With this winter’s amazing snow conditions – it goes without saying, it was also a tremendous - even record - season for Deer Valley Resort. This was Deer Valley’s first year as an IKON resort – but resort officials don’t believe that’s the only reason the resort was busy.
Deer Valley marketing director Coleen Reardon reports the resort saw a 14.5% increase in paying customers. That includes IKON pass holders, those purchasing a ticket at the lift window as well as season pass holders…Without a way to scan passes, she says they really don’t know how the break down between skiers works – but with the installation of a multi-million dollar RFID system, she says they’ll start collecting that information as soon as next season.
“Next year we're going to have RFID - direct to lift - which will be really wonderful for our guests and for us, for data, so we can capture - we can plan better for improvements, message better to our guests about mountain flow, but it will also give us great information on how many days our season pass holders are skiing – we don’t know. We have a formula - we guess,” she said. “And then there's also you know, there’s a few complimentary season passes out there. We don't know how many days they’re skiing so in a lot of ways it's going to be - it's going to be really good for the company.”
The resort didn’t sell out any more days than other year – there were just six sold out days this season. But the resort was busier on other non-peak days. Reardon says a rumor around town that the resort had increased the skier cap just isn’t true.
“Because it was busier on most days,” she said, “it maybe felt that way to some guests - but we did not. Right now, Ikon pass holders make a reservation and we've got a factor in there for people who may show up from out of town that we don't want to disappoint our pass holders. So, we did a really good job forecasting and like I said the only sell out days where those typical Christmas and we did sell out on the Sunday of Presidents weekend.”
With other Utah resorts part of the IKON product, she says Deer Valley really felt the impact when the Cottonwood Canyons closed.
“There was the Little and Big Cottonwood factor we've not seen to a large degree that with the Ikon pass really affected us,” Reardon said. “So, when those canyons closed, they were like, oh, Deer Valley is an option and so we had a lot more – we could track some of the parking issues on the street directly back to when those canyons were closed.”
Reardon says the cap will remain in place for the coming season as will the no snowboard policy. She says historically those are decisions that have been made on an annual basis.
“We are not allowing snowboarding,” Reardon said.
KPCW asked for this season only?
“You know, we always say that because you never say never - but I will tell you, the thing that's been fun about working with Alterra Mountain Company and Todd [Shallan] is that they really are a house of brands and they espouse that they want us to be strong in our brands and all offer sort of a different experience and product and so… The 3 brand pillars that are important to us are no snowboarding, limited lift tickets/skier visitation and guest service.”
The resort also heard complaints about the grooming this season. That she says they couldn’t do anything about – 60% of the days they were open, they reported new snowfall…
“There are crazy rumors out there that I'd like to put to rest,” Reardon said. Reardon said. “One is that we sold grooming machines to Park City - we did not. That we fired our crew and they're all new - they're not. They have been with us for 30 plus years. Our manager has been there 37 -38 years. We had 2 new groomers on a crew of like 12 to 14. Then, there was the rumor that we cut out the midnight grooming shift - none of those things are true and it's just crazy to me how these rumors get legs.”
As far as overflow parking on the streets around the resort, they exceeded them over their allotment this season and were forced to put in a last minute shuttle between a school parking lot on Kearns Blvd and the resort. An agreement with the city gives the resort a percentage of the days they’re open to park on nearby streets. Reardon didn’t know if that agreement could be amended – or if the nearby homeowners would allow it.
For the coming season, she says the resort will continue to market the Deer Valley Difference.
“Yeah, we got complaints about our IKON passholders specifically and bringing lunch in and all I can tell you is that we were looking at facility for sure - and how we handle bigger numbers on a daily basis in a better way. And it really wasn't the mountain, it was really the restaurants that got overrun a little bit on certain days especially we didn't have a lot of sunny days we didn't get to open our decks so that really hurts us - it's hundreds of seats. And so we're looking at how better to you know - those restaurants and a lodges were designed in the 70s and open in opened in the 80s and so the flow, the traffic patterns, all of that needs to be looked at and evaluated so that we can handle the guests better.”
The resort is hoping to open for the summer season on the Friday before Father’s Day – June 14th. The free Wednesday concerts will return and tickets on sale for the Symphony and Deer Valley concert series.