Parkites’ reaction to sale of Deer Valley is muted by concern
The Park Record editorial, Aug. 23-25, 2017
Local reaction to the news of Deer Valley Resort’s sale to a multi-resort company has been measured. It is an honor, of course, to join the ranks of ski towns featuring the likes of Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows, Mammoth, Steamboat, Mont Tremblant, Stratton Mountain and others. But, until recently, residents have always taken pride in their resorts’ local ownership.
Not so long ago, Park City’s marketing materials touted the town’s claim to three unique mountains, each with its own distinct personality. There was ParkWest, where snowboarding pioneers found a warm welcome. There was Park City Mountain Resort that brought the World Cup to Utah’s slopes, arguably securing the state’s bid to host 2002 Winter Olympics. And there was Deer Valley, a family-owned jewel that set new standards for on-mountain elegance.
The owners of each were as unique and spirited as their resorts. They were also familiar faces on Main Street, at City Hall, at bars and in restaurants all around town, where they were treated to equal measures of abuse and adulation over every on-mountain adjustment.
That changed when Vail Resorts took over management of The Canyons, later purchasing Park City Mountain Resort and combining the two into the largest single ski area in the U.S.
Based in Colorado and publicly owned, Vail Resorts quickly made a series of dramatic changes that altered the ski industry’s already tumultuous terrain. Its multi-resort pass and rapid expansion left other resorts reeling and its stock soared. Park City, admittedly, basked in the attention and enjoyed a record-breaking season. But when Vail Resorts flexed its muscles and tried to trademark the town’s name, residents realized they were dealing with a different sort of entity.
Among many Parkites, though, there was a sense that Deer Valley had a different agenda: that it would remain independent. And that seemed to suit its discerning clientele perfectly.
But on Monday, they learned otherwise. In a carefully orchestrated announcement, Deer Valley informed its guests and the press that it had been acquired by a new group with an existing portfolio of 12 other ski areas in the U.S. and Canada. Since the rollout, Deer Valley has been reassuring guests and staff that there will be no changes, at least for the coming ski season.
Still, by and large, local reaction to the sale has been more concerned than congratulatory. Rightfully so. Deer Valley is a treasured part of the community – not only for its ritzy reputation, but because of the way it reflects the town’s independent spirit.