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Deer Valley plans summer improvements

SKYLER BELL, Of the Record staff

In May Deer Valley began work on its summer improvement projects, which include replacing a lift, improving Snow Park Lodge and glading across the entire resort. Resort President and General Manager Bob Wheaton said the projects will cost the resort over $8 million dollars.

"We’re doing it to continue to enhance our level of guest service and make Deer Valley a more pleasurable place to ski," Wheaton said. "More than anything, it’s really our desire to enhance our guests’ experience, not just about driving more revenue. What’s really important is that our guests have a good experience; from a business standpoint, if we continue to do that, the revenues will take care of themselves."

Wheaton, who will help the resort continue to celebrate its 25-year anniversary this summer, has been a part of Deer Valley since 1981 the same year it opened. He said he has seen Deer Valley grow into one of the most highly touted ski resorts in the world, and that this summer’s improvements will only make it better.

"As soon as the earth is dry enough after the snowmelt, our staff starts working on next season’s improvements," Wheaton said. "In an effort to remain the No. 1 one ski resort in North America an honor we don’t take lightly we constantly seek to improve our resort amenities. This year, that means replacing another one of our chairlifts with a high-speed detachable quad, freshening up some of the amenities at Snow Park Lodge and more."

One concern with the construction is that it will interfere with summer activities offered at the resort, which is no longer a winter-only destination.

"None of the work will interfere with any of our summer mountain biking, hiking, scenic chairlift ride or dining operations, which opened June 17th this year," he said. "We’ll be running our Wasatch chairlift at the mid-mountain area instead of the Sterling lift, with uninterrupted access to more than 50 miles of trails."

The Sterling lift has been there over 20 years, and will be replaced with a larger, faster lift that Wheaton said will change the traffic flow of skiers and snowboarders.

The new lift will make it easier for people having lunch at Silver Lake to get to the top of the mountain and will decrease the crowding.

While it is under construction, Deer Valley will provide guests with a shuttle to the Wasatch lift to make it more convenient.

In addition to the new lift, Snow Park Lodge will be expanded to include new restrooms on the slope-side of the building and improvements will be made to the employee cafeteria.

"Right now, if somebody is dining in front of the restaurant, the either have to go upstairs or downstairs to go to the restrooms, so the new restrooms will make it easier over the summer and winter," Wheaton said.

There will also be extensive glading, or selective tree cutting, around the resort, especially at Empire. Wheaton said the process makes the forest healthier and makes skiing the trees better.

Although the process has already started, Wheaton said it would continue until the weather forces it to stop this fall. The lift replacement has also begun, but work on the Snow Park Lodge won’t be started for a few weeks.

The lift will be completed in September and the lodge completed by October.

Deer Valley will also be replacing four Snowcats and one Winchcat with new equipment, and replace 50 resort and Summit Meadows Adventures’ snowmobiles with new sleds.

"We only keep our Snowcats for three years and the reason for that is dependability and we also want to have machines with the most up-to-date technology on them so it will provide the best performance possible," Wheaton said.

All of the new projects will add up to a "moderate" expenditure for the resort. Wheaton said that, when compared to the cost of summer improvements in recent years, this year will be "In the middle. We’ve had years where we’ve had higher capital expenditures and we’ve had years where we’ve had lower ones."

With new season passes going on sale last Saturday, buyers have the chance to enjoy a summer on the mountain. The new season passes can be used for activities throughout the summer, including lift rides. The summer concert series, which begins June 28 with Motherlode, will be a main attraction to the resort as well.

"The expansion on Snow Park Lodge will cause us to get creative because it’s front and center with the summer concert series, but we know that with the construction crew we have here we’ll be able to work around it," he said.


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