Vail issued a press release stating that thanks to record-breaking snow totals and the hard work of their mountain operations teams, Heavenly Valley, Northstar and Kirkwood would extend the 2018-19 ski and snowboard season, weather & conditions permitting. Some businesses at the base of Park City Mountain Resort are wondering why the same isn’t happening for Vail’s operations in Utah.
Max Doilney owns the Corner Store Pub and Grill located at Park City Mountain's base area. He’s lived in Park City 41 years. He says nature has given resort businesses a gift this year with more than 300 inches of snow. He thinks keeping the resort open a few more weeks would be a boost for local businesses and skiers and riders.
“It feels like more local businesses are owned by people who live and work in town. And that's fading a little bit when you go to Main Street, you see a little bit less of that then you used to. And frankly it's just a bummer to see decisions being made that really don't have Park City’s long-time locals in mind."
Andrew Mitchell is the General Manager at the Baja Cantina, also at the base of Park City Mountain. He says they are planning to roll the dice and stay open despite the resort closing April 7th.
“Yeah, absolutely. We've had such a stellar winter and you know for Vail to have the option to extend their closing date and choose not to in Park City, I feel it. You know, it's a potential loss for our businesses at the resort.
The Park City School District's spring break starts April 8th. With the favorable snow pack, Doilney wonders why Park City Resorts wouldn’t stay open.
“Utah is being sacrificed, you know, to benefit their other resorts. There's no other mountain operator in the history of Park City that wouldn't extend the season with this much snow. I can't remember one and I've been here 41 years. So, I’m totally dumbfounded why they wouldn't extend the season here.”
Park City Restaurant Association Executive Director, Ginger Wick, says she wouldn’t second guess Vail's business decision to close or stay open, but she’s certain the restaurant industry would be amenable to it.
“You know, every year we see more and more restaurants staying open longer in the season. Obviously snow conditions keep people coming in skiing longer into the spring than other years. Obviously, this year that would be the case if either resort was staying open; but also, I think the reason restaurants are staying open is because of employees. They don't want to lose employees. They want to create more year-round opportunity. All companies, I think in Park City, struggle finding employees.
In a March 6th interview with KPCW, President and CEO of the Park City Chamber and Visitors Bureau, Bill Mallone says personally, he would like to have the Park City Resorts stay open a little longer.
“No, I’m looking at it from this big picture. I think you know, from a number’s standpoint, I'm not running a business and have to balance out, you know, the expenditures versus the revenue side, which I totally understand. It can be a painful time for the ski resorts in terms of bleeding or giving back the money that they've made during the season in those last few weeks. However, I’ll say personally I just love those seasons where we go a little bit longer.”
Malone says that next year, with Easter falling on April 12th, it may entice the local resorts to stay open a week more.
Park City Mountain and Canyons Resort, COO Bill Rock and Communication Director, Margo Van Ness did not respond to KPCW’s call to provide comment. Ski Utah CEO Nathan Rafferty declined to comment on Vail’s decision to close Park City and Canyons while choosing to extend their Tahoe based resort seasons.