Park City — it’s not just for winters anymore
Early reports indicate lodging reservations for many in Park City facilities are well ahead of previous summers.
In the past, Park City has been known as a winter destination, but that stereotype appears to be quickly changing. Booking numbers reported by Deer Valley Lodging, Park City Mountain Resort Lodging, Resorts West, La Spree Resorts and the Park City Chamber/Bureau are getting higher every summer.
"Right now we’re showing that this summer is a little bit ahead of last year as far as booking go," Bobby Foster of Deer Valley Lodging said. "It’s a combination of events in town such as the Triple Crown Softball Tournament the NORBA mountain biking event, the jazz festival and a great concert lineup through to the end of August. I think it’s going to be a good summer."
With venues like Deer Valley and The Canyons, acts like Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, Kenny G, Bonnie Raitt, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir have lined up to play the Park.
Foster said one reason why more people are choosing Park City as a vacation destination is a stronger media push by the state of Utah, as well as local businesses, to get the word out about Park City summers.
"Each summer we’ve improved over the last five years each summer gets better and better," he said. "We have more going on as a summer destination, more people that come here who like it and come back, and now we have the state helping with a strong marketing campaign that wasn’t really there before."
Foster also said that everyone in Summit County benefits from a larger influx of vacationers to the area. He said the growth is perpetual as more people come to Park City, the more money businesses have to advertise and hold summer programs. More advertising and more programs mean even more vacationers.
PCMR report similar findings.
"Summer bookings are up 20 percent compared to what we had booked at this time last year," Reservations Manager Sharon Ottoson said. "June is pretty flat, but July and August are both up. The only time periods that are heavily booked for properties in town seem to be the softball weeks in July, but there are still condos available for those dates."
One concern for the hospitality community has been that higher gas prices might keep people away, especially those traveling considerable distances. Ottoson said so far that hasn’t appeared to be a problem.
"Our guests seem to be coming from all over, but Arizona, Nevada, Colorado and Texas have slightly more bookings than further afar, though we also have reservations from the east — Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, et cetera," she said. "There are also numerous reservations from the local market, like Salt Lake City, for weekend getaways. It doesn’t look at this point that the cost of travel is affecting our market too much."
Dane Christensen, Vice President of Marketing and Sales at Resorts West, said that even though their niche is with higher end clientele, he is preparing for a big influx during the first part of July when the Triple Crown softball tournament comes to Park City. Much like other resorts, Christensen said summer bookings at Resorts West are up as well.
"Summer sales are up, but it’s too early to put any sort of numbers on bookings, he said. "It’s a marked increased it’s noticeable but it’s not dramatic. We have an increase in groups and business reservations."
Although he said there might be people from Salt Lake City who, because of gas prices, choose to come to Park City rather than Sun Valley, Idaho, he didn’t think there would be a decrease in visitors from outside of Utah.
Bill Malone, Executive Director of the Chamber/Bureau, said because they are not the ones taking reservations, they only look back at how the numbers have been. So far the month of June has been behind visitor numbers from 2005, when Park City hosted a national cycling event.
He also said the Chamber/Bureau has been setting up events for the summer and advertising in magazines, such as those carried on airlines, in order to get the word out.
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Summit County Attorney Margaret Olson has decried what she called a lenient sentence in a child sex abuse case in which a 20-year-old reportedly attempted to impregnate a 12-year-old. The perpetrator was sentenced to 20 days in jail and 10 years of probation.