With a snowy winter unseen for several years in Park City – the 2018-19 ski season could be in position to set some records. KPCW’s Leslie Thatcher has more.
Deer Valley Resort is reporting a 10-15% increase in visitation this winter and while this is the first year that the resort has been part of the nationwide IKON pass, Marketing Director Collen Reardon says some of that growth has to do with snowfall, which is expected to hit the 300 inch mark this week.
“You just can’t go wrong in years like this, right? The snow, " said Reardon, "is incredible. We’re experiencing some really great visitation from our regular guests and our IKON pass visitors. We know that the IKON pass on any given day is bringing us about from 10 to 15% new visitation on any given day. We had our typical sell last week - we keep our cap in place and we had, I think, 6 sell out days this year. It’s the snow too – it’s not just IKON pass – we’re having an amazing winter. People come to us, and have not been for a few years, are coming back.”
Park City Chamber Bureau CEO Bill Malone says there was a lot of anxiety back in December when ski vacation reservations were on the low side…
“And now," Malone said, "here we are in March. I think our numbers on a daily occupancy forecast for the month of March – I think we’re up 25 of 31 days compared to last year in March. So, it’s going to be a super March. I think we’re going to come close - if we don’t set a new record, in terms of both sales tax and skier days and occupancy during this season.”
Snow always makes a difference and even though there are great snow conditions in other markets, Malone says they’re still seeing visitors arrive from Park City’s stronghold markets– Southern California. New York, and surprisingly San Francisco – even though the Tahoe resorts are buried in snow this winter.
“We think it’s a great market for us," said Malone. There’s a lot of young people in the tech industry making good money who like this product that we sell from a ski product. So, I think the Bay Area is another strong one for us.”
He doesn’t expect to see the final numbers for quite some time. Even though Deer Valley and Park City Mountain have already scheduled April 7th as their final day of the season – other Utah resorts like Snowbird, have been known to stay open weekends until July. While he would personally like to see the local season extended, he understands the economics of it…
“I’m not running a business and have to balance out the expenditures versus the revenue side on that., he said. "Which I totally understand. It can be a painful time for the ski resorts in terms of bleeding or giving back the money they made back during the season in those last few weeks. However, personally, I just love those seasons when we go a little bit longer.”
This year, Park City will quickly shift to its growing business meeting season.
“In fact, we have a group coming in on April 10th of about 250 people. It’s a Global Meetings and Incentives Travel Conference that’s coming with 250 people on April 10th – 13th, and this is immediately after the ski season is over. And here we are, turning on the volume in terms of meeting business.
Park City Chamber Bureau CEO Bill Malone. He says they’re also seeing a lot of business this winter from Boston and Washington DC as well.