A Deeper Dive Into Why Park City Mountain Resort, UT, Fell So Far in This Year’s Annual Resort Guide

Brent Thomas | | Industry NewsIndustry News
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Park City Mountain Resort: Credit: Vail Resorts

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.

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A bluebird spring day with snow-covered mountain peaks standing tall in the distance at Park City Mountain Resort in Park City, Utah. Credit: skiutah.com

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.

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Crowds at Park City. Credit: reddit.com

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.

Despite the setback, Park City still has a lot going for it. Credit: Park City

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8 thoughts on “A Deeper Dive Into Why Park City Mountain Resort, UT, Fell So Far in This Year’s Annual Resort Guide

  1. To save money Vail /PC Management wasn’t until late summer(?) to submit request for worker VISAs. There were no more left and so no seasonal workers from the Southern Hemisphere. Hence to lift operators. Hence lifts not opening ALL SEASON. Since COVID the groomers had to resort to heavy machinery jobs. Once they did that they saw how crappy the grooming pay was to work the graveyard shift. So PC had I believe 2 groomer per shift but 9 grooming machines. Vail failed to recognize the problem and solve it (with $). They do not understand how it has impacted the skiers. After a decade I’m moving in. I did not renew my Epic pass. I love the mountain but I won’t give any more money to Vail. Period.

  2. There’s no “deeper dive” here. The author merely restates the problem and quotes the vail PR. Vail Resorts consistently blames “market conditions” that aren’t affecting the customer experience of their competitors. The problem is VRs business model. The oversell for their capacity and underpay their staff…. Looks great on the quarterly report but terrible in the lift corral

  3. PCMR doesn’t pay it’s employees enough. While I was there, the Ski Patrol was negotiating a base pay rate of $15 an hour. You drive a mile down the road and TACO BELL has a big sign on the front that says, “STARTING PAY $17 AN HOUR”. There you have it:)

  4. Ikon resorts operated much better than park city. Some lifts did not even spin last season and PC yet those issues did not apply to other resorts in the area like Brighton, Snowbird, and Solitude. The passes have added to traffic in the area tho that is true.

  5. The problem is not the effects of the pandemic. The problem is the lack of anti-trust enforcement. Epic, Ikon…… should not be allowed to exist. They have killed competition and their model now, and moving forward, it terrible for the skiing public. Park City was far from the only Vail affiliated resort to feature overcrowding, arbitrarily closed terrain that was fit to open, and short staffed. Mismanagement and too big to fail. They failed.

  6. Personally I have lived in Park City for over 22 years and skied over 80 days at PCMR last year. Last year at PCMR was the WORST experience that I have ever had at any ski resort. Vail corporation was (and continues to be) focused on maximizing its revenue NOT in providing a “world class” customer experience. When I complained to management the response was, “Vail is a publicly traded corporation and must answer to its stockholders.”

    Vail knew what the problems were and did nothing about it. Deer Valley which I skied at a few days last year, is in the same location, they faced the same problems and addressed the issues early on. DV got a rank of #2. Maybe they did not make as much profit but they focused on the customer which paid them dividends. This year is the first time in my 22 years in Park City I do not plan on getting a single pass for PCMR and have purchased a DV and Icon season pass for the 22-23 season.

  7. PCMR didn’t even open some lifts last season. And while they said they had staffing issues none of the other resorts had any of the issues the PC had. I had both an Ikon and a PC pass so I feel like I can testify of this. I have also had a PC pass for many years and last year was by far the worst year in terms of experience for the resort.

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