We’re All in this Together

By Deb Hartley
Apr 29, 2016

Bob Wheaton & Bill Rock on how their respective resorts and the city all work as one

From Park City Municipal News


Park City Municipal Community News Interview Park City Municipal Corporation: Our three entities—the two resorts and the city government—are part of one ecosystem. How do the two of you work together?

Bill Rock: Bob has been an incredible partner, and I’d like to thank him personally. He’s been very helpful in introducing us to the Park City community, at both the personal and company levels. This is what makes Utah skiing really special: everybody sees the big picture and understands that when we all do well we all do well. Bob has been a fantastic proponent of this, and it’s been great working together.

Bob Wheaton: Well, thanks Bill. I agree. It’s been easy for me—for us—because one good thing about the ski industry is it’s a pretty small deal. Everybody knows everybody, so you can get to know people over time and watch their progress. Bill and I have known each other for years through the industry, so, like I said, it’s been easy for me.

PCMC: How about working with the city?

Wheaton: I’ve never been in another ski resort community that functions nearly as well as Park City, in terms of the relationships among the municipality and the resorts.

Rock: Our guests come to Park City as a destination because it’s a complete experience. There’s a reason why our resort’s tagline is “There’s only one”: there’s only one Park City. It has all the right ingredients: airport access, Utah snow, Park City Mountain, Deer Valley, Main Street. These are all components of the vacation. Collectively it’s the most compelling ski destination in the U.S., as far as I’m concerned. The fact that people can sample two different ski experiences is a huge advantage, and I haven’t even mentioned the resorts on the front of the range.

Wheaton: It’s this very thing that brought my wife and me to Park City 36 years ago. Park City is great, and it’s kind of the epicenter: Snowbird, Alta, Brighton, and Solitude are all close by, as are Snowbasin and Powder Mountain. Bill, I haven’t told you this story before, but one of the highlights of my previous ski season was bringing Solitude online. One day I rode the lift at Solitude with three guys who were visiting for a long weekend.

They had skied the day before at Park City Mountain, and they could not stop talking about the terrain. They said, and this is almost an exact quote, “There is no way that we could have skied every lift but we tried to hit all of the areas.” I asked if they were able to make it back to their car, and they said, “Oh no, there was not enough time to do that.” They had parked at Canyons, but ended up on the Park City side. So they said they took the bus back and it was great. This is just a great example of integration and cooperation of everyone involved.

If those guys had had a great time on the mountain but a crummy time getting back to their car, it would have spoiled their entire day. And I might add they had a great day at Solitude.

PCMC: What do you think, then, about the One Wasatch concept?

Rock: I think it’s a great idea. When we linked our two resorts, we essentially made the first connection. We’ve seen firsthand what a connection can do and how people respond to it.

Wheaton: I agree. And the resorts in each of the two canyons on the front of the range— Brighton and Solitude and Alta and Snowbird— are already connected. So it’s really just a matter of canyon-to-canyon at this point.

PCMC: Could Deer Valley and Park City Mountain be easily connected?

Wheaton: Yes, and that’s not by accident.

PCMC: How did that come about?

Wheaton: It was the same year that Empire and McConkies went in. Phil Jones was my counterpart at PCMR, and Billy Gray was their heavy-equipment operator. Chuck English was—still is—our director of mountain operations. The four of us spent a lot of time up on that ridge (where the two resorts abut) because we did not want to design ourselves out of the possibility of connecting in the future. This is why all those lifts are laid out the way they are. Once we put in Empire Canyon (or Empire Express) and PCMR put in McConkies, we actually had to adjust the property lines a little bit so that we could put the lifts where they really belonged, from a mountain-user standpoint. We designed it so that—with half a day and a decent-sized dozer—we’d be connected. It goes back to the whole idea of cooperation—it didn’t just start with Bill and me.

PCMC: How did your resorts do this past season, numbers-wise?

Rock: Park City Mountain had double-digit growth, double-digit skier day growth.

PCMC: What about Deer Valley.

Wheaton: Same deal.

