PARK CITY, Utah — Park City Mountain Chief Operating Officer (COO) Mike Goar gave a mid-season update to the Park City Council on Thursday evening.
Despite the resort’s challenges this winter, he said he’s “never been more confident” in their ability to turn it around.
“We’ve had a fair amount of critical feedback,” Goar said. “We are responsive to that feedback… all feedback is valuable.”
He said that most of the feedback he receives is positive.
“We’ve talked a lot about challenges we’ve had with staffing, and that has resulted in lifts not being open, still not being open, some terrain closures, reduction in our food and beverage offering — all of that has been really impactful on the experience.”
On the topic of traffic, Goar said that the resort has not set any visitation records.
“I assure you the 47% increase in season pass sales does not equate to an increase in day visitors. It can, it can, on occasion. But as I’ve stated, that’s not what we’ve seen here in Park City,” he said.
“And it’s not what we expected to see. Most of the growth in our Epic products has been a conversion from day passes to Epic Pass products.”
The COO said the company is “not seeing an increase, in average, on wait times or lifts.”
Max Doiley was the first member of the council to give a comment. “I think we all can identify with you,” he told Goar.
“I can appreciate you for being here and doing the job of basically being out in front and taking all these hits this year. It’s not an easy job.”
Doilney said he’s had “capacity conversations” with the community and that many feel “their experience” at Park City Mountain “is diminished.”
“The reality is the experience has been somewhat diminished over the years. It feels like there’s a lot more people, it feels a little less safe out there.”
He said he’d like to see the company be more aggressive about workforce housing adding that “it would be a huge signal to the community.”
Doilney, who owns The Corner Store Pub & Grill on Lowell Ave., said that Goar belongs in the good bucket of Park City Mountain managers across his lifetime.
Councilmember Becca Gerber told Goar, “it is unfortunate right now, because it does feel like our city’s in a bit of a conflict with your corporation. And it feels like it is having big impacts on our community… From the city, we’re seeing huge sales tax numbers, we’re seeing our businesses packed at the base, you know we see the lines at some of the lifts… it is quite evident to us that there are more people in town.”
“We share a name in some degree,” councilmember Jeremy Rubell said. “I don’t think it can be understated how important that is to this community, that we have an identity as Park City.”
“Right now, I think a lot of folks in the community feel like the Vail corporation is leveraging all the good stuff from the Park City name, and it’s not necessarily always a two-way street.” – Park City Councilmember Jeremy Rubell.
Rubell said he was told that Park City Mountain employees at the base parking lot were blaming the city for traffic problems last weekend.
He went on to discuss heavy traffic plaguing residential neighborhoods around the resort, and ended by saying “we really are at that breaking point.”
Tana Toly said this time last year she had skied roughly 18 days, this year, she’s skied twice. “I really just don’t want to deal with all the things that I’m seeing or hearing.”
Toly said she’s never seen more people use China Bridge, functionally a Main Street lot, for resort parking as much as she has this season. “We’re seeing it in Prospector though, we see it at the library, we see it at the park… quite frankly, it’s just anywhere anyone can find a spot.”
Councilmember Ryan Dickey, who described himself as “kind of a data guy,” echoed the sentiments of the others by saying “it just kind of doesn’t add up.”
Dickey said locals this year will “come up to you and say — ‘I don’t think I’ll ever buy a pass at Park City again.'”
“We live in a community with Alterra operating and Vail operating, a little bit unique we get to experience both. I don’t see Deer Valley having these problems,” Dickey said.
“When I talk to folks in my network, who are skiing elsewhere and Alterra resorts, I don’t hear about lines. I don’t hear about lack of food. I don’t hear about terrain not open.
“It seems like a little bit of a business problem that we have consolidation in the industry that I feel like Vail is uniquely suffering from.”
Dickey said he’s heard from doctors saying they’ve seen more collisions and injuries than ever this year.
Park City Mayor Nann Worel didn’t ask Goar any questions but referenced a private conversation the two held recently to discuss issues. “What I look forward to is a solutions-oriented partnership, and I really emphasize the term partnership,” Worel said.