Today’s Park Record is reporting that Park City mayor Jack Thomas said it was a surprise “to see the ranking drop so much. I saw dramatic improvements to the infrastructure of Park City mountain and The Canyons,” Thomas said, adding, “How did we drop that fast when the resort put so much into the mountain?” Thomas said the skiing was good last season and PCMR was managed well.
Ummm? Is our nice, kind mayor suffering from short-term memory loss? Perhaps he is just doing his best sales job for Park City. Either way, let’s try and remember what happened during the past year that could have contributed to people’s opinions on Park City (ski resort).
First we have that “little” legal dispute with Park City Mountain (or whatever it’s being called) trying to steal the city’s name. It ended thanks to citizens’ efforts and a lot of work by former Mayor Dana Williams.
Then we have the fact that it was about impossible to park at PCMR. Good luck if you got there after 8:30 on most days.
Then we have the $50 million in improvements that Mr Thomas mentions. Wasn’t that mostly for the
marketing effort gondola to connect PCMR to Canyons? Would anyone call that a dramatic upgrade to their daily skiing experience? Not likely. Yes, it was also supposed to pay for upgrading some lifts at PCMR, improved restaurants, and some snow making. I guess maybe money can’t buy success either. Tom Clyde summed up that $50 million spent pretty well.
Then we have the condition of the lifts. I remember one day being at Canyons and a whole bunch of Vail execs were getting on the chair right in front of me. I then got on the lift. The chair was tattered, with fabric flapping in the wind. It had some holes in it. It stuck in my mind because I thought, “why couldn’t those Vailians have gotten my crappy chair?” It just looked second rate.
Oh, and while we are talking about lifts, remember this article from the Park Record, Another lift malfunctions at PCMR from back in March? The story reported that “Park City Mountain Resort’s popular PayDay lift malfunctioned Sunday morning, stranding almost 300 skiers and snowboarders, in what was the fourth time a PCMR lift has broken down with people on board in the past two ski seasons… Ski patrollers spent two hours and 40 minutes evacuating the stranded skies and snowboarders using ropes.” Then of course there is the money quote from the Chamber’s Bill Malone, “Obviously it’s not a positive experience if that happens to you . . . I couldn’t say whether that would cause someone not to come back.” Maybe someone would come back, but they are probably not too happy when the ski magazine conducts their survey.
Next there was the opening week last year, with complaints of 40+ minute lift lines amid the charges of understaffing.
So, combined, you have a resort that pissed of the city, got lots of bad press both locally and nationally, didn’t open well, was charged with understaffing, has terrible parking, made customers climb down ropes from the ski lift, spent a butt load of money with little real return, and has some really crappy looking lift chairs. Why aren’t they #3 (or even #10)? Because they don’t deserve it.
All that said, I’m sure I’ll see you there this winter. I don’t need Park City to be #1, or #10, or even #30. Who cares? Theoretically, a great ranking only serves to bring in more people. What we really don’t need right now is more people. From my perspective the Canyons side is great for a few hours of skiing. If I want a really nice resort, I’ll go to Deer Valley. If I want nice and different (and there’s snow), I’ll choose Snow Basin. If I want great skiing I’ll do Snowbird or Alta.
I think if you are Mayor, you have more important issues than worrying about whether Park City rankings are falling. Maybe a few less people come to Park City from out of town. They head to Colorado instead. That’s probably OK for a year or two.