PCMC: That’s pretty impressive. To what do you attribute it?

Rock: The return of good snow conditions certainly helped. We also spent $50-million over the summer to create the largest resort in the country. I think that message resonated around the world, and people wanted to come check it out.

Wheaton: I just want to pick up on something Bill said that’s kind of ironic: the return of “good” snow conditions. We ought to keep in mind that this past year’s snow was average. Average is not something either resort strives for, but when it comes to snow conditions…

Rock: We’ll take it.

Wheaton: When we’re talking about snow conditions, average is just fine.

PCMC: Do you each have a personal highlight from the past season?

Rock: Mine was cutting the ribbon on all the improvements, particularly the gondola. That day was really special. Our whole team took a lot of pride in it, and it was a fun day.

Wheaton: I have two highlights—one at each end of the spectrum. The first was the amount of powder days that we had and just the great ski season overall. The other was the windstorm during President’s Day week. Thousands of trees were downed—from one end of the resort to the other, across ski runs and everywhere else. My highlight was watching the staff focus on guest service, and observing the cooperation and integration among all the departments. We were able to fire some of those lifts back up by 2:00 pm. It was incredible to watch—it really was.

PCMC: The City has recognized three critical priorities of the community: housing, transportation, and energy (reduction, renewables, and net-zero carbon emissions). How do these align with your resorts’ goals and operations?

Wheaton: These are three of our highest goals as well. And we need to recognize that the best solution for any of them is a collective one— between Summit County, Park City, Park City Mountain, and Deer Valley. If the community can unify behind them, we can make a hell of a difference.

Rock: We’ve rolled out several company-wide initiatives that align with the city’s priorities. Housing is, for sure, front and center in our planning. We have very limited employee housing, and we’ve pledged $30-million across our mountain communities for potential housing projects. We’re in the process of identifying partners here in Park City to help us effectively deploy the money. And we’re already working closely with the city and county on transportation. The resorts’ parking staff and city transportation staff did things they’d never done before this past season to collectively address the issues. And I think it made a huge difference. We’ve also developed solutions specific for our employees—remote parking, shuttles, transit, you name it. In terms of energy reduction, we set a companywide reduction goal of 10 percent, which we met in 2011, so we launched another program called the Next Ten. We’re focusing on everything from fuel use to making our infrastructure more efficient.

PCMC: Summit Community Power Works, a local nonprofit, has made a big push to have businesses and residents switch out their light bulbs for LEDs. Are you doing this in your operations?

Rock: Yes, we’ve done pretty aggressive LED switch-outs. We also launched a program supporting SCPW and their goal of meeting the Georgetown Energy Prize. We partnered with Rocky Mountain Power to provide each employee with four free LEDs. We’re also helping fund smart thermostats: between the manufacturer rebate and our rebate, our employees can purchase them for less than halfprice.

Wheaton: The LED switch is a great program. The bulbs cost money upfront, but with all of the incentives through Rocky Mountain Power, they become affordable. And that’s not even considering the labor savings—especially for businesses with larger facilities. In bigger buildings, it’s not just a matter of standing on the floor and reaching up to change a bulb. You often need a ladder or lift, so doing it once and forgetting about it for 20 years is attractive. And the energy savings are immediately noticeable and trackable: that’s what makes them a prudent investment.

PCMC: Your single biggest use of energy is probably snowmaking, but this is essential to the customer experience.

Rock: Absolutely. One of the things our guests look forward to is consistency, especially with conditions. The good news is that snowmaking technology has gotten very efficient, so a key part of our energy-reduction plan is upgrading our equipment to keep pace with the state-of-the-art technology. Bob’s the real expert on this.

Wheaton: Snowmaking technology has just boomed, especially in the last five years, so new equipment will be our single biggest capital investment this summer.

PCMC: How has the technology improved? Wheaton: Both inputs—gallons of water and kilowatts—have gone down, which means the guns can create more cubic feet of snow with the same amount of energy. Beyond that, pumping efficiencies and compressed air technology in the guns themselves have also come such a long way. And the engineering has improved so much that the water particle actually explodes: you get more cubic feet of snow per particle of water. This means you get a bigger snowflake, which means better ski conditions. The more efficient guns are a sound business decision, but they are also the right thing to do for the environment.

