What’s in a name
On Wednesday, the new brand for the combined Park City and Canyons resorts was revealed. It was an odd affair. I mean, who goes to a logo unveiling? Everybody. The place was packed, with overflow in the halls and balcony.
I would have attended even without needing material to fill this corner of the page. Without being able to explain it, I felt like I needed to be there and see this milestone in person. I’ve been through all the phases of this, from Treasure Mountain and Parkwest to PCMR and The Canyons, and finally The Canyons. Last year, the two resorts had a common pass, and the integration began. Now, it’s a done deal. After a year of shacking up, they are officially married. We’ve all wanted an interchangeable pass for years. I don’t think anybody would have predicted this.
The overflow crowd was mostly older folks (like me) with long connections to one or both of the resorts. There was a guy in a "Parkwest" baseball hat, and people who had run lifts and taught skiing years ago. It was people whose faces I recognize from years of skiing here, even without knowing names. They wanted to see the re-branding in person for the same reason I wanted to be there. There was a sense of closure as well as the excitement and trepidation of a new beginning.
There was a short video with some great images from the Treasure Mountain and Parkwest days. The Wolf Mountain era was conspicuously absent. At that point, the whole event began to feel like my cousin’s third wedding. The first husband was unavoidable because their children were there. But there was no reason to bring up the second guy and spoil the event. Maybe this time will be different.
After the video, we got the big reveal of the new logo. The new name and brand is a nice combination of the two identities. The Canyons’ infinite powder-turn squiggle has turned red, and the name "Park City" goes with it. At first it’s a little jarring, as if the word Microsoft appeared under the Apple logo. Very familiar, but isn’t it supposed to be orange? It really does a nice job of reflecting the combination of the two. It’s all one Park City. The base of the Canyons is now Canyons Village at Park City. (People who live there still can’t vote in the City elections.)
The crowd reaction was something of a shrug. Longtime PCMR loyalists seemed to think the inclusion of the Canyons squiggle was giving too much deference in that direction, and Canyons partisans seemed hurt that any verbal reference to Canyons was expunged. A spokesman pointed out that the sans serif font was the same typeface used in the former Canyons logo. Well, when you put it that way. The Park City brand is near the top in the industry. They weren’t about to abandon that and re-name the place "Snowflakes & Co." with a drooling St. Bernard.
I like it, and bought a T-shirt as I exited through the gift shop.
It really will be unified. Employees across the whole operation will be in the same uniforms. A single trail map, big as a bed sheet, will show the whole thing from McConkey’s to Murdock. The Snow Hut has finally been replaced with a new 500-seat restaurant called "Miners Camp." Red Pine lodge gets an additional 200 seats. Add in the deck seating, and they are apparently expecting 1,000 more guests for lunch, really several times that, when the tables turn over. All without adding a single parking place. I tell you, it’s just a planning miracle.
It’s great to have the hostilities ended. Vail knows what they are doing and runs top quality resorts. For better or for worse, we are now the biggest resort in the country six and a half miles from tip to tail. It will be fun to have that much terrain at our disposal for $550. If you can’t find something to play on in all that, you’re not trying.
With the acquisition costs on Canyons and PCMR, $50 million in new hardware, some legal fees here, a hotel management contract there, Vail has invested pretty close to half a billion dollars here. There’s something unreal about it all. Within my lifetime, you could have bought a house for the price of a couple of Epic Passes.
I’m still agnostic about the whole thing. For the business end of the deal to work, Vail probably needs to double skier days. Ski season isn’t getting any longer, so it’s going to happen by filling in those slack times that locals have treasured. I keep telling myself it’s just a different logo, but I know it’s a different world.
Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column since 1986.
A reader involved in addressing mental health in Summit County applauds Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz and his wife Elena Amsterdam for their efforts to help mountain towns wrap their arms around the issue.