Deer Valley Resort President and General Manager Bob Wheaton, gives a preview of the 2014 – 2015 ski season and invites you to come #SkiTheDifference.
Deer Valley Resort’s President and General Manager, Bob Wheaton, is the 2014 S. Joseph Quinney Award Honoree from the University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriott Library. Named for the late Utah lawyer, businessman, state legislator, ski visionary and founder of Alta Ski Resort, who is often referred to as “the father of Utah’s ski industry,” the Quinney Award is presented each year to an individual or organization exhibiting the same public-spirited attributes and contributions to winter sports as its namesake.
Quinney Award recipient, Bob Wheaton, joined Deer Valley Resort in 1980 and worked his way up to resort president in 1997. With Wheaton at the helm, Deer Valley Resort has held the distinction of being rated by readers of SKI Magazine as the number one resort in North America seven times, five of those years consecutively, and has ranked among the top three resorts in North America for the past 16 years. For 2015, Deer Valley was ranked the number two resort in North America and the number one resort in the United States. In 2013 the resort was awarded the United States’ Best Ski Resort award at the inaugural World Ski Awards.
“To receive the S. Joseph Quinney Award, that pays homage to a man I revere, and be included among peers who have all played a vital role in furthering Utah’s ski history, is such an honor,” said Wheaton. “For the past 45 years, the ski industry has been a cornerstone of my life. I will continue to do what I can to keep it a mainstay of Utah’s future.”
Wheaton’s extensive public service work and contributions to winter sports are aligned with the legacy of S. Joseph Quinney. He is a past president of the board of directors of both the Park City Chamber and Visitor’s Bureau and the Intermountain Ski Areas Association. Currently, he serves on Ski Utah’s executive committee and is a two-time past president and has served on the board of the Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce. Wheaton is also on the boards of the Utah Symphony and Opera, the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation and the National Ski Area Operators Association.
Wheaton is a recipient of the Outstanding Contribution Award from the Intermountain Ski Areas Association, the Park City Rotary Club’s Professional Citizen of the Year Award and Ernst and Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year. He was inducted into the Utah Tourism Hall of Fame and worked closely with the organizing committee for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, for which Deer Valley hosted the freestyle mogul and aerial events, along with the alpine slalom competitions.
Wheaton received the Quinney Award at the 24th annual Ski Affair, a fun- and nostalgia-filled fundraising dinner presented by the University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriott Library’s Ski Archives, held at Little America in downtown Salt Lake City on Wednesday, November 5, 2014. The Ski Archives house the largest cache of skiing and snow sports history in the country.
Nearly every day, I find some reason to appreciate the moments and experiences that make life in Park City, Utah unique. Believe it or not, these moments don’t revolve entirely around sports experiences—though I engage in as many seasonally-relevant sports as possible every week. But sometimes, seemingly out of the blue, you get those, “Only in Park City” moments that fill you with wonder at the dumb luck of living in such a terrific place. Here are some of my favorites:
1. Everyone gives back
The ways in which we give back are so numerous, I can’t even begin to list them all here. Schools get kids involved early with opportunities to give—often having classrooms compete with pennies to raise funds for a charity, and once the students enter middle school, their curriculum includes community service hours. Deer Valley connects hundreds of students each year with our state’s heritage at the annual Navajo Rug Show. Parents and non-parents volunteer time in the classrooms of our schools. Also, I have been asked annually to be a guest speaker on the topic of professional writing and blogging for the ninth graders in Honors English, as they embark on writing their own blogs. I’m very proud to be able to give back to my community in this way. And I’m hardly alone: When Lance attended a summer camp called Innovation in Action Institute (which focused on entrepreneurial skills), one local entrepreneur-parent gave a video-conference presentation to the students, while he was on a business trip. Countless friends of mine contribute their time to the Center for Advanced Professional Studies, run by the school district.