PCMC: Some people worry that snowmaking wastes water.

Rock: This is a common misconception: it actually keeps the water in the watershed longer, releasing it back over an extended period of time.

Wheaton: It essentially acts like a reservoir. Folks should also remember that we are making snow before the occupancy rates in town spike, so it isn’t as if we’re diverting water that would otherwise be used to do dishes or wash laundry.

PCMC: Are you planning to relax in these few short weeks before things ramp up for summer?

Wheaton: We’re both going to Nashville next month for the NSAA—National Ski Areas Association Conference. Shelbyville, which is the center of the Tennessee walking horse community, is only about an hour away. My wife and I are going tack on a few days to go horse shopping.

Rock: And I think I’ll tour the Jack Daniels Distillery while I’m there. PCMC: Horses and whiskey—two things Tennessee and Park City are both famous for. I can’t let you leave without asking what your favorite locals runs are.

Rock: Now that we’ve combined, people tend to gravitate toward the center of the resort, but I like skiing off Condor—it’s fantastic. And with the Mother Lode lift being fast now, people are realizing that all that terrain under there had been under-appreciated. It’s really good skiing. It’s been especially fun for me as a newcomer, but I think everyone can rediscover some runs that may have been hard to access. Wheaton: For me, it depends on the day. On a powder day, I like Red Cloud lift. And, as far as groomers go, Stein’s Way.

PCMC: Well, you can’t go wrong on either mountain.

Local Business Love - While Pine Touring

By Deb Hartley
Mar 11, 2016

White Pine Touring is a staple provider of Park City recreationalists. From Backcountry ski set-ups, to fat tire bikes, skate ski gear, helmets, alpine boots, mittens, backpacks, and all things merino wool, this locally-owned garage has you covered.

Beyond gear, White Pine maintains a beautiful skate and cross-country ski track on the Park City golf course that offers lessons and rentals for first timers. Additional offerings include guided snowshoeing, ski touring, avalanche safety classes, rock climbing, etc... If you're looking to expand your adventure horizons and find new ways to play in the mountains, you should probably stop by...get your skis tuned while you're at it.






Go big: Ski Utah’s mega-resort

By Deb Hartley
Feb 10, 2016

By Dan Leeth, Special Contributor to the Dallas Morning News

PARK CITY, Utah — Faced with a sprawling web of roads, resorts and roundabouts, I reluctantly sacrifice my Man Card and do the unthinkable: I ask for directions.

“How do we get to the Waldorf Astoria?” I whisper to Siri, the all-knowing woman inside my iPhone.

My wife and I have ventured to Park City on a two-part mission. We want to see how well this hotel brand’s New York values play in Utah as well as test my wife’s bigger-is-better manifesto by skiing America’s largest ski resort. With Siri’s guidance, we wind our way to the hotel.

With only 175 rooms compared with the New York Waldorf’s 1,413, this Forbes four-star hotel seems friendlier, cozier and less ostentatiously elegant. It sports a gourmet restaurant and bar, a full-service spa, a heated outdoor pool and a pair of open-air hot tubs, one of which is adults-only. For kids and my s’mores-craving wife, free marshmallows, graham crackers and Hershey bars appear nightly by the patio fire pit.

Accommodations range from standard guest rooms to spring break-worthy four-bedroom suites. All have gas-log fireplaces, and the suites feature full kitchens. We feel like we’re in a luxurious ski condo complete with robes, slippers and evening turn-down service.

“Luxury travel is shifting away from white gloves and linen and moving towards relationship, warmth and sincerity,” says general manager Kerry Hing. “It’s about time with family.”


What are the benefits of altitude?

