Let's see, it's officially summer, right? That means you've taken the snow tires off the car. Your skis, boots and poles are stashed in the basement. Your parka and gloves are tucked away in
the bureau . . . Wait a minute, does that mean you won't be venturing up here again until next November?Not if Randy Montgomery and the hundreds of other business owners now converting this winter resort into a summer playground have anything to say about it - and they will.
The snow has melted in Park City - at least most of it has - and the wildflowers are blooming in its place. It's time for golf, tennis, swimming, hiking, camping, mountain biking, shopping, browsing and eating out . . . not to mention that perennial favorite, goofing off.
Whatever your thing, Park City has it, and you can probably get it cheaper here in summer than in winter, says Montgomery, general manager of The Resort Center Lodge & Inn, the complex located at the base of the Park City Ski Area (yes, that's its official name).
"Things are really moving here, you can feel it," says Montgomery, who came to Park City a year ago from Snowbird where he was vice president of marketing.
Montgomery believes Utah's selection as the U.S. nominee for the 1998 Winter Olympics is already beginning to pay off with a renewed sense of community among those who live and/or work in Park City. Even if Japan and not the United States gets the nod in 1998 - as some believe will happen - he thinks Utah will still be on track for the 2002 Games.
As for whether Utahns should support the idea of bringing the Games here, Montgomery doesn't hesitate: "We'd be crazy not to take advantage of this opportunity. Utah doesn't have too many aces in its hand, so we absolutely have to play the ones we are dealt."
Meanwhile, the boost that the Games bid has given Park City - which would host several skiing events - is already being felt, he believes, even in the long-depressed real estate market, which is showing signs of resurgence.
Nevertheless, the Park City tourism industry is once more up against the annual concern of ski resorts everywhere: How do you keep the cash registers ringing in the summer?
Park City has adopted a three-pronged marketing strategy to meet the challenge:
1. AMENITIES. Golf courses, tennis courts, swimming pools, the ice skating rink (currently being rebuilt on the Resort Center Plaza), the Alpine Slide, the ski gondola for sightseeing . . . these and others help create the draw for some 180,000 summer visitors last year.
2. SPECIAL EVENTS. The Park City Arts Festival, concerts at Park West, the Autumn Aloft hot air balloon event, Utah Symphony at Deer Valley and the Showdown Classic at Jeremy Ranch also draw visitors from across the state and beyond. The arts festival, now in its 20th year, will draw as many as 100,000 people in its two-day run Aug. 5-6.
3. PRICE. Rooms and condominiums can be had for one-half or even a third of the prices they command in the winter season, a major drawing card for small convention groups looking for high-end rooms at low-end prices.
That's the plan and it seems to be working. Summer in Park City, as they call it, saw sales climb 29 percent in 1988 over 1987, which logged a 39 percent increase over 1986. The Park City Area Chamber of Commerce/Convention & Visitors Bureau is projecting another 20 percent increase for this summer.
Helping to fuel those increases, says Montgomery, has been the "discovery" of Park City by Arizona retirees who are wending their way north to spend the summer months in the cooler climes of Summit County. The Resort Center encourages this trend by hosting an annual reception in the Phoenix-area retirement community, Sun City.
Then there's mountain biking. Bicycling in general is a growth industry with the number of adults who ride each week up from 20 million in 1988 to 24 million this year. Mountain bike sales are leading the pace with 1989 sales projected to be 8.5 million, up from only 200,000 in 1983.
Although the Moab area has been getting the lion's share of national publicity for its mountain biking trails, Park City is also moving quickly to capitalize on this new sport. The Park City/Bureau has compiled a detailed map of area cycling routes which is available at the Visitor Information Center/Museum on Main Street for $1.
Park City is also hosting Utah's largest cycling event this year, the 1989 U.S. National Cycling Championships July 11-20. Some 700 national-caliber cyclists will be in the city to participate in time trials, a road race and criterium. The best of the group will represent the United States in the World Championships in France in August.
If all this sounds too good to be true, it's not. But neither will summer at Park City be completely free of problems.
For one thing, getting to Park City from Salt Lake City will require more patience of motorists than in the past as construction work on U-224 from I-80 into the city has created, and will continue to create, traffic bottlenecks. But the four-lane access that will result when the work is completed will be worth the temporary hassles now.
Also, the shortage of service personnel that reached critical proportions last winter will remain to plague employers this summer, says Montgomery.
"It's a real problem. There are simply not enough employees to go around. Last winter there were 300 unfilled jobs in Park City, and it means a lot of jumping around. Employees will leave you for an extra quarter an hour."
Montgomery said the labor shortage has engendered some radical thinking as employers attempt to solve the problem. Some have suggested busing people to Park City from homeless shelters in Salt Lake to fill some of the $5.50 an hour jobs _ hardly minimum wage _ that go begging.
Montgomery attributes the labor shortage to the conservative mentality that has predominated during the years of President Reagan. "Ski bums" _ the people who traditionally fill such jobs _ are in short supply as many young people decide not to take time to "find themselves" but instead move right into their careers.
On the other hand, Park City has it easy compared to other ski resorts, he says, mainly because of a relatively large labor pool available in nearby Salt Lake and Utah counties and the relatively inexpensive housing available here compared to Aspen, Vail and other "high-end" ski towns where maids, busboys, waiters and other service personnel command $8 an hour in wages.
Still, there will remain more jobs than people to fill them in Park City. While it has not reached the stage where guests are aware of it, says Montgomery, "we are approaching that point."
Ironically, labor shortages and many of the other dilemmas that business owners will face this summer in Park City are due mostly to one thing: Business is picking up, and that prosperity brings a new spate of problems that don't come up during a flat economy.
Never mind, they'll live with it.