Friday, July 3 will mark the last day at work for one of Deer Valley’s original employees as John Guay will retire after nearly 40 years at the same resort.
John Guay was hired by Deer Valley as a Ski School Supervisor before the iconic Utah resort’s inaugural season in 1981 and has served as Deer Valley Resort’s Director of Skier Services for the last 18 years, a position he took over just after the 2002 Olympics. He was a natural fit for the job -- he was there for Deer Valley’s first-ever opening day, all the way back in 1981.
Guay says those early years were exciting but filled with uncertainty. He was in charge of booking lessons and taking reservations for the ski school back then and saw lots of employee turnover as Deer Valley was working out how to best run their business.
“Until you really open the doors and the guests show up and you’re kind of in the front lines, I’m not sure any of us were really quite certain how it was all going to go,” Guay said. “We were pretty busy right out of the gate, high demand for lessons, families on vacation. Mom and dad liked to take privates and the kids in group lessons and it just took off from there.”
In the pre-internet and computer days, Guay did all of the reservations by hand with pencil and paper in a massive binder of instructors and schedules. Guay says his system from the ‘80s was actually used as the template for how electronic reservations are handled at the resort today.
According to Guay, apart from modern technology, the core business of today’s Deer Valley is very similar to when he first started on day one at the resort. He says high-quality service, small crowds, and great food have always been centerpieces of the Deer Valley experience.
Guay says starting next week, he’s going to take some time for himself and his family to reflect on his lengthy career. After that, it’s traveling, camping, kiteboarding, and, of course, a little skiing from here on out. He says all things considered, hobbies and grandkids will be keeping him pretty busy.
“I feel really, really fortunate that I was able to kind of be in on the ground floor, at the start-up, of a really successful business,” he said. “I think a world-class business. I think the people that have been here, the people that have stuck with it, there was a lot of turnover in the early years and some people that weren’t probably the right fit for this type of company, but the ones that stuck it out and the ones that poured their hearts and souls into it are some great people. The group from the first year is getting to be a little bit small now, but we have so many people who have been here for 20-25 years. My thanks to all the front-line staff, my managers that work in skier services, the director group. Just a really, really great resort.”
The search to fill Guay’s role is currently underway.