Deer Valley Resort welcomes new president
It’s been an autumn filled with change at Deer Valley Resort. It announced the departure of President and Chief Operating Officer Todd Shallan in October, then welcomed his replacement with just a couple of months before the first full winter under the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic.
Jeremy Levitt, who came to Deer Valley from another Alterra-owned company, CMH Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures, said he is excited to lead the resort into an unprecedented period.
Levitt’s background is in the financial world. He began his career working in mergers and acquisitions on Wall Street, then shifted to private equity. He spent time in Austria managing investments for a bank there before returning to the States and attending business school in Philadelphia. He started working for a hedge fund in New York but after two days realized it wasn’t for him.
“In Austria, it seemed that most people worked to live versus living to work, which is primarily what I had been exposed to in New York City,” he said. “The seed was planted during my time in Europe, that perhaps I should work in an industry that I was truly passionate about.”
It was during his time in Austria, skiing the Alps on weekends, that Levitt said he fell back in love with skiing. While he was in business school, he spent his free time thinking of outdoor, resort and action companies he wanted to work for.
“I began cold calling and emailing executives at these companies and flying out to California, Colorado and Utah to have meetings,” he said. “I ended up connecting with executives at Intrawest Resorts.”
At the time, Intrawest, one of the firms that eventually became Alterra Mountain Company, owned six ski resorts in North America as well as CMH Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures. He worked first at the company’s headquarters before moving to Banff in Canada to take over CMH. After five years there, he was approached this fall to take the reins at Deer Valley Resort.
“I saw a lot of parallels between Deer Valley and CMH Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures,” Levitt said. “They each are the gold standard at what they do, both companies have a rich heritage and celebrate their founders’ vision, painstaking attention is paid to the details and the way the guests are taken care of and how the staff are treated all really resonated with me.”
Even with the opportunity coming only a couple of months before the season, Levitt did not hesitate to accept.
“It is rare in life that you get to work at a company that truly is the best at what they do,” he said. “And Deer Valley’s exhaustive list of awards certainly supports that notion. The pride you have in being a part of such a company makes getting up and going to work every morning that much more motivating.”
Also motivating for Levitt, he said, was the location.
“On a personal note, I have always wanted to live in Park City, having heard so many great things about the community,” he said. “My wife and I also wanted to get back to the U.S. to be closer to family, since we just had our second daughter and both girls are under the age of 2.”
Levitt has been at Deer Valley now for seven weeks, during which time he said he’s been getting to know the different departments and their people and hosting town hall-style meetings so the employees can get to know him and his leadership style and ask any questions they might have.
It’s an unprecedented winter ahead, but Levitt said Deer Valley, which was slated to open its season Saturday, is ready for it.
“The mountain is in fantastic shape for this time of year and we are excited to welcome our first guests this weekend,” he said. “The Deer Valley team has worked tirelessly during the last eight months, poring over every single aspect of the guest experience in order to develop protocols and procedures to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 while maintaining their continuous dedication to providing an exceptional guest experience.”
The biggest obstacle facing Deer Valley now and for the immediate future is, of course, the coronavirus pandemic. After that, though, Levitt said ensuring a smooth transition and “alleviating the angst that accompanies a leadership change” is probably the biggest task for the resort.
“This is bound to happen, particularly so when there is a plethora of long-tenured staff that care deeply about the company, which Deer Valley has in spades,” he said. “People want to know the direction that you are planning on taking the company and what changes will be made.”
Levitt said it would be “presumptuous” of him to think he has those answers just two months into the job. He said Deer Valley’s staff has done “an amazing job” maintaining the resort’s reputation as a world-renowned destination, and his goal is to further that effort where he can.
“I look forward to working alongside the team to steward our founder Edgar Stern’s vision and continue building upon the storied legacy of Deer Valley.”
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Park City Mayor Andy Beerman on Friday morning predicted it will be an “incredibly busy summer” in the community as people flock to the outside recreation options in the area.