Pittsburgh native Todd Shallan got his first restaurant job at 14 to support his skiing habit. As an adult, he took ski vacations to Deer Valley Resort and, this past fall, became the resort’s president and COO, replacing retiring Bob Wheaton, who was at the helm since 1988 and on staff since 1981.
Park City Magazine: Your first winter turned out to have the best snow conditions in recent memory.
You’re welcome! [Laughs.] It was awesome. The employees, the guests, everyone was just happier. That’s cool.
PCM: You moved from Texas, where you managed an indoor skydiving center for one of Deer Valley’s new owners. Before that, you managed fine resort hotels like the Del Coronado and Arizona Biltmore. Why was a hotel guy chosen to run a ski resort?
TS: I worked for one of the owners of Alterra Mountain Company (which purchased Deer Valley in 2017) for about 20 years. When you manage multifaceted resorts, there’s a lot of different moving parts. At golf resorts, I had to learn about turf management and agronomy. Here, I have to learn about snowmaking, lift maintenance, and more. But, at its core, it’s still the hospitality business. There are tremendous similarities.
PCM: You replaced a guy with 38 years of institutional memory.
TS: How could I download 38 years of experience? There’s just no way. But we really hit it off from the beginning and have a lot of the same management style. I love having Bob’s input, and we’ve spent hours just talking about why things are done certain ways.
PCM: How will you run things differently?
TS: I just have a different focus. Bob was very focused on the mountain and the day-to-day operation of a ski resort. I’m going to be more focused on the hospitality piece. The mountain is as close to perfect as you can get, so we don’t need to make a whole lot of changes there.
PCM: What changes do you see on the hospitality side?
TS: We’re restricted on the size of our lodges, but that doesn’t mean we can’t offer new restaurants or new themes and services. We do very little après-ski—I think there’s a huge opportunity to expand that. The other piece is technology. We’re going to add RFID (radio frequency identification) gates. We love our ticket checkers, but their role is going to become more ambassadors than ticket police.
PCM: Longer term, there are two major expansion opportunities. On the Mayflower side, Extell Development owns 2,300 acres contiguous to the resort with thoughts of developing ski properties and expanding Deer Valley’s footprint. And on the Snow Park parking lots, you have entitlements allowing development. What happens first?
TS: We’re in conversations with Extell, and probably over the next year the direction of these projects will become more transparent to all of us, but right now I’d be guessing. As for the parking lots, we’ve dusted off plans that were completed 10 years ago to understand what was proposed. If you ask me in a year, I might be able to provide more details.
PCM: Everyone’s asking—will the snowboard ban stay, and will the number of skiers still be capped on busy days?
TS: Those two features won’t change. Because the Ikon day pass is not restricted, we did see more visitors on the mountain. On a given Wednesday in February, we probably had 500 more skiers because of Ikon. There are other days when we’re busier, especially when the Cottonwood Canyons close. There were maybe eight days this year when we saw a lot more business than we expected, so that’s a learning curve. I think overall the Ikon and Epic passes are doing really good things for skiing. They’re making skiing more affordable, and there are now 70 resorts you can ski between the two passes.
Joining Shallan in his Park City move is his wife of 27 years, Kate. His son Geordy is in a band—and the hotel business—in California; his daughter, Makena, is at school in London.
Picks From the New Guy
• Blue groomers or deep powder? I grew up in the East, so there was no such thing as powder, but I’m learning.
• Favorite runs? Tycoon and Stein’s Way. I’m way too old for the bumps.
• Skier’s lunch? The fondue at Goldener Hirsch. Not quite on the mountain, but close.
• Special occasion dinner? Fireside Dining at Empire Lodge.
• Books and movies? I’m an action thriller guy, so Tom Clancy books and movies like Mission Impossible.
• Music? I play drums, and mostly what I play is ’80s rock. Green Day is one of my favorites.