Skiers and snowboarders looking to visit [R493R, Whistler Blackcomb] on a budget can do so now with new lodging. The HI-Whistler Hostel came to fruition as part of the Olympic Games legacy.

The facility, built for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, housed athletes as part of the Athletes Village. It opened as a hostel, operated by Hostelling International, in July.

"It's almost like a four-star hotel," Toby McLagan from the front desk told us. "The double private rooms have huge windows that you can see out for miles."

The 188-bed hostel offers three types of rooms: private rooms for one or two people with a queen bed and bathroom, private rooms with four bunks and a bathroom, and dorms with bunks, lockers, and shared bathrooms. Dorm rooms are separated into male, female, and co-ed. All rooms include linens.

Other facilities at the hostel include a lobby café that serves coffee and snacks, outdoor decks with mountain views, a media room with HDTV, a game room, free wireless Internet access, laundry, fully-equipped kitchen, and a gear storage room. The ski and snowboard storage uses a ski key locking system, and a tuning station is available.

A dedicated bus, which costs $2 CAN one way, runs from the front door to Creekside at the ski area in 8 minutes and to the village in 20 minutes. It starts running at 6 a.m., and the last bus returns at 3:15 a.m. "You can be 30-45 minutes from waking up to the hill, be there for fresh tracks, and party at night to your heart's content before coming back," said McLagan.

Rates vary throughout the winter season. Private rooms run $99-160 CAN per night. A bed in shared dorm rooms costs $30-39 CAN per night. Hostelling International members get discounted rates. The hostel even runs packages for preseason job seekers.

More information. Or call 866-762-4122.