Deer Valley Resort, UT, who have a daily cap on the number of skiers they let onto their slopes, appear to have suffered the same fate as many other resorts this season: overcrowding. Locals are complaining of overflowing parking lots and longer-than-normal lift lines as skier visits have increased.
Many factors have played a role in this, including an exceptional snow year, but the resort’s inclusion on the new Ikon Pass has also played its part. And next year the resort will be ready and are already planning on how to better manage the crowds.
“Being a part of the Ikon Pass, I’m not going to say it wasn’t busier. It sure was, but we felt like the mountain handled it well,” Reardon said.
Coleen Reardon, director of marketing for Deer Valley told the Park Record that the resort was up a significant 12 percent in visitation compared to previous years. Still, she added, the resort only hit its cap of 8,500 skiers on the mountain on six days, and all of the days were over the holidays. That stat was on par with previous winters.
To combat the parking issues, as a short-term solution the resort encouraged guests to park at the China Bridge garage near Main Street and use public transit to arrive at the resort and also directed skiers to park at Treasure Mountain Junior High on the weekends. Reardon said the change worked well, but the resort plans to work with the city before next winter to find a more efficient and long-term solution, as well as the following ideas:
- More overflow parking and transit that goes straight to the resort
- The resort wants to have a better plan for snow removal because Reardon said snow covered up approximately 100 of the resort’s parking spots
- The resort plans to better manage the skier cap by installing RFID gates this summer. Currently, season pass holders access the lifts without ‘checking in’, so there are no exact numbers of people on the mountain. Add to that day ticket and Ikon skiers, and the number can soon become skewed and difficult to manage.
“We will be able to better control the numbers on the mountain,” Reardon said. “We don’t have a lot of data right now, but we will next year.”
The gates will also bring more detailed analysis and meta-data and allow the resort to see what areas of the mountain have the most traffic and where the resort should focus its future renovation projects.
Reardon said some guests were upset with the crowds, particularly those who have been skiing at Deer Valley for years and are used to short lift lines. But, she said, it is hard to place the blame for the packed mountain on one factor alone. Not only was Deer Valley on the Ikon Pass this year, but the resort also had more than 300 inches of snow and the US economy is doing well.
“We are thrilled about the new guests that are visiting us, they really love us,” she said. “It’s been fun to see the new folks experience Deer Valley and our product.”
The plus side of being part of Alterra Mountain Company is that it allows the resort to make bigger investments in its technology — such as the RFID gates and planned digital signage at the resort’s base — and future improvements to the resort’s infrastructure, investments the previously family-owned resort just didn’t have the funds to spend.