Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR) in Utah is one of the most well-known resorts in the country, and for good reason. It has a massive 7,300+ acres of terrain, a vertical rise of 3,226 feet, and is located just 32 miles from Salt Lake City. The resort also averages over 350 inches of the “best snow on earth” and has a summit elevation of over 10,000 feet. The town of Park City has fantastic amenities and world-class restaurants. Family-friendly services are plenty, and there is a bustling nightlife.
All these facts have consistently helped land PCMR in SKI Magazine’s Annual Resort Guide. PCMR came in at number 13 on the guide last year. However, this year, they tumbled to number 30 on the list and were dangerously close to being left off altogether. SKI Magazine only names the top 30 resorts in the west and the top 20 in the east. These results punctuate the difficulties that the resort dealt with last winter. Many locals and longtime visitors expressed that last season was their worst experience at the resort ever.
Why the drop?
SKI Magazine surveys its readers on elements of the entire ski experience. They include guest service, snow, access, terrain variety, value, lodging, nightlife, challenging terrain, family friendliness, local flavor, and après skiing. PCMR showed strengths in access and terrain variety, but these were overshadowed by the value and guest service.
Complaints about PCMR were numerous throughout the season. Long lift lines, crowded slopes, and limited terrain openings were all frustration points. Combined with lower-than-average snowfall and you can see why visitors were upset.
It got so bad that in February, Park City residents brought the issues to the town mayor and city council members to see if they could help. One resident attested to how they waited in line for 42 minutes to buy a $9 hot dog. The vice president and chief operating officer of PCMR even made an appearance to address the widespread complaints about the resort’s operations.
Staffing issues were the primary issue the resort faced which led to dissatisfaction. Without enough employees, there was a trickle-down effect where limited terrain opened, the lift lines were longer, the slopes were crowded, and it took forever to get something to eat.
What are they doing to fix it?
Vail Resorts owns PCMR and is committed to improving the guest experience this coming winter. They had this to say in a statement after the rankings came out:
“Last season came with several challenges, and our resort leadership has been working extremely hard to improve problem areas and work toward full staffing for this winter. We care deeply about the guest and employee experiences we create, and our entire team is laser-focused on continuous improvements for the season ahead, including higher wages, new employee housing, a new parking reservation plan at the Mountain Village base area, limiting lift tickets throughout the season, and more. With this focus, we’re looking forward to welcoming all of our guests back to the slopes next month.”
The good news is that PCMR has a great foundation, and most problems are related to staffing issues. The brand is strong, and although damaged a bit now, if Vail Resorts can address these issues, they can only go up from here.