Behind the Scenes:
December 22, 2011
Not a creature may be stirring in most Park City homes early Christmas Day, but for many, that’s when work begins. Hundreds of resort employees in town come into work Christmas Day even as the resort guests are just unwrapping what Santa brought them.
Executive chef Jodie Rogers of the Snow Park and Empire Lodges at Deer Valley Resort said she can always tell that it’s Christmas Day just because of the drive into work. Rogers said the world seems quieter for a moment. Then she’s at work, getting ready for the day and the entire mood suddenly changes.
"It doesn’t feel like work," Rogers said. "There’s just so much excitement."
The moment she’s in the door she and her staff begin preparing a traditional holiday feast for employees.
Rogers said she and her kitchen staff prepare roughly 100 turkey breasts and more than 100 pounds of potatoes to distribute among the three lodges. The gravy is prepared by the gallon.
But it’s the little things that make it feel like Christmas, Roger said. The kitchen puts out a big bowl of chocolate candies for employees to grab as they head out in the cold.
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"Plus we’re still cooking for guests," Rogers said. "We have to be really organized and use oven space wisely."
Canyons Resort and Park City Mountain Resort offer the same holiday meal to their employees.
"A lot of employees usually come up on their day off and eat the meal with everyone who is working," said Park City Mountain Resort recruiter Steve Mullins. "We try to make it fun."
Mullins said lift operations employees like to bring in nuts, apples and oranges as a "stocking stuffer treat" that they give to other employees throughout the day.
"It really is a big, big family," he added.
Brinton Newland, a Canyons Resort concierge, remembers past jobs working in retail on Christmas Day. He also remembers hating it.
"It can be a real bummer heading into work at one of those jobs," Newland said. "Here at Canyons, it feels like another day, a laid back day where guests are enjoying themselves."
Canyons Resort feeds 500 employees at the base and another couple hundred working on the mountain Christmas Day.
Eric Stone, a bellman at the Canyons Resort Grand Summit, said the energy of Christmas is palpable, that it is just hanging in the air. After presents are opened, children like to show him their favorite toys as families begin to emerge for the day.
"There’s a wonderful mood in the resort even though we’re at work," Stone said. "Being away from my family can be hard, but the resort makes you feel like you’re a part of its family."
Like many other resort employees, Stone’s family is out of state.
Lift operations manager at Deer Valley, Paul Hedman, said he may be shoveling one day and training another, but one his most important responsibilities is keeping the morale high among his staff. And it’s not always easy. Hedman oversees a staff of 180 employees, many who have family members in another hemisphere.
"I moved out here from Minnesota, and I remember my first Christmas away from home," Hedman said. "I can relate to a lot of kids that may be experiencing their first Christmas away from home."
Despite surviving on long distance calls and care packages for family interaction, Christmas Day is still the one day where the employee morale seems to fall into place all on its own he said.
"They get together when they first get into town and they create these friendships," Hedman said. "I hear stories of after-hours Christmas parties. These kids make the most of it."