With opening day of the Park City ski season just a week away, the executives at both Park City Mountain and Deer Valley Resorts talked about what will be a ski season unlike any other...
In their annual update to members of the Park City Board of Realtors, Chief Operating Officers at Deer Valley Todd Shallan and at Park City Mountain Mike Goar reviewed their plans for a ski season in the midst of a pandemic.
Both talked about how different operations will be this year, but their goals remain the same – Get open and stay open.
“The bottom line is we are planning on opening on December 5th and our goal is to stay open and keep people as safe as we possibly can,” said Shallan. Mike Goar added, “ yeah it’s certainly a different year, to say the least. I would say kind of our operating motto if you will is, open to stay open.”
The good news from both resorts is that despite not having any J1 visa workers – their staffing levels look better now than it did a year ago. Todd Shallan:
“We've had very good success in hiring this year,” Shallan reported. “Last year we had just about 400 J1s that we used - so that was 400 people that aren’t coming this year. But what we have found is there's a lot of college students that are working remotely that are here in Park City or want to be in a mountain town and so our hiring has been very strong, So, we we’re really pleased. Jeremy and I were just talking with the lift operations team and their group is starting now and they're fully staffed. You know there's a lot of things that we can do with less staffing here and there, but their lift operations isn’t one of them. If you don't have you know folks to attend to top and bottom and lift maintenance on both of those, you can't open a ski resort.”
While their pandemic operating plans have been released to the public more than a month ago, something new that was mentioned is that Park City Mountain – in addition to making a reservation to get on a chairlift, reservations will also be required at all of their on-mountain lodges and restaurants.
Mike Goar said they’ve planned the best they can, everyone should expect change as the season goes along...
“As we get into the year and we begin to prove out our ability to execute on all of the safety protocols to keep everyone safe, then that's going to give us a better sense is there an opportunity to change capacities as we go along,” said Goar. “That very well could be the case and we'll just we'll just monitor that as we go and make adjustments as we can.”
What skiers and riders should expect is that even though there will be fewer people on the slopes - there will likely be lift lines to accommodate the safety protocols. While Deer Valley will maintain a skier cap – Shallan says it will be significantly less than years past,
“Contrary to popular belief, I did not change the number that we’ve had as a capacity limit since Bob Wheaton was here and that number has stayed the same the last couple of years that I was here. But we will be substantially reducing that capacity limit this year and I have been on the record and I will be on the record here, saying we're not going to say what that number is. We have an idea but that may change and so we won't really know until we operate the resort at that full capacity if it's working or not. But I can tell you that it will be significantly reduced from what we normally will have.”
Goar says that Park City will be following similar safety precautions which will mean longer lift lines and limited access to on mountain restaurants...
“Again, that is all about keeping guests and employees safe. And those will include like Deer Valley, you’ve got lift loading protocols that will reduce capacity of our lifts. Also, we will have a reservation system for our restaurants this year.”
Goar noted that they still plenty of room at Christmas and other busy holiday weekends – and he expects that except for a few days, they won’t reach capacity. He added that as long as there is room, they will continue to take reservations day of.
Park City is scheduled to open both its Park City and Canyons Village bases on Friday, November 20th and Deer Valley will open on Saturday Dec. 5th.