And on November 7, the annual Live PC, Give PC Day of Giving will overtake the town, with volunteers wearing T-shirts, holding signs, calling in to KPCW and generally getting the word out that people can donate to one or more non-profits to help support the programming that keeps the town running (with ED, or otherwise.) It’s a great way for locals and guests to show their support for all the work our town’s non-profits do to benefit the entire community. It’s this kind of collaborative approach that makes our town unique—because we all feel that we’re contributing to the success of the town, beyond just spending money on ski passes and shopping in the stores.
Parkites love nothing more than sharing an experience—witness the countless outdoor concerts, where there’s a “huge crowd, whether it’s free or paid. But we seem to excel at the experience of giving.
2. We WIN Lost and Found
Our local radio station, KPCW does an excellent job sharing Lost and Found announcements. Dogs, wallets and cell phones figure heavily in these announcements. But once in a while, I’ll have an experience that wouldn’t happen in most of the cities I’ve lived in previously. To wit: One week, I enjoyed Standup Paddleboarding outings with friends, not once, not twice, but three times. My son, Lance, left a tote bag with dry clothes somewhere on the grass beach near the pond.
We discovered this after we arrived home, so we schlepped back to the Deer Valley Grocery~Café to look for it. Oddly, we couldn’t find it—but we did spot a towel and wet suit belonging to his friend Ben, who’d been with us that day. So the trip wasn’t for naught and I began to wonder if we’d actually brought the bag with us in the first place. Imagine my delight when, the following Wednesday after we’d finished paddling with our friends Tracy, Michael and their kids, I spotted the bag sitting between the building’s AC units.
When I showed it to Michael, he was astounded—“That’s been here since Saturday?” he asked with the disbelief of a longtime city-dweller. So stunning was this discovery, that Michael took a photo of the bag in its waiting spot.
3. We Chase Balloons
No matter how frequently it happens, my family and I never tire of noticing hot-air balloons dancing over the early-morning horizon. On a recent morning, there were three coming up over the ridge that we could see from our breakfast table. It looked improbably pretty, like a painting. One morning, when Seth and I had some time between dropping off his brother at camp and the beginning of his own camp, we saw a balloon that was about to land near a parking lot off of US 40. We drove over to watch the landing, so he could see how graceful it looks.
4. We get customer service
Deer Valley Resort is only one example of the way Park City does its best to be hospitable to locals and visitors alike, and to make sure the experience is stellar. Park City MARC runs terrific programming all year for our town’s youth, exposing them to skateboarding, soccer, fencing and basketball, to name just a few. One standout? The excellent tennis programs, including their camps, which my kids attended this summer.
Of course everyone has an “off”day, and happened one day when my younger son was attending the tennis camp. I couldn’t get a straight answer on something that was happening at camp—the details of the situation are unimportant here, but the fact is when I expressed my concern, the front-desk staffers, Sadie and Marianne, heard it. Sadie escorted me to the operations office where I met Recreation Supervisor Tate Shaw. “I get that mistakes and oversights happen,” I told him. “But the mark of a good organization is how well the situation gets handled after the mistake.” Tate took my concerns seriously, addressed them with the staff and called the following day to let me know that it had indeed been resolved to my satisfaction. I know this seems like a small thing to some people—but if you’ve ever been stuck in an endless ladder of customer service auto-prompts with a big company, the fact of having an actual human being listen to you is not to be undervalued. The other thing that this experience reinforced is Park City’s small town charm and the “it takes a village” mentality, that comes to bear almost every day in little ways. When I expressed a concern about an issue in a program my child was in, it was taken as seriously as though it were a staff members child.
5. We Dress for Success
On most of the days that I took Lance to Standup Paddleboarding camp at the Deer Valley Grocery~Cafè Pond, I arrived ready to paddle.
