Mitt Romney delivered an economic stimulus package to Park City months before he would be sworn into office as president if he wins the White House in November.
The recent Romney-hosted gathering in Deer Valley pumped significant money into the Park City economy over the four days the group was in the city, a person with firsthand knowledge of the spending and a tourism official said.
It would be difficult to calculate the precise economic impact of the event, but the figure could top $750,000, perhaps by a by a wide margin, if all the spending in and around Park City was included, according to one estimate.
Lodging was likely the biggest spending category, as it is during other large events held in Park City like the Sundance Film Festival. Money also went to meals and shuttle services for the Romney supporters, spreading the spending to several sectors. Hotel, sales and restaurant taxes would have ticked upward, providing a boost to local governments.
And the event was held at a time of year when there is typically a lull in tourism before summertime crowds arrive in larger numbers starting around Independence Day. The timing made the gathering even more of an economic highlight since there was not another big-spending group headed to Park City had the Romney event not occurred.
"It's always hard to get things rolling here before the 4th of July, in terms of significant numbers," said Bill Malone, the president and CEO of the Park City Chamber/Bureau.
The organizers of the Romney event contacted the Chamber/Bureau a few months ago seeking assistance with securing lodging and meeting space, Malone said. He said Park City's selection as the location was based on Romney's longtime connection to the city. He once owned a home in Park City and spent some of his time locally while leading the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Malone said the media coverage also could boost Park City's stature as a tourism destination. Some of the people who converged on the city for the event, meanwhile, might have been first-time visitors who could return someday, Malone said. Others could have been impressed with Park City as a place to hold an event and decide to schedule their gatherings in the city, he said.
The event brought several hundred major Romney fund-raisers to Park City to listen to the presumptive Republican nominee as well as a roster of top-shelf figures in the party. The guest list included potential Romney running mates and former Cabinet members.
There were no public events, and most of the activity was centered in Silver Lake Village. There was tight security outside Stein Eriksen Lodge and The Chateaux at Silver Lake, the two properties where many of the sessions were held. Attendees were shuttled between the two hotels in golf carts.
Jeff Bennett, the president of the Park City Area Lodging Association, said the industry was excited the event was held in Park City. He said the gathering will have an impact on the overall summertime lodging numbers, but it will not be overwhelming.
The places where most of the people stayed -- Stein Eriksen Lodge and The Chateaux at Silver Lake -- enjoyed an especially lucrative few days, though. Russ Olsen, the CEO of the firm that manages both of the properties, estimated the event could have added between $500,000 and $750,000 to the Park City economy between spending on lodging and meals. He said the St. Regis Deer Valley and the Montage Deer Valley also hosted some of the people who traveled to Park City.
"It was all hands on deck. We had to have extra staff on for this event," Olsen said.
He said it was the largest one-time summer happening ever held at the properties. More than 250 rooms between Stein Eriksen Lodge and The Chateaux at Silver Lake were rented for two or three nights each, according to Olsen. The reservations were made in the third week of May.
He declined to discuss what sort of group rate the organizers received. The rack rates at this time of year at Stein Eriksen Lodge range from $200 to $350 per night while rooms at The Chateaux at Silver Lake run between $150 and $250 per night, he said.
"It brought a lot of economic benefit to the entire community. It's a blip, a large blip," Olsen said, adding, "That's a once-in-a-lifetime thing."