By Deb Hartley
Feb 04, 2016


There’s Magic Here

By Deb Hartley
Feb 02, 2016

by Meisha Lawson of the Historic Park City Alliance









If you’ve visited Park City before, you’ve likely felt the magic. It’s not something we can easily explain in written words. It’s a feeling. It may be different for you and me, but there is something about the twinkle of the overhead lights, the Trolley, Franz the Bear, Loosey the Moosey, the Post Office, and maybe most importantly the people. We are different; we are special.

We thought long and hard about how to tell our story, but then we realized something. It’s not just our story to tell. It's the merchants, it's the visitors, it's the residents; it is our collective story. It is our collective pride, and our collective charm that makes Park City what it is.

For years now we have been sharing some of these stories through our monthly “Meet the Merchant”. We’ve introduced guest bloggers. We’ve taken photos. The next step in this progression, this evolution is a video series that shares five Park City ‘characters’. Lori, Emily, Doug, Jordan and Carrie tell their Park City stories in their words. We didn’t script the edits, but they all tell the same story, our Park City story.

The first episode is a compilation of all of the stories. You’ll have to keep coming back. We’ll release a new edit each month. Enjoy.

What Constitutes a Park City Local?

By Deb Hartley
Jan 06, 2016

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9 Things Every Skier Should Know This Winter

By Deb Hartley
Dec 10, 2015

DEC. 10, 2015


Orange lift chairs rise over the Canyons Resort in Park City, Utah Orange lift chairs rise over the Canyons Resort in Park City, Utah

Across the country, ski resorts are trumpeting an El Niño winter that they hope will blanket their slopes with powder. In case it doesn’t, many have amplified snow-making capabilities and diversified entertainment and recreation options, from learning to drive a snowcat to visiting an art museum to bike racing.

On-Slope Expansions

The biggest news out of ski country pertains, naturally, to size. Vail Resorts, having purchased Park City Mountain Resort (right) in Park City, Utah, will marry it to the company’s neighboring Canyons Resort this winter with a new gondola and unified lift ticket. The resulting 7,300-skiable-acre resort is the biggest in the country, and the $50 million expansion includes a 500-seat restaurant at the Park City base.

Big Sky Resort in Montana, which has just lost its title as the nation’s biggest ski area, will introduce three runs at the beginner and intermediate levels that are gladed, with trees for weaving in and out. Similarly,Homewood Mountain Resort on the west coast of Lake Tahoe in California will add 750 acres of glades, accessible to groups of no more than 10 skiers.

Celebrating its 50th anniversary, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Wyoming will open the Teton Lift on Dec. 19. The new high-speed quad offers access to at least 100 acres that previously required skiers to hike in.

Back in Utah, the high-end Deer Valley Resort has acquired nearbySolitude Mountain Resort, replacing a central two-person chair with a high-speed four-person model that will boost access to backcountry-like Honeycomb Canyon.

Read more

All New Gondola Cars Sitting in a Row!

By Deb Hartley
Oct 07, 2015

Snow Hut Progress!

By Deb Hartley
Aug 13, 2015


Mountain Bike Park City: The Bucket List

By Deb Hartley
Jun 02, 2015

park_city_photos4Rallying through the signature wallride at Trailside Bike Park with the rest of Park City's 400 miles of trails in the background. Jon Grinney photo.

The speed is getting faster now as I head down Park City’s Spiro trail. The red snake of the trail whips in wild arcs ahead, requiring exacting concentration despite the fact that water is now streaming out the side of my eye sockets. I dip my bars into a sharp corner, trying to hang on to this giddy pace, and hear the machine gun-paced “Whap! Whap! Whap!” as leaves on the inside of the corner slap my hands. It’s an exposure to pure cheek-flapping trail speed that's only registered a handful of times in my years on a bike.

When I pop out a few minutes later on Three Kings Drive, barely three blocks from the house I’m staying at and where this whole ride started, I'm a bit overwhelmed. I grew up riding your average backwoods trail system, with an unmarked dirt lot off some quiet road leading to a smattering of rarely-marked trails. I grew up assuming towns were not supposed to be organized around your weird hobby, and that biking took place only in the dark, woody fringes.

Full article courtesy of http://www.tetongravity.com/

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