Except one day, I arrived dressed for the meeting I’d left briefly, to run Lance up to camp. As Trent came paddling ashore to greet Lance, he said with some surprise, “Oh, it’s YOU! I thought you sent someone else to drop off Lance!” The fact is most days I put on exercise clothes first—and may not find myself in street clothes until the following day. After all, when you’re fitting in exercise and sports around the other necessary activities of daily life and you have the kind of job that only occasionally requires a professional wardrobe, dressing for work has a different meaning. For someone who worked in fashion magazines for a very long time and once received a “once-over” from the editor of Vogue, it’s frankly a relief. There’s a definite vibe of “come as you are,” in Park City. Biking to a meeting is a good thing, riding a chairlift to one is even better. So if you see me looking like I’ve been loafing around in yoga pants or ski clothes all day, chances are you’re half-right—but in this town, that’s dressing for success.
Deer Valley Resort is honored to be ranked the #1 ski resort in the United States by the readers of SKI Magazine in 2015 and to be voted #1 in the categories of Access, Guest Service, Family Programs, Dining, On-mountain Food, Lodging and Grooming.
Deer Valley Resort revolutionized the ski industry by providing the first-class service one would receive at a five-star hotel. The resort offers 21 chairlifts, 101 ski runs, six bowls, 12 restaurants, 300 annual inches of powder, three elegant day lodges, 2,026 acres of alpine skiing, hundreds of luxury accommodations and a renowned Ski School and Children’s Center.
Deer Valley Resort early-season rates on all Season Pass products end on Friday, October 31, 2014. Deer Valley offers a wide range of Season Pass options, including the Midweek Senior, Super Senior and Young Adult passes. For more information on all Season Pass products and pricing, please visit deerlocals.com.
Deer Valley 2014-2015 Season Pass holder benefits include:
- Valid for summer 2015 chairlift rides. Deer Valley offers lift-served mountain biking, hiking and scenic chairlift rides. Operating mid-June through Labor Day. Midweek season passes are valid seven days a week in the summer.
- Eligible Adult, Senior and Midweek Season Pass holders will receive up to six Buddy Passes for each Season Pass purchased. Eligible Teen and Child Season Pass holders will receive four Buddy Passes for each Season Pass purchased. Season Pass holders must present their Season Pass at the ticket office in order to receive the discounted rate. Midweek Season Pass holder discounts are valid Monday-Friday only. Black-out dates for Season Pass Buddy rates are December 26, 2014 – January 1, 2015 and February 14 – 16, 2015. Adult and Senior: $71, Midweek: $62, Teen: $62, Child: $43
- Wasatch Benefit Pass, enjoy shared lift privileges at Alta Ski Area and Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort with the purchase of a qualifying Deer Valley Resort Season Pass. Select season passes at each resort qualify for up to three complimentary day tickets at the other two resorts. One ticket per day, per resort, will be issued and the tickets are 100% non-transferable. Black-out dates apply: December 24, 2014 – January 2, 2015, January 17 – 19, 2015 and February 14 – 16, 2015.
- Eligible Season Pass holders will receive four ski days at Solitude Mountain Resort this coming season. Midweek pass holders will be given two passes valid Monday-Friday. One ticket per day will be issued and the tickets are 100% non-transferable. Holiday restrictions will apply: December 24, 2014 – January 2, 2015, January 17 – 19, 2015 and February 14 – 16, 2015.
- A 20% discount Snow Park lunch card is available exclusively to Season and Local Pass holders. They may be used at the Snow Park Restaurant between the hours of 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
- 15% discount on dinner at three of Deer Valley’s evening restaurants: Royal Street Café, Seafood Buffet and The Mariposa. Holiday restrictions will apply: December 20 – 31, 2014 and February 14 – 16, 2015.
- One-year subscription to SKI Magazine
Deer Valley Season Passes are available for purchase at our Snow Park Ticket Desk, open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., online at deerlocals.com, by phone at 435-645-6626 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deer Valley Resort has entered into an agreement to purchase Solitude Mountain Resort and will begin operating the resort on May 1, 2015.
“Solitude is an incredible resort and provided a huge opportunity for us to expand our offerings right here in Utah,” said Bob Wheaton, president and general manager of Deer Valley Resort. “Solitude is in unique position with their widely varied terrain that attracts both local and destination skiers. We are ecstatic to be able to add the resort to the Deer Valley® family.”
