Property managers are key professionals who make a resort town tick, but their services often go unnoticed. They make visitors feel welcome and comfortable, and homeowners rest easy knowing their properties are well cared for. By the nature of the business, property managers work their magic behind the scenes. We take some time to get to know this key resort industry and understand the diversity of services by talking to three Park City firms and the people who keep these businesses humming.
By Ann Zimmerman
Speaking with Park City’s professionals, we find the property management field is especially interesting because it is young industry. Its origins lie in responses to the distinctive needs of resort life. As resorts upgrade, offer more luxury, and every year outdo themselves to make vacation experiences more seamlessly enjoyable, the services provided by property managers similarly reach higher. Here is an opportunity for a close-up view into three operations—their individual approaches, innovations, and of some of the available services that offer benefits to those looking for the right fit for rental or management. Service is indeed the driver for these firms.
Elevating the Level of Luxury
Resorts West’s current COO, James Ballstaedt, cofounded Park City-based Resorts West 14 years ago with his brother, Joe Ballstaedt. When asked what motivated the brothers to establish their new company, James answered, “When we started, no one was focused on the luxury side of property management. We established our company to cater to the traveler who wants a luxury product and luxury services while in a private home. We wanted to take property management to the next level.”
The company has grown to 150 employees, and includes two arms: the primary Resorts West arm, which includes vacation rentals, and Mountain Estate Management, which offers home maintenance for owners who do not wish to rent. As president and COO, James oversees all operations and homeowner relations. “It’s hands-on and labor-intensive, and I have a great staff to work with. I feel we are successful because there is not another company that understands the duality of the client base—the owners and renters. It can be a juggling act, but we focus on both equally. In a luxury market, there is a closer gap between the owners and renters. The owners want to offer people who stay at their home a good experience similar to their own guests, and the renters live in a similar caliber home to the resort rental, and they respect the property,” says James Ballstaedt.
“We take service to the next level,” explains James. “When guests arrive, we escort them to the property and familiarize them with how things work. We assign a concierge to assist and plan their stay: ski rentals, baby sitters, reservations, and even real estate. Housekeeping, maintenance, and the front desk are all staffed with our employees and readily accessible.” When asked about the owners of homes, he adds, “We extend this same level of service, including concierge, to the owners of the homes we manage. In preparation for their return, we shop for a big grocery list and have the home set as they like it.”
With so many fine hotels opening in Park City, we asked James why his clients prefer staying in a private home. “There is greater privacy staying in a home. Some of our clients are businesses on retreat, and they are able to spend more time interacting together.” Ballstaedt notes that for guests and families who enjoy nestling into a home, Resorts West makes arrangements for private chefs to come in and cook, and even arranges for butlers. Indeed, the luxury homes in Resorts West’s portfolio are designed and equipped to offer extensive amenities for entertainment and recreation.Another service is transportation. Resorts West offers a complimentary shuttle service to restaurants, Main Street, and all three resorts. Additionally, Resorts West arranges travel, including by private jet, transportation to Park City, a private ski instructor or mountain host, a First Tracks ski pass, and even travel insurance. And weddings? “We offer weddings in special circumstances as part of a ‘leave no trace’ approach to special events, which minimizes impact to the home. We plan entertainment, caterers, and all the needs for special events.”
“We initiated Resorts West Real Estate in order to fill a need of our guests; it is a natural fit,” recounts Ballstaedt. “We created a brokerage, and we see it as an expansion of our concierge services to show our guests homes they are interested in during their stay.”
Ballstaedt calls out Marissa Sweeney as an example of the commitment that Resorts West’s staff extends. “She is Owner Relations Manager, and she has learned what homeowners want and need, and she doesn’t let homeowners go without. We hire the best of the best.”
Once ResortQuest, Now Wyndham Vacation Rentals
ResortQuest has been managing and renting properties in Park City for 35 years, and is now boasting a new name, Wyndham Vacation Rentals. “We became part of Wyndham Worldwide, and our new name indicates the resources we can extend by being part of a major company. For example, we have a much higher standard of security on our website, offer a ‘Vacation Rental Bill of Rights,’ and have an owner home exchange program,” explains Jason Schnaitter, General Manager of Wyndham Vacation Rentals, Park City. “At the same time, we have experienced personnel who have worked for us for a long time, know our owners, are familiar with our units, and have long been part of the community. We continue to manage both rental and non-rental properties.”
Wyndham Vacation Rentals manages 300 rental units that include condominiums and homes. “We have moderate and luxury properties, and we have rentals in all three resort areas. All our condos are fully equipped, and we have choices for private homes in the 5,000–6,000-square-foot range,” notes Jason. “It adds up to quite a diversity of choices from moderately priced quick getaways to high
Customer service and satisfaction seem to inspire continuous upgrades. Examples are newly installed Wi-Fi and a full conversion to flat-screen TVs in all properties, scheduled to be completed by autumn. “We survey our guests after their stay and take their comments about what we can do better very seriously,” notes Jason. Wyndham Vacation Rentals offers round-the-clock services with its in-house cleaning and maintenance staff, and in-house laundry. People in Park City staff the 24-hour reservation line. “It really makes a difference when the agents who answer the telephone are familiar with all the units and can explain the extras and the location, and they know the area.” Local personnel also staff concierge and travel services to assist with airport transportation, dinner reservations, tickets, and other travel help before or during the stay. “We rent skis and equipment in advance and have a shared space with Christy Sports. Also, we operate a local shuttle service,” Jason sums up.-end luxury with lots of amenities. The owners provide their homes a delightful character so that each offers a unique experience.”
