Hospitality leader takes the helm at Deer Valley Resort
December 18, 2018
Working in the hospitality industry has always brought Todd Shallan a significant amount of joy.
He thrives in the unpredictable days, the slew of challenges that are difficult to avoid and the near-constant opportunities to improve a guest's experience through small actions.
It is what has kept him hooked on the business for the past 35 years, and why he is eager to become the new president and chief operating officer of Deer Valley Resort.
Shallan is replacing longtime Deer Valley figure Bob Wheaton, who will officially step into a role as senior strategic advisor for Alterra Mountain Company in January. Alterra is the parent company of Deer Valley Resort.
The new Deer Valley leader has 19 years of experience with KSL Capital Partners, one of the entities that formed Alterra Mountain Company. He worked at resorts and hotels owned by the management company from San Diego to London.
Shallan got into the hotel and restaurant business as a 15-year-old boy in Pittsburgh. He worked as a prep cook, line cook and banquet cook at the management company Interstate Hotels. He grew to like the work, so he decided to pursue it as a career and attend a school for hotel management.
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His education led him to an eight-month internship in San Francisco, where he fell in love with what he said was an "international, cosmopolitan city." Once he graduated, he returned to the Bay Area to work at Westin Hotels and Resorts and fell in love again, this time with his future wife.
He hopped between jobs in Palm Springs, California; Boca Raton, Florida; and Phoenix before returning to the San Francisco area, all while rising through the ranks and starting a family of two kids. He was the general manager of a hotel in Berkeley, California.
He continued to travel for new positions, working as general manager of a beach resort in San Diego for 10 years and then moving to London to oversee several hotels in the area. His most recent position was chief operating officer of an indoor skydiving facility in Austin, Texas.
But he was ready to get back into an operating role, he said. In London, he felt removed from the hotels he was overseeing and in Austin, he missed working with guests.
He came to KSL Capital Partners and asked, "What next?"
When they told him about a possible position at Deer Valley, Shallan thought it would be an interesting opportunity. He had never managed a ski resort before, but he had skied since he was a kid in Pittsburgh. Plus, he had visited Deer Valley multiple times for ski trips because he enjoyed its service.
He was selected to fill the role earlier this year. Shallan started working alongside Wheaton in September, but Wheaton quickly handed him the reins. He has enjoyed solving problems and learning about the several moving parts behind a ski resort. Before opening day earlier this month, he witnessed the work that goes into opening a ski resort, which he said was impressive.
"There are 2,600-2,700 people who work here that are a fantastic group of people. To be associated and have the ability to be the person in the leadership role, that is a one-of-a-kind job," he said. "I'm pretty excited to be a part of that family."
He said it is nice to be leading a resort that is already running well, but believes there is room for improvement. The resort plans to improve its technology in the coming years, including the installation of wireless scanning technology gates to check passes at the ski lifts next season.
He said the après-ski experience could be enhanced by adding more dining options at the base of the resort, for example.
Shallan is also aware of the difficulty Deer Valley Resort employees have in finding seasonal housing, and he said the resort is continuing to look for options to house its workers. It currently has about 400 beds for its employees.
Coming from a hospitality background, he is most excited to get back to Deer Valley's hospitality roots, continuing to improve the service that has won the resort awards for several years.