“The DeSeelhorst family has enjoyed being a part of Solitude’s history for almost 40 years. We are proud of what we have been able to accomplish at the resort and in our mountain community,” said Dave DeSeelhorst, owner and general manager of Solitude Mountain Resort. “We feel very fortunate for the opportunity to have worked with so many amazing people in our industry and most importantly being able to work with our incredible staff at Solitude over the years. It is exciting to pass on this unique and beautiful resort to one of the best resort operators in the country, Deer Valley.”
For the upcoming 2014-15 ski season, Solitude will operate as usual under the leadership of the DeSeelhorst family. To foster the most effective and strategic change over, select Deer Valley staff will work alongside Solitude staff during the next six months to evaluate resort operations and gain knowledge about the Solitude brand and culture. Deer Valley will then take full ownership of Solitude Mountain Resort on May 1, 2015.
Why did Deer Valley Resort enter into an agreement to purchase Solitude Mountain Resort?
Deer Valley recognized a great opportunity to expand within the Utah market by adding Solitude Mountain Resort to the Deer Valley family. Solitude is an incredible resort, with both family friendly and expert terrain, and we are sincerely excited to begin working with the staff.
Amount Paid? Assets acquired?
This is a private acquisition.
How will this purchase change the experience at Solitude?
It will be business as usual, run by the DeSeelhorst family, at Solitude for the upcoming 2014-15 season. Deer Valley recognizes Solitude’s unique position in both the local and destination markets and acknowledges that we have much to learn about the current operation and brand position. Consequently, we will have select Deer Valley staff work hand in hand with Solitude staff this winter to share knowledge.
Does current Solitude staff need to worry about their employment?
Deer Valley does not anticipate any major changes in staffing at Solitude at this time.
Will snowboarding still be available at Solitude? How about the Brighton
Deer Valley plans to continue allowing snowboarding at Solitude and keep the Brighton connection in place.
What about One Wasatch? Now that Deer Valley intends to own Solitude does a connection from Big Cottonwood Canyon to Deer Valley, instead of Park City Mountain Resort, make more sense?
One Wasatch has been analyzed over the years and the present lift alignment recently released by Ski Utah seems to make the most sense.
Will it become a mini-Deer Valley?
Although Deer Valley will bring some of our service oriented and operational philosophies to the resort we do not plan to re-brand Solitude as another Deer Valley.
Will the name change?
At most, Deer Valley would make a small adjustment to the name to let current guests and potential visitors know the resort is now part of the Deer Valley family. We believe there is a lot of awareness and brand equity in the Solitude name.
Will there be a reciprocal arrangement for skiing benefits between Solitude and Deer Valley Resort?
Deer Valley Resort and Solitude Mountain Resort full season pass holders will receive four ski days at each respective resort. Deer Valley midweek pass holders will be given two passes valid, Monday through Friday, at Solitude for the coming season. Holiday restrictions will apply: December 24, 2014 – January 2, 2015; January 17 – 19, 2015 and February 14 – 16, 2015.
Will Solitude be added to the Wasatch Benefit program?
Deer Valley anticipates the Wasatch Benefit program will remain as announced in September with shared lift privileges for select season pass holders between Alta, Deer Valley and Snowbird.
Will lift ticket, locals and season pass prices increase dramatically due to the purchase of Solitude by Deer Valley?
There will be no changes to the lift and season pass rates announced by Solitude for the 2014-15 season. Moving forward, Deer Valley Resort will analyze past resort performance, operational expenses and projected revenue potential prior to setting rates.
Will Deer Valley bring more capital and marketing investments to Solitude?
Deer Valley will take the next six months to analyze operational and marketing/brand opportunities prior to announcing any capital investments. In addition, Deer Valley will begin promoting the great experience and resort jewel Solitude currently is in spring of 2015.
Does Deer Valley plan on buying any more resorts?
