Local resorts happy with rankings in Ski
Ski Magazine’s annual top 50 resorts list is generally viewed by skiers and resort employees as the who’s who in the industry. If that’s the case, then Park City is the crème de la crème of ski towns.
In their recently released October issue, Ski listed Deer Valley No. 2, Park City Mountain Resort No. 5 and The Canyons as No. 15, and resort personnel don’t take the rankings lightly.
"We are very excited," said Coleen Reardon, director of marketing at Deer Valley. "It’s always a nervous time of year when those come out, but we’re always happy to remain in the top three. For a resort of our size, we do about half the skier visits than our competitors at that level."
The rankings, which are based on the results of an 18-point, resort-specific survey sent to select Ski readers. Readers rank the resorts at which they have recently visited on everything from service to weather.
Deer Valley, which Ski listed as the top resort last year, dropped one spot, but Reardon said they are still happy with the results.
"Of course you always want to be at number one, but maintaining that two years in a row is very difficult," she said. "We were very happy to be listed where we were and will continue to build on this success."
Deer Valley took the No. l spot in four categories: service, on-mountain dining, grooming and weather.
"Service, grooming and on-mountain dining are our specialties," she said. "We’ve held the top spot in those categories since these rankings started and keeping those is an important designation for us."
She said that winning a category such as ‘weather’ is less important, because the weather is not only out of their control, but both of the other Park City resorts enjoy the same conditions.
"The same thing happens with accessibility," she said. "Some times we’ll be above the others and other times they’ll be above us. It’s funny."
Reardon said the rankings are important because they validate the hard work of the Deer Valley employees and the travelers who make the resort their destination of choice. But, despite winning top billing in four categories, she said it’s the packaged experience at Deer Valley that makes it successful.
"It’s the product we deliver," she said. "We go for a general, quality ski experience."
Krista Parry, spokesperson for Park City Mountain Resort, said being in the top five for two straight years is a privilege for the resort.
"We were definitely honored to remain in the top five," Parry said." We broke into the top five last year and we were honored when they told us we kept our top five position this year. It’s a coveted position. It tells us that we’ve been focusing on the right things."
"It’s our goal to stay in the top five," she said. "We set a goal to get into the top five over a five year period, and we were able to do that in two years."
PCMR didn’t finish with any No. 1 rankings, but rather retained it’s overall No. 5 spot through consistency and quality. Parry said the PCMR employees are what make that consistency possible.
"It’s the employees we have on board that allow us to remain in the top five," she said. "The people who come here are passionate about what they do and guests pick up on that. They have so much energy."
"Secondly, our grooming sets us apart," she said. "Nobody else in the industry does the level of grooming that we do, such as grooming the black diamond terrain that we groom on a nightly basis."
Parry also said PCMR’s terrain park and nine bowls make for a great experience for skiers and snowboarders of all levels.
In order to retain their top five status, Parry said PCMR has unveiled an online planning assistant at http://www.mymountainplanner.com.
"It is an avenue where customers can come and take a customized tour of the resort," she said. "They can put in what kind of terrain they want to ski and their level as a skier and it will tell you where to go. It also gives you advice on what times to ski certain areas and certain lifts. It will allow people to explore more of the mountain and to have a better experience. They can ski the mountain like we ski the mountain."
At The Canyons, Vice President of Marketing Todd Burnette said everyone was pleased with their showing in the rankings.
"We dropped one spot from 14 to 15 and from our standpoint that we’ve only been in existence for nine years we’re extremely proud to be in the top 15," he said. "It’s not the only way we measure our business for sure, but anytime you have 6,000 destination skiers weighing in their opinions, we’ll listen to what they have to say."
Burnette said the resort is improving some of the areas that have been rated as weaknesses on past lists. The Canyons will open more mountain this winter, add a larger main lift to fight crowding and expand and improve their on-mountain dining.
"Just because we’re happy with the results doesn’t mean we’re happy where we are," he said. "We want to keep moving up. We jumped eight spots in the rankings last year, and it’s unrealistic to think we’re going to do that every year, but we definitely want to keep moving up the list."
Although he admits there are things to improve, he said the size of the mountain and variety of its terrain help to garner such high recognition.
"I think our terrain would be our biggest strength. Being the biggest resort in Utah, we have got more variety than anyone else, I would argue. People can find something they like in 3,700 acres."
After the Winter Olympics came to Park City in 2002, skier days across the state have been on the rise, a trend that Burnette said bodes well for local resorts. He said the more Utah resorts that get into the top half of the list, the better.
"I really look at it that the more the merrier on the list as far as Utah is concerned," he said. "It gives the destination skiers a bigger reason to come to Utah and ski. If someone comes to Utah to ski, they’re likely to spend at least one day at The Canyons, so that’s great."
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