In addition to the reservation line, the website posts rental availability in real time, and there are extensive detailed photographs of every rental. “Our detailed descriptions and photographs support the Wyndham Vacation Rental Bill of Rights,” Jason explains. “It is a corporate statement to the effect that we believe every traveler is entitled to certain expectations when they choose a vacation rental, and these are called out. We work to ensure that we provide abundant information so that renters are comfortable with their selections. I suggest that readers deal only with companies that offer this level of assurance.”
And services for the property owners? “Each property owner has a personal representative who is committed to the care of the property and personally assists them. The representative walks and inspects the property before renting or before the owner returns home,” answers Jason. “Owners also benefit from the Wyndham Home Exchange—an opportunity to exchange a week of time with 4,000 properties around the world in places like Tuscany or Cape Town.”
When asked whether the company will continue to support community events, Jason answers, “Indeed, we still provide lodging for visiting artists to the Kimball Art Center, and we are an official lodging sponsor for the Sundance Film Festival.”
A Focus on Owners and Powerful On-Line Technology
“All Seasons Resort Lodging focuses on owners,” says Jason Linder, Vice President of Sales & Marketing. “Everything revolves around the owners, and taking care of rental guests is only part of that success. Our mission statement has three main owner-focused points: To maximize rental revenue; to provide high levels of owner (customer) service; and to effectively care for their investment. We realize without owners we have no business.”
Founded in 1999 in Park City with just three properties, All Seasons Resort Lodging now manages 800+ units between 17 properties and four resort destinations: Park City, Aspen, Santa Fe, and San Diego. “Our focus and strength is managing rental units in condominium hotels and condominium developments and managing the home owners associations (HOAs) of both types,” says Linder.
For maintaining the rental units, Jason explains that homeowners have many options, but most choose All Seasons where they have an onsite presence. “Yes, they can choose, and 65 out of 66 owners in Silver King opt for us to manage their condos.”
We ask Jason what inspired such a high proportion to choose All Seasons Resort Lodging for rental services? “Beyond strong revenues, we don’t nickel and dime our owners. Our commission is all-inclusive and includes credit card fees and travel agent commissions. They don’t pay extra to change a light bulb, which can be infuriating for owners: the first 30 minutes of maintenance calls are free, and only involved repairs are charged extra. We also have an outstanding homeowner liaison that that does everything from arranging airport transportation and acting as their interior decorator to offering complimentary ski passes or something similar, when possible. Lastly, we do a detailed housekeeping and maintenance survey before their stay, provide a VIP arrival gift basket, and we offer unlimited, complimentary housekeeping services after their stay.”
For visitors to the Sundial Lodge, Silver King Hotel, the Lodge at the Mountain Village, Shadow Ridge Resort Hotel, and other condominium hote
ls on the roster, the staff who serve guests are employees of All Seasons. “Yes, for reservations, reception, bell service, housekeeping, maintenance, and the on-demand shuttle, all are our employees. This allows us to better control the level of service, and it is the case for properties where we serve as the on-site rental operator or HOA manager.”
For guests who stay at complexes without a reception desk, All Seasons’ move to new office space in Kimball Junction, shared by the Visitors’ Center, just made check-in more convenient. “The views are incredible to the Utah Olympic Park and new cross-country trails,” Jason notes with pleasure.
All Seasons Resort Lodging categorizes about a quarter of the units as premium class. To qualify for this designation, the units must have passed a detailed evaluation, including upgraded kitchens and appointments that Jason calls, “top of the line.” Booking premium class units entitles guests to a private, complimentary concierge. The concierge calls guests in advance of the stay and offers advice, makes equipment reservations, arranges transportation, buys ski tickets, orders groceries delivered in, and basically handles anything to enhance guests’ stay.
The website has and continues to be a power alley for All Seasons. “We have always prided ourselves on being ahead of the curve with powerful technology,” says Linder, who is also involved in All Seasons’ affiliate technology company, EventRez Solutions. “We manage our rates and inventory on a proprietary platform similar to how airlines operate, where we constantly adjust pricing and promotional offerings with the intent of maximizing rate and occupancy. It pays to keep checking back with us!”
Growing out of an unmet need in the market, the affiliate EventRez Solutions now offers third party, white-label booking platforms utilized by the Sundance Film Festival, Utah.com, KSL.com, and soon some other prominent sites.
Choices for Service
There are so many reminders that Dog Town/Park City isn’t what it used to be. Dogs are now on leashes, and Park City is a resort town that has grown up. The many options for managing property and quality rental operations are just another indicator that Park City has taken its place at the table of fine resorts worldwide.