Park City Mountain Resort’s (PCMR) application to upgrade two of its lifts received approval last week. Under a 1998 mountain upgrade development agreement, Vail Resorts plans to replace The Silverlode lift with a new 8-person, high-speed detachable chair which will be the first of its kind for Vail Resorts in North America. In addition, a new single Eagle lift will replace the Eagle/Eaglet lifts. This new lift will also include an unload-only mid-station and follow a route similar to its predecessor.
Vail Resorts said in its press release that the new lifts would address a critical spot on the mountain by increasing uphill capacity by 20% and reducing waiting times. Vail also mentioned that these upgrades were part of a larger $320 million plan for capital improvements across 14 of its 37 resorts.
Vail Resorts has mentioned additional future development plans for PCMR, also stemming from their 1998 development agreement for a mountain upgrade plan. In cooperation with the PEG company and pending approvals, Vail announced…
Proposed plans for the 10-acres site include for-sale condominiums, affordable housing, employee housing, day-skier parking garages, a hotel, retail and restaurant offerings, a ski club, public ski lockers for day and seasonal use, skier services, state-of-the-art wayfinding, the ability for the National Ability Center to build its new facility, current green building opportunities, and open space plazas.
Commenting on the approved lift upgrades, PCMR Chief Operating Officer Mike Goar adds, “These are projects that would significantly impact in a very positive way those wait times at the lifts.”
But will this be the case? Will these changes be enough to relieve the skier congestion, and long lift lines to truly improve the PCMR customer experience? Perhaps.
The upgrade project also calls for PCMR to institute a paid parking system, at least on the Park City side, with net proceeds being reinvested back into local transportation, parking, and traffic problems around the resort. Under the new 2022-2023, paid parking reservations will be required for vehicles that have less than four occupants for all surface area lots at Park City base and there will be meaningful incentives for those other drivers who carpool.
With more resorts instituting a similar type of paid parking system as a means of solving crowds and skiers’ congestion, it’s only a matter of time before we get to see the results.
What is also interesting to note is how Vail Resorts does not recognize PCMR as one of its top resort stations as it does with Vail, Beaver Creek, and Whistler. Vail has also confirmed that they consider PCMR one of their second-tier stations, despite its rich heritage, by continuing to not limit access to the station in their Local Epic Pass like they do with Beaver. Creek, Vail, and Whistler, where you get 10 days of combined access to all three resorts in the 21/22 season.
With ski ticket sales from the 2021-2022 season increasing 42% in passes from the prior year and a whopping 30% increase in net income ($128M) over the same time frame, it’s an important question to ask. Just how might it all work out?