Improved Deer Valley charges into ski season
For Bob Wheaton, president and general manager of Deer Valley Resort, running in place is the same as moving backward. It’s of crucial importance, then, to improve the resort’s offerings for guests each year.
Wheaton believes Deer Valley has done just that for the upcoming ski season. Among the improvements he touts are a new restaurant — The Brass Tag, located at the Lodges at Deer Valley — improvements to the snow-making system and a more refined backcountry skiing experience, among others.
"Ski seasons are a lot of fun, and they’re also a learning opportunity every year," he said. "If we are to continue to be successful, we need to pay attention every year and go through the season with our eyes open, looking for opportunities to provide a better product for our guests.
"I would like to think it’s a combination of a number of things, not actually one big thing that we’re hanging our hat on. It’s a number of big things."
One of the most visible new features is The Brass Tag. Billed as offering a unique twist on comfort food, the restaurant cooks all of its menu items on a pizza oven visible from the dining area. Just months after its opening, the restaurant has already established itself as one of the resort’s best dining options, said Emily Summers, communications manager at Deer Valley.
"We’ve had really good feedback, in terms of guests staying at the hotel, as well as locals," she said, noting it will expand its hours, opening daily at 3 p.m. starting Dec. 6. "It’s an option that’s open for dinner year-round, and it has kind of a unique menu. People seem to really enjoy how diverse it is, as well as the atmosphere with the open kitchen."
As far as the actual experience on the slopes, Wheaton said skiers will notice changes there, too. Workers spent much of the summer in the mountains refining the resort’s off-piste offerings.
"The off-piste skiing this winter is going to be noticeably better this winter than it has been in the past," he said. "And that’s always been one of our trademarks. The powder holds so well that you can get fresh tracks a couple days after a storm, and the work we did on the mountain is going to make it even better this year."
Snow-making also has been improved, as equipment has been updated and added. Summers said Deer Valley considers snow-making its insurance policy to ensure skiing conditions are good regardless of Mother Nature.
"We’ll hear a lot, ‘You had the best snow coverage over Christmas,’" she said. "Or ‘The grooming was in the best shape.’"
A new ski ticket office has been added near the Silver Strike Express chairlift to serve guests lodging in the Flagstaff and Empire Canyon area.
"They would have to commute to a ticket office if they’re staying in condos in that area," Summers said. "So it’s just adding another service where people in that area have access to buy their day ticket."
Additionally, the conveyors on Wide West, the resort’s beginner area, have been realigned for ease of use.
"We’re just trying to create a better area, in terms of less walking uphill and making that progression a little easier," Summers said.
Other changes at the resort include expanded offerings at the resort’s artisan cheese facility and a renovation of its Signatures store on Main Street.
Wheaton acknowledged larger changes may be on the horizon. Plans are currently in the works for a gondola from the Old Town transit center on Main Street that would take guests to either Silver Lake Lodge or Snow Park Lodge. Additionally, an expansion of the resort near the Mayflower lift is in the works.
However, there is no current timetable on when those projects might be finalized.
"Those projects are really on the front of the stove," Wheaton said, adding that there will be no change this season to the customer experience as a result of Deer Valley’s recent acquisition of Solitude Mountain Resort. " But we don’t feel like we need to be in a real rush."
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