightning pace.
Look out over the driving range and imagine what eight clay courts in a tennis dome might look like.
Well, that will soon be a reality as Bear Mountain and its owners, Ecoasis, have just inked a deal with Tennis Canada for the first courts of this kind in Western Canada.
Look to the right side of the driving range and you’ll see a leftover mountain bike obstacle from the Jump Ship Extreme Mountain Biking event held in October.
And when you look out over the 36 championship golf holes at Bear Mountain, you can’t help but notice where the old 10th hole was once situated. Bulldozers and heavy machinery are clearing and smoothing the land for the new Turnberry housing development, which is already selling into its second phase.
Bear Mountain has also recently inked two impressive golf deals.
The first is entering into an affiliate club partnership with Pacific Links International, an exclusive membership network that will enable Bear Mountain golf members to enjoy playing privileges at over 100 signature golf courses, including Southern Highlands and Dragon Ridge (Nevada), Pete Dye Golf Club (West Virginia), Royal Hawaiian and Kapolei Golf Club (Hawaii), and Dove Canyon (California).
The second is signing a deal to host the 31st Pacific Northwest Golf Association’s Mid-Amateur on Sept. 1-3, 2015 on the Valley Course.
That’s all part of the plan Ecoasis president Dan Matthews and his team has for turning what was just known as two great golf courses into Victoria’s great tourism destination.
“Ecoasis has a vision of this turning into a tennis, mountain biking and golf destination,” said Chris Currie, Bear Mountain’s director of golf sales. “Dan sees a bigger picture, not only of making this a great event destination, but of building one of the great communities on Vancouver Island.”
That bigger picture has seen summer fireworks shows, a rugged 10-kilometre cross country race and a growing rota of conferences at the Westin Bear Mountain hotel.
Perhaps the best measure of the excitement being created by Ecoasis at Bear Mountain is seeing the wide smiles on almost every employees’ face. After enduring a tough transition from the previous owners to being run by a trustee, Bear Mountain has emerged under Ecoasis as one of the best places to work for.
One of the ways Ecoasis is building for the future is investing in future golf stars like Sloan.
Sloan, 27 and just starting his first year on the PGA TOUR, has entered a sponsorship deal with Ecoasis and Bear Mountain to put their logos on his left sleeve.
Along with financial support, Sloan is also receiving the benefits of being able to vacation at Bear Mountain. “I love hiking and getting outside,” said Sloan during a media visit this week.
“There is so much going on there that when you drive up, it feels like you’re going to a ski village. You’ve got the rink, pools, fitness facility and everything you could ask for in a resort. I can spend days there doing so many different activities.”
Almost as important, as a newlywed, Sloan will be able to bring wife Casey along for some much needed rest and relaxation. “We’ve just got married and we haven’t had much time together,” said Sloan.
“She’s going to take a year off from her job and travel with me (out on the PGA TOUR), and when we have a break, we’ll come here.”
Sloan also took advantage of the Sante Spa and a hike down Mt. Finlayson to see spawning salmon in Goldstream Park. Nimbly running up and down the trails, Sloan has the fitness to attempt the tougher uphill hike up Finlayson the next time he’s at Bear Mountain.
Ecoasis chief financial officer David Clarke was happy to spend several holes golfing with Sloan and came away impressed with his humility and genuine good nature.
And during a sumptuous dinner in The Cellar, Bear Mountain’s showcase restaurant, Clarke is able to tell Sloan that any help he needs in securing accommodation while on tour is easier now that Sloan is part of the Westin and Starwood family.
Ecoasis is also sponsoring Vancouver Island golfer Riley Wheeldon, who was ‘Down Under’ playing the Australian Masters when Sloan was in Victoria. Wheeldon, who calls Comox home, will be at Bear Mountain soon enough and he may not be the last Canadian golfer who Ecoasis and Bear Mountain will be throwing support to.
“Our focus is on supporting good young B.C. golfers who just need a little bit of help to reach that next level,” said Jordan Ray, Bear Mountain’s Director of Golf Operations.
“We couldn’t be happier to have Riley and Roger on side. This is an exciting time for British Columbia and Canadian golf and we’re happy to be a part of it.”
By Alfie Lau
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