Deer Valley ready to open its gates for 2019-2020 season
Deer Valley Resort was slated to open its 2019-2020 season Saturday morning with 35 ski runs, 16 chairlifts and lingering questions about the effect the Ikon Pass will have on the skier experience.
Resort spokesperson Emily Summers said the resort has invested $7.6 million in improvements ahead of this season, and that includes measures they hope will address concerns around overcrowding that popped up last year, the first that Deer Valley was included on the popular Ikon Pass.
Those improvements include radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology with new entry gates and electronic ticketing processes.
“(These) will allow us to monitor the number of skiers on the hill in a much more accurate way,” Summers said in an email to The Park Record. “In the past, we used a formula to count for season pass holder usage. Now we will know how many guests are on the mountain at any given time. It will also help us monitor traffic patterns for future improvements.”
Deer Valley will keep visitors better informed beginning this year, as well, with new digital signage at the resort’s base lodges that will feature real-time information on ticketing availability and pricing, lift operations, grooming conditions and other mountain and resort-related information.
As for parking? Summers said the Snow Park lots have been resurfaced to allow for additional spots, a measure intended to reduce street parking. The resort last year exceeded the number of days it is allowed by City Hall to use Deer Valley Drive for overflow parking from the Snow Park lots.
“In an effort to reduce single-occupancy vehicles and encourage carpooling among staff, we have partnered with Park City Municipal to support the Ride On Park City app,” she said. “We have (also) come up with a new snow removal plan so that we don’t lose a large number of parking spots over the course of the winter due to snow.”
Now for the fun stuff: Summers said Deer Valley is introducing a number of enhancements to its snowmaking system and can now boast of an additional four new snow cats in its grooming fleet.
“But it’s not just about state-of-the-art equipment to make our famed corduroy,” she said. “With 25 snow groomers on staff, 14 of which have been part of our crew for more than a decade, we’re able to groom 60-70 runs per night when fully open, a total of 170 working hours every single night.
“We groom more hours than we are open for skiing.”
Off the mountain, one of the more exciting additions this season, Summers said, is the debut of Club 1981, a membership-based lounge located in the Royal Street Plaza building in Silver Lake Village. Membership includes various amenities as well as up to two adult season passes and access to a private lounge.
Accounting for the Ikon Pass
Last year was the first year for the Ikon Pass, and so Deer Valley was not alone in adjusting to the new product. Summers said in keeping with the resort’s philosophy of limiting the number of skiers on the mountain to 7,500-8,500, the various Ikon Pass options included only five to seven days at Deer Valley, rather than unlimited access. Summers said attendance last year was not greatly affected by the Ikon Pass.
“Last season additional visitation was due to the incredible snowfall, which resulted in an increase in usage of all pass products, and the introduction of an additional pass product, the Ikon Pass,” she said. “Our ‘18-‘19 skier visits were up 14% over the previous winter but Ikon Pass visits accounted for just 15% of our day ticket skier visitation.”
Summers said Deer Valley will again ask Ikon Pass holders to reserve their visits ahead of time to avoid being subject to a sellout.
“No matter what pass a Deer Valley guest chooses to ski here on, they are all our guests and we hope to create the best possible experience for them through great guest service levels and the attention to detail we have been known for,” Summers said.
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