Although Deer Valley is not actively pursuing purchasing another resort, we have always been open to analyzing opportunities that may be a good fit for Deer Valley.
Did Deer Valley purchase Solitude in response to Vail Resorts’ purchase of Park City Mountain Resort and Ian Cumming’s purchase of Snowbird?
Absolutely not. Deer Valley has entertained many opportunities to purchase resorts over the years and in the end, those opportunities did not make good business sense. Solitude came to us at the right time and for the right reasons including: the location in Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah; past business practice and performance; and great awareness in the local market.
Deer Valley Resort will kick off its winter season with the excitement of the annual Deer Valley® Celebrity Skifest on December 6 and 7, 2014. The invitational ski event pairs former Olympic ski legends with television and film celebrities for an exciting weekend of skiing, live music and fundraising for Waterkeeper Alliance, the fastest-growing grassroots environmental movement in the world. There are presently over 225 Waterkeeper Organizations around the world defending their communities against anyone who threatens their right to clean water—from law-breaking polluters to unresponsive government agencies.
“Kicking off Deer Valley’s ski season with the Celebrity Skifest event is a great way to welcome our guests back each year,” said Bob Wheaton, resort president and general manager. “This event has become a tradition for our opening weekend and allows us to help support Waterkeeper Alliance, a non-profit organization we feel strongly about.”
The Deer Valley Celebrity Skifest is a three day event that includes giant slalom races on both Saturday, December 6 and Sunday, December 7 on Deer Valley’s Birdseye ski run. Races are free to the public and can be viewed from the Silver Lake area at mid-mountain. The Skifest’s host property, Montage Deer Valley, will be the location of additional evening events throughout the weekend with all proceeds to benefit Waterkeeper Alliance. The event has raised over $5 million since the partnership began in 2006.
Festivities throughout the weekend are featured in the number-one rated winter sports television special on CBS, broadcast to more than one million viewers. The 2014 Deer Valley Celebrity Skifest is scheduled to air on CBSSunday, December 14, 2014, at 5 p.m. EST (after the NFL).
Some of the best-known legends of U.S. skiing are scheduled to compete in this year’s event, including Steve Mahre, Phil Mahre, Tommy Moe and Deer Valley’s own Ambassador of Skiing, Heidi Voelker. Previous guests have included Academy Award-winning actors Glenn Close and Marcia Gay Harden; Emmy Award-winning actors Larry David and Neil Patrick Harris; Paul Mitchell Systems President John Paul DeJoria; Grammy Award-winning artists Miranda Lambert, Mary J. Blige, Train, Melissa Etheridge and musical talents Natasha Bedingfield, Gavin DeGraw, Gavin Rossdale and James Blunt. This year’s Skifest is sure to bring another amazing group of supporters including Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Cheryl Hines, Giancarlo Esposito, Rachael Harris and a special performance by Grammy Award-winning country group Lady Antebellum.
The Deer Valley Celebrity Skifest is presented by JUMA Entertainment. For more information on the event please visit DVskifest.com. To follow the event on social media, search #dvskifest.
On a warm sunny day, during the #DeerValleySummer, I headed out of the office and caught up with Bryon and Brad Wilson at the Utah Olympic Park in Park City, Utah. It was my first time at the Utah Olympic Park and I was surprised to see so many skiers jumping off of ramps into water and then swimming to the edge of the pool with skis on. Air bubbles, operated by a Utah Olympic Park employee, softened landings into the pool. I thought this was an ingenious idea.
For those of you who might not know, Deer Valley Resort sponsors Bryon and Brad Wilson, two of the current U.S. Freestyle Ski Team athletes. Deer Valley began sponsoring Bryon in 2010 and in 2012 added Brad to their roster of athletes. I wanted to know what it took to be a world-class athlete and how a winter athlete trains when the snow melts.
Ryan: How do you guys train during the summer?
Bryon: We have a great facility at the Utah Olympic Park, where I spend a lot of my time.There are many ways for us to access crucial training time nowadays. Later this summer, we will be in Whistler BC, Canada, getting some snow time on the glacier.
