Park City Mountain Resort, Deer Valley to suspend operations (updated)

PCMR owner Vail Resorts announced the suspension of operations at its North American ski areas Saturday in response to COVID-19. Deer Valley Resort owner Alterra Mountain Company is also suspending operations at its resorts.
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The parent companies of Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort on Saturday announced plans to suspend ski area operations amid mounting concerns about COVID-19.

Vail Resorts intends to suspend operations at PCMR and the rest of its North American ski areas beginning Sunday through March 22, during which time the company will reassess the situation, according to a prepared statement from the company’s CEO, Rob Katz. The suspension also includes Vail Resorts’ retail stores. 

Meanwhile, Deer Valley owner Alterra Mountain Company will suspend operations Sunday at its North American resorts until further notice. The suspension includes food and beverage, retail and rental services. 

Vail Resorts’ lodging and property management operations were slated to continue but will not take new reservations during the suspension. The company, based in Broomfield, Colorado, intends to close its corporate offices and is asking non-essential personnel to work from home if possible. 

The company indicated it will pay its seasonal and year-round employees during the eight-day suspension without requiring them to use vacation or sick time. 

“Please know that this has been a fast-moving, constantly developing situation with new information from our communities coming to us by the day, if not by the hour, and we are trying to react as quickly as we can,” Katz said. “People may also wonder why we are not giving more notice ahead of this closure. We understand the challenges this creates, but our priority is to minimize any additional issues from operating in further uncertainty and to avoid potential crowding.”

Vail Resorts indicated purchases like lift tickets, equipment rentals and ski school bookings can be fully refunded. The Epic Pass and other season pass products are non-refundable and cannot be transferred to another season, according to the statement.

“Please know that we will get to everyone and appreciate your patience as our most immediate priority must be the health and welfare of our resorts and communities,” Katz said in the statement.

Alterra Mountain Company did not indicate whether its employees will be paid during the suspension. According to a statement, Alterra’s individual resorts will work with guests seeking to cancel their visits and receive refunds for hotel reservations and other bookings. 

“I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this short notice will undoubtedly create,” said Alterra CEO Rusty Gregory. “We look forward to welcoming you back to your mountains as circumstances improve.”

Woodward Park City also announced a closure Saturday evening, indicating the action sports and ski resort will halt operations until at least March 22.

“Suspending our operations is a necessary step for us to take in support of our nation’s efforts to limit the spread and risks associated with COVID-19,” said Shaydar Edelmann, the resort’s general manager, in a statement. “This is an unusual and dynamic situation, however, we continue to believe recreation in our sports provides a meaningful escape, which is what made this a difficult decision, but the correct decision for now.”

The suspensions came hours after the director of the Summit County Health Department advised people to avoid traveling to Summit County if possible. That recommendation was made as health officials announced the first known instance within the county of community spread of the coronavirus. Community spread is when someone has contracted the virus from an unknown source.

A Park City lodging industry figure on Saturday said the closure of PCMR will have broad effects on the community. He made the remarks prior to the Alterra and Woodward announcements.

The president and owner of the lodging firm Identity Properties, Rob Slettom, said cancelations have mounted in recent days. There had been 29 reservations cancelled in the 48 hours prior to the announcement of the resorts’ suspensions.

“This will be a very large impact,” he said. “Restaurants. Hotels. Property management. Retail.”

There has been widening concern in the Park City business community in recent days as the novel coronavirus has spread, cases were reported in the Park City area and worries about the economy deepened.

“This very well could be the end of the ski season,” Slettom said. 

The scheduled closing date for the 2019-2020 ski season at both PCMR and Deer Valley is April 12. 

Park Record reporter Jay Hamburger contributed to this article.

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