Deer Valley sees ‘pent-up demand’ as it readies for a socially distanced ski season
The 2020-2021 ski season at Deer Valley Resort is starting to warm up in the heat of the summer.
The leader of the resort in a recent appearance during a City Hall-hosted online event said Deer Valley is taking lodging reservations for the next ski season from people in various parts of the U.S. Todd Shallan, who is the president and chief operating officer of Deer Valley, said the top five states for reservations are California, New York, Texas, Colorado and Utah. Shallan added that a business plan relying on regional crowds is not sustainable in the long term.
“I’ve had conversations with people who have said ‘Well, if I can’t fly there from California, I’ll drive. It’s only 10 hours. And I’m going to be there for a week or two weeks, so it doesn’t really matter, I can drive,’” Shallan said.
He predicted there will be crowds at Deer Valley for the ski season made up of local people and skiers from out of town. He also acknowledged there will be limitations based on capacity and ensuring social distancing.
“We will certainly prioritize season-pass holders and will certainly prioritize, you know, local guests as much as we possibly can. But we still have a bunch of lodging in this community that needs to be filled,” Shallan said. “And there’s a lot of people that depend on out-of-town visitors in our community, and our business community. So, there’s got to be a mix of both in order for all of us to be successful.”
Shallan said season-pass sales for the upcoming ski season are strong, which he described as a “great indicator” of the winter. He said lodging reservations for the ski season are also strong and another indicator for the winter.
“We know there’s a lot of pent-up demand. We just want to make sure that we accommodate that demand as safely as we can,” he said.
Shallan described that Deer Valley has not crafted the detailed plans for the ski season yet even though there are many questions about the season, such as the possibility of limiting capacity and social distancing.
Shallan’s comments followed shortly after the CEO of Vail Resorts, the Colorado-based owner of Park City Mountain Resort, addressed the upcoming ski season in a call with Wall Street analysts. Shallan’s comments and the broader ones by Vail Resorts leader Rob Katz provided the Park City community with some of the first direct information from the industry about the upcoming ski season since the spread of the novel coronavirus forced an early end to the 2019-2020 season.
The comments from the two are important even months before the ski season is scheduled to open as they provided at least an early glimpse of what skiers, snowboarders and businesses tied to the ski industry could expect as the season begins for the resorts in November and December.
The chief operating officer of PCMR, Mike Goar, appeared with Shallan during the recent online event. In his comments, Goar said there is an uncertainty regarding air travel and how the ski season could be impacted. Goar agreed with Shallan’s assessment that the local industry cannot rely exclusively on people who live in the region.
“Our business is not sustainable to operate into the future on solely a drive market. That doesn’t work for any of it,” he said.
Goar reinforced the earlier comments from the CEO of Vail Resorts as he spoke about the Southern Hemisphere’s ski season, which is beginning shortly. Katz in his recent comments spoke about learning from the ski season in the Southern Hemisphere, where Vail Resorts has properties. Goar said he is “generally optimistic” as the ski season starts in the Southern Hemisphere, saying operating procedures and social distancing will be monitored.
“We need to learn from the Australian resorts and how they’re managing crowds,” he said.
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Tourism revenue increased month over month this summer, the Park City Chamber/Bureau reported, but lodging numbers are still off 22% for December. Officials reported a recent uptick in bookings, though, pointing to a modicum of certainty after ski resorts announced their COVID-related opening policies.