Ryan: As brothers do you always train together or do you have different training techniques?
Brad: We always train with each other, which is really nice because we are constantly pushing each other.
Ryan: How often will you be at the Utah Olympic Park training?
Bryon: We can get a good two months at the Utah Olympic Park. I really enjoy training up here.
Ryan: What is the biggest difference jumping into water instead of onto snow?
Brad: Jumping in water allows you to crash without the consequences you have crashing on snow. And a lot of crashing is involved when learning a new trick.
Ryan: What do you wish to improve upon, going into next ski season?
Brad: I am currently ranked fourth overall and there is a lot I need to work on to be in that top spot. Improving my jumping skills is going to be a major focus this summer.
Bryon: I’m always looking to push my abilities to the next level and learn something new to help myself improve.
Ryan: Looking back on the last ski season, what stands out the most for each of you?
Brad: The Olympic experience stands out the most for me. Being able to compete in the Olympics has been a dream ever since I started competing.
Bryon: One thing that stands out for me every year is competing at Deer Valley Resort in front of huge crowds. I also love Champion ski run.
Ryan: What do you guys do for fun, when you are not skiing?
Bryon: We got into mountain biking since we moved to Park City, also golfing and fishing.
Brad: The thing I do most is art; I think it’s the perfect thing to do to relax in between training sessions.
Ryan: How did you get into art, Brad?
Brad: Being from Montana, we grew up in the outdoors. Everything we did, we did outside. But the art is just something I was inspired to start doing and have been trying to perfect ever since.
Ryan: What do you have coming up in the next few months?
Brad: Off-season training is in full force. It is going to be very busy until the snow falls. We’re in Whistler this summer for three weeks, we go to Mount. Hood for a week, then Chile for two and a half weeks. Next, we go to Switzerland in September for another three weeks. Between these camps, we will be spending our time at the Utah Olympic Park.
Have you ever gone off the ski jumps at the Utah Olympic Park? Tell me about it in the comments below or on Twitter @RyanMayfield or @Deer_Valley and don’t forget to keep up with the Wilson brothers on Twitter; Bryon @BryonWilson10 Brad @Wilsfreestyle
Beginning today, competition for the second annual World Ski Awards commences and Deer Valley Resort hopes to maintain its title as United States’ Best Ski Resort from the inaugural award year and vie for World’s Best Ski Resort. The World Ski Awards serves to celebrate and reward excellence in ski tourism and focuses on the leading 20 nations that are shaping the future of the ski industry. Launched in 2013, World Ski Awards was developed in reaction to an overwhelming demand from the ski industry for a fair and transparent program with a mission to serve as the definitive benchmark of ski tourism excellence.
“Deer Valley Resort won the distinction of being named United States’ Best Ski Resort for 2013 among a short list of USA finalists,” said Bob Wheaton, president and general manager of Deer Valley Resort. “It was an honor to have our commitment to excellence rewarded by industry peers and the guests and fans of the resort who voted for us. We strive to work just as hard every year and will hopefully continue on to be named World’s Best Ski Resort.”
Voting for the 2014 World Ski Awards opens June 6 and closes September 26, 2014. This year’s country winners will be announced at a red carpet World Ski Awards ceremony at the A-ROSA Kitzbühel, Austria, on November 22, 2014, as part of the three-day program of VIP events and networking activities. Voting will take place at worldskiawards.com and World Ski Awards’ Facebook page.
The World Ski Awards is part of World Travel Awards, currently celebrating 21 years as “the Oscars of the travel industry.” For more information on the award and voting for Deer Valley® as World’s Best Ski Resort, please refer to the resort’s website at deervalley.com.
In this day and age, any tenure that spans a third of a century is remarkable enough. However, when it also entails two vastly different careers, the feat becomes truly exceptional. Georgia Anderson began her employment with Deer Valley Resort in Human Resources before becoming the director of that department. About 15 years later, she re-invented herself by becoming the director of merchandising and logo licensing! This speaks volumes about the unlimited commitment and energy Deer Valley employees are capable of and how their unwavering leadership can inspire the next generation of employees.
