Readying for winter on a budget
Summer is a time for ski resorts to ready their mountains for the coming season. Unfortunately, because of the down economy, budgets are tighter and resorts must make tough decisions about where to invest in improvements.
Spokespeople for Park City’s three resorts said the key is to invest where it will best improve the guest experience.
Emily Summers, communications coordinator for Deer Valley Resort, said her company will invest $4.5 million in improvements this summer including replacing three snowcats, one winchcat and 10 snowmobiles.
To continue improving the resort’s carbon footprint and save energy, Deer Valley is replacing 40 air/water snowmaking guns on the upper mountain with more efficient models and adding 12 fan guns on the lower mountain, she said.
Coleen Reardon, director of marketing for Deer Valley Resort, said the resort has emphasized training and retaining staff to improve customer service during the recession and will continue this year.
"The mountain is in a good spot. There are some things we’d love to do, but our brand is really about service," she said. "We haven’t had to do layoffs and have been able to stick to the plan with investing in employees."
However, she said that strategy does not suggest they would ever "back off" from their responsibility in maintaining the mountain. The resort is popular for its snowmaking and grooming that’s why the company chose to make those fleet improvements this summer, she said.
Many mountain improvements that need to be ready for the opening of the Montage this coming winter were begun prior to the recession, Reardon explained, but some quad chairlifts will eventually need to be replaced with high-speed quads.
Expansion into Lady Morgan and other expansions in Empire Canyon have already been completed in anticipation of the new luxury hotel opening.
Better access to Mayflower is still a few years down the road, she added.
Summers said the resort will also refresh and update the interiors of the Empire Canyon, Silver Lake and Snow Park lodges.
Krista Parry, director of marketing and communications for Park City Mountain Resort, said one of the most noticeable improvements this summer is replacing lighting on Payday for night skiing.
The resort has been digging trenches into the run visible from Old Town to lay the ground cables. The new lights are brighter and more even but will also help the resort with its carbon footprint.
While the old lights were 1,500 watts, the new are 150 watts, allowing for an 82 percent reduction in energy consumption for night-skiing lighting, she said.
As of last Friday, the resort was still waiting on planning commission approval to perform additional glading on Crescent Ridge and create more Adventure Alley runs.
"They’re low- to intermediate-ski level that allows people at that level to experience tree skiing," she explained. "We’re always looking to enhance the downhill experience."
The resort also plans to install snowmaking equipment on Assessment, which has never had it there before.
"That is a lot of the locals’ favorite I know it’s my favorite so that will get more terrain off Silverlode open early in the season," Parry said.
Snowmaking will also be added near Three Kings Lift.
PCMR will also be doing some remodeling mostly restrooms in the Snow Hut and at the Summit House. Additional restrooms will be added to the bottom of Jupiter Lift and King Con Lift, she said.
The resort’s fleet will add two new snowcats, one wenchcat and snowmobiles.
"We’ll be able to groom up to 50 runs each night," she said. "We’re one of the only resorts that consistently grooms advanced, black-diamond runs every night."
Parry said her resort changed out a significant number of snowmaking guns last year and added the Crescent Lift the season before that.
This year, the company is looking to act responsibly in managing expenses, she said. But the No. 1 goal is still to provide a "phenomenal experience on the mountain." The enhanced snowmaking and new Adventure Alleys will provide that, she said.
The Canyons Resort has major changes planned for this summer, but spokesperson Elizabeth Dowd said they aren’t ready to lay all of them out this June.
Last Thursday evening the resort did announce the demolition of Smokies and the Old Day Lodge. Dowd said they aren’t ready to say what will take their place, but that big news will be coming later.
View Resorts make summer improvements in a larger map
Deer Valley Resort hired Jamo O’Reilly as the director of lodging operations to oversee its more than 450 residences.