The Park City Board of REALTORS held their November luncheon at the Montage Deer Valley on Thursday, November 20th. I had the privilege of sitting with our speakers, Bob Wheaton, President and General Manager of Deer Valley Resort, Blaise Carrig, President of the Mountain Division for Vail Resorts, and Bill Rock, COO of Park City Mountain Resort and Canyons. Each provided an update on plans for their respective resorts. A lot of this information is new and worth sharing with my blog readers. Much of it is highly relevant to someone looking to invest in Park City real estate.
Deer Valley® Resort
Bob Wheaton announced that Deer Valley was pleased to note that season pass sales and lodging are both up over 20% from last year. He wasn’t sure of the reason, but thought that it could possibly be due to the “Vail Effect”. With the recent cold temperatures in Park City, Deer Valley’s snow making is about 10 days ahead of this time last year. Deer Valley has recently purchased 5 snow cats and continues to improve its snow making capacity.
Steve Issowits, Director of Real Estate and Resort Planning for Deer Valley Resort, noted the new Brass Tag restaurant located at the Lodges at Deer Valley. This restaurant is committed to upholding the high Deer Valley standard and even makes its own bitters for the bar. Steve said that Deer Valley continues to work on a plan for a gondola that would be based at the Park City Transit Center in Old Town and would link Main Street and Silver Lake Village. Deer Valley is working with the University of Utah School of Architecture on a study.
Steve also touched on the eastern (Deer Crest) side of the resort. That part of the resort will definitely house a military hotel. The Mayflower land tract could change ownership by early next year, which would open additional possibilities for development on that side of the resort. He also mentioned that Deer Valley purchased Solitude resort because it has the same intimate culture as Deer Valley. No changes are expected there for this season.
Park City Mountain & Canyons
Blaise Carrig noted that since Vail is a publicly traded company, he could not publicize capital plans for the resorts until they are approved by Vail’s board at their December 5th meeting. He advised everyone to look for a press release after the board meeting.
Vail uses the same marketing model as casinos. They are all about the on-mountain experience and make their profit by providing excellent lifts, ski schools and restaurants. They sell 400,000 season passes in 40 states and 80 countries. He told us to expect new visitors from across the country and across the world.
Because Vail took over Park City Mountain Resort so late in the summer, he cautioned that we should not have high expectations for the “Vail Experience” this season, but hopefully by next season. Vail made some needed improvements at Canyons, including an expansion of the Cloud Dine restaurant, doubling its size and making it a permanent structure. They did not make their typical capital investment at Canyons because they wanted to wait until the lawsuit was settled and make changes to both resorts at the same time.
Vail is committed to investing in a “pretty aggressive capital package” at PCMR. Blaise noted that Vail normally makes a big capital investment when they take over a resort. For example, they invested $50 million at Heavenly and $30 million at Northstar. (It is interesting to note that Bill Rock, the COO of PCMR and Canyons, came from the Tahoe area where he was responsible for both of those resorts.)
In my opinion, once Vail makes its capital improvement announcement after December 5th we are going to see an uptick in value and pricing in Park City, especially for the properties located in the PCMR and Canyons resort areas. Now is a great time to get in on what could be the last good real estate deals of the season.