JF: What prepared you for your current career with Deer Valley Resort?
Georgia Anderson: I grew up in Salt Lake City and moved to Park City in 1980; I was working for a small company in town. When I heard that a new ski resort was in the planning process, I immediately applied for a position. I interviewed with Deer Valley and obtained a position as an accounting clerk. The day before I was supposed to start, the director of human resources called me and said, “The person we hired to be my assistant is not coming and we’d love to have you take the job; what do you want to do?” I thought about it and said “Sure, I’ll be in human resources, why not?” As I came on board, things began to grow very fast. After a few months I was made a supervisor and a couple of years later, I became the director of human resources.
JF: So more than looking for a specific job, your desire was to be part of a new, innovative company?
Georgia Anderson: Yes and that’s where it gets interesting because sometimes I wonder what would have happened to me if I had not made that choice at the very beginning. I feel so fortunate to have been here during those earlier years, when everything was being planned, the policies were developed and the vision was being formed on how we would become like the Stanford Court Hotel in San Francisco. I even remember personally visiting and experiencing that wonderful hotel and being part of this revolutionary change in the ski industry. At that time, the resort wasn’t open yet and the Snow Park Lodge was still under construction.
JF: Where was your office located?
Georgia Anderson: Our first office was where Starbucks is today on Park Avenue. We were there until the resort opened on December 26, 1981, when our first winter season began and we moved to the new Snow Park Lodge.
JF: Now, you need to explain how you found yourself as director of human resources one day and director of merchandising the next?
Georgia Anderson: I wasn’t looking for a change, but at that time, the retail shop and logo licensing was handled by an outside company. The resort owner really wanted to bring that function inhouse and have someone in charge who understood the brand, had passion for that project and could take the lead. Our attorney for the resort knew that, and since we were working closely on human resources issues, she also knew me well. So one day, out of the blue, she called me and said, “Georgia, you have a degree in fashion-merchandising and I think you should consider becoming the new director of merchandising!”
JF: How did you respond?
Georgia Anderson: I first said, ”What are you talking about?” I was afraid to make a change but after thinking it over I decided that I could to do this. I loved the challenge, yet it was a huge shift for me, from dealing with thousands of employees to moving into merchandise and product development.
JF: When was that?
Georgia Anderson: It’s been about 16 years.
JF: How did you actually get this program started at Deer Valley Resort?
Georgia Anderson: We brought it inhouse and we established two Signatures stores; one here in Snow Park and the other at Silver Lake, then we moved the Snow Park location upstairs and added our Main Street store later on.
JF: Are you just in charge of the Signatures stores?
Georgia Anderson: No, I also oversee NextGen DV, the children outerwear store that we’ve been operating for three years. Also we have Shades of Deer Valley, our sunglasses and goggles specialty shop at Snow Park that we’ve been operating for seven years, and finally, also at Snow Park, there’s Deer Valley Etc., the espresso bar where we offer a lot of fun kitchen and gift items as well as a large selection of logo mugs.
JF: How many employees work in these stores?
Georgia Anderson: There are about 65 employees, mostly part-time, but they are an amazing group of individuals!
JF: What about online sales?
Georgia Anderson: We’ve been selling online for about 10 years and this business has grown steadily over time. Today we’re looking forward to making a change with our eCommerce cart that should boost our volume further. Our most popular online purchases are Deer Valley Gift Cards and the Turkey Chili mix.
JF: Were you also involved with the 2002 Store during the winter games?
Georgia Anderson: Absolutely! As we moved towards the 2002 Winter Olympics, just before the turn of the century, we added our 2002 Store, which was located in the Snow Park Lodge where SharpShooter Imaging is today. We operated that store throughout the 2001 – 2002 winter season. We were able to offer some incredible items, including our own Deer Valley Olympic pins, which was both a wonderful and fun merchandising opportunity!
