Deer Valley Resort leader announces departure (updated)
The head of Deer Valley Resort is leaving his post, a significant leadership change at the ski area and one that comes two months before a ski season complicated by the coronavirus pandemic is set to begin.
Todd Shallan, the resort’s president and chief operating officer, will move into a leadership position in the newly formed hospitality division within Alterra Mountain Company, the Colorado-based firm that owns Deer Valley. Shallan informed employees of the move in a staff letter Tuesday, and the resort confirmed his departure later that day.
Shallan, who has led Deer Valley since 2018, said in an interview that the chance to oversee Alterra’s food and beverage, lodging and club operations, a role that aligns with his background in the hospitality industry, was too appealing to pass up.
“Quite honestly, I love it at Deer Valley,” he said. “It’s a tremendous place. I had really no intention of going anywhere until this opportunity came up.”
Alterra has named Jeremy Levitt, an executive at one of the company’s other properties — CMH Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures — as Shallan’s replacement. He is slated to begin Oct. 19.
“Jeremy is going to be great,” Shallan said. “He’s a really dynamic personality. I think the team will welcome him.”
Levitt will take the reins at Deer Valley during an unprecedented time as the resort confronts the task of getting the lifts turning while keeping guests and staff safe after the coronavirus pandemic forced an early end to the most recent ski season.
Shallan acknowledged that significant changes to operations will be required this season but said he is not concerned that the leadership change is coming so close to the beginning of winter.
“The reason is, if I do my job well I can leave for a month and nobody would know I’m gone,” said Shallan, who plans to remain at the resort through opening day, scheduled for Dec. 5. “I think that we have such an amazing team at Deer Valley, from our senior leaders down to every one of our hourly employees. We set up plans and our team enacts those plans, and in some regards, on a day-to-day basis from the customer experience, it’s irrelevant who the leader is.”
Shallan will depart after a short but influential tenure that marked a period of transition for Deer Valley beginning with its acquisition by Alterra. He replaced longtime resort chief Bob Wheaton, whose steady hand over three decades helped the resort ascend to its lofty status, and Shallan characterized the internal operations over the last few years as including “a lot of change for an organization that hasn’t had a lot of change in 30-some-odd years.”
Most of the change, he said, has been positive. He pointed to accomplishments such as a multi-million-dollar investment in the resort’s technological capabilities aimed at providing a better experience for guests on the mountain and off.
“We were pretty far behind in the technology world, and we’ve changed out a tremendous amount of systems in the resort,” he said.
Deer Valley, though, has also drawn criticism in recent years, most frequently from skiers displeased with increased crowds at the resort, a trend that coincided with the introduction of Alterra’s Ikon Pass.
Deer Valley saw a 13% increase in skier visits during the 2018-2019 winter and was trending upward last winter, as well, before the pandemic derailed the season, but Shallan attributed the growth to broader industry trends rather than being solely the result of the Ikon Pass or changes the resort has implemented. He said non-Ikon season pass sales were above average each of the last two winters, and the average skier was using their pass more often.
“The reality is Deer Valley is busier, but so is the ski industry in general,” he said.
Despite the increased crowds that have frustrated some skiers, Shallan said Deer Valley continues to offer the kind of top-notch experience it has long been known for and that the resort is well-positioned for the future.
“We are using technology and other things to up our game and stay current and relevant with tomorrow’s customer,” he said. “Because today’s customer may not be tomorrow’s customer.”
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