JF: Besides the pins, what did you sell?
Georgia Anderson: We offered merchandise that had both Olympic and Deer Valley logos since we were an official venue and were in the midst of so many Olympic competitions.
JF: While we are on the subject of the Deer Valley logo, how did it get started and how was the brand created?
Georgia Anderson: My understanding is that the “Deer Valley” name itself was Polly Stern’s idea. Polly was the wife of Edgar Stern, founder of Deer Valley. I believe that the ad agency at the time created the logo and that Polly was also closely involved with its development and design. It has evolved ever so slightly over the years, but the deer head inside the aspen leaf has always remained. We are very fortunate to work with a brand and a logo that are so powerful and carry such widespread recognition.
JF: How are new items sourced and developed for your Signatures stores?
Georgia Anderson: Sometimes people approach me with design ideas; of course, we attend many trade shows, we also have some long standing vendors that may come up with new variations on their designs, but the most fun for us is when we’re creating something totally new, like Christmas ornaments. For instance, we took inspiration from our mascots, like “Bucky the Deer,” and last year we developed a 3-D ornament featuring Bucky on skis. Step-by-step, we’ve seen this project evolve from a rough concept into a completely finished product and the whole process has been extremely gratifying!
JF: Someone mentioned the Avalanche Dog merchandise to me; what is that?
Georgia Anderson: I’m glad you asked! About a year and a half ago, our Ski Patrol avalanche dog handlers approached me and said they are always asked by guests about the availability of merchandise featuring their rescue dogs. So this is how we developed the Avalanche Rescue Dog collection, with its distinctive dog and deer logo! When you purchase these articles, the proceeds go the Avalanche Rescue Dog program; this is a great way to sponsor the dogs and provide a great gift idea for guests who want to reward the person watching after their dog while they’re visiting Deer Valley!
JF: What are your best selling items?
Georgia Anderson: As I explained, we have many different stores, but the number-one selling item in all of them is the Turkey Chili mix! Another popular item is our little replica trail signs that we can even customize. We also sell lots of t-shirts, ball caps and coffee mugs.
JF: All are wonderful Deer Valley memories that people can use or see year-round!
Georgia Anderson: Exactly!
JF: What is your driving philosophy in picking a new product?
Georgia Anderson: First and foremost, it needs to reflect what Deer Valley Resort stands for in terms of quality and design. It can be playful though and doesn’t have to be serious all the time. We call this process passing the “Polly Test.” By this, we mean that when we’re considering new merchandise, we always ask, “Would Polly Stern approve of it?” Today, when we decide on a new product, there are things we feel good about and things that might concern us. If an item elicits too many questions or raises too many doubts, we simply won’t select it.
JF: How do you arrive at your price points?
Georgia Anderson: We cover all price points. Our products always represent an excellent value; for instance, anyone can come into our stores and find a good quality t-shirt that’s not overpriced.
JF: Can you give us a few examples, ranging from the most expensive down to the most affordable item?
Georgia Anderson: Sure, we have a 14-carat gold necklace with diamonds on it, made locally, priced at over $1,600 and a sticker that only costs a couple of dollars. We also offer a full range of polo shirts priced from $39 to $99!
JF: What have been the most important lessons you’ve learned over these 33 years with Deer Valley Resort?
Georgia Anderson: I think attention to detail is paramount. The little things take a lot of time, but they add up to a whole lot and can make a tremendous difference. Even though it takes so much energy to attend to the most minute detail, we take the time to always do it and we constantly take pride in doing things right!
JF: Now, if you keep that focus on details into consideration and take a sweeping view over your entire tenure with the company, what is your own personal definition of the “Deer Valley Difference?”
Georgia Anderson: It is the combined dedication and commitment from everyone to keep passionate about doing things right and keeping going back to our roots. We are not standing still though, as we always strive to improve our products and services. This approach is ingrained into our culture and we embrace change while preserving the personal touch.