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Valley Ice Rinks Thrive During Holiday Season

Published: Friday, December 13, 2013 - 2:11pm
Updated: Monday, December 16, 2013 - 3:29pm
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(Photo by Mark Brodie-KJZZ)
Ice Den officials say the outdoor rink less than three miles away helps, not hurts.
(Photo by Mark Brodie-KJZZ)
The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess has an outdoor skating rink during the holiday season.

CityScape is home to one of the Valley’s outdoor holiday rinks, but it is not the only one. Even though wintertime in the Valley does not generally include snow or even temperatures that would allow snow to stick on the ground, you can still pretend you are skating around that massive tree at Rockefeller Center without leaving Phoenix.

Pam Gilbert is the director of sales and marketing at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, which has had an outdoor rink during the past couple of holiday seasons.

"It’s definitely driving more people in for dining, but we also have a nice retail experience," said Gilbert.

The rink is real ice. Gilbert said there are nine miles of chillers to keep it frozen and that about 70 percent of the skaters are locals, but the outdoor rinks do not seem to be affecting attendance at year-round ones.

"At the end of the day, we recognize that they don’t really do what we do," said Mike O'Hearn, president of Coyotes Ice, LLC, which owns and operates the Ice Den in Scottsdale, less than three miles away from the Fairmont.

"They do it on such a small level, for really such a short time period, to me it’s not a takeaway. If anything, it’s kind of an enhancement," said O'Hearn. "It reminds people that skating is fun and that it’s a great activity, but if there’s any spillover that comes from that, they might remember that they enjoyed skating at that facility and say, ‘You know what, the Ice Den’s just down the road, let’s go over there now and maybe get involved in their programs.’"

And, O’Hearn said it works the other way, too. For the last two years, Ice Den skaters have produced short shows and performed at the resort.

"The kids get a kick out of it, and it’s a really nice opportunity for them, of course the families and parents and everybody of these kids get a chance to come together and come watch them in a different environment," O'Hearn said.

The Fairmont’s Gilbert agreed saying her rink helps the Ice Den.

"We have lots of kids that come out and try skating for the first time. This is an easy way to do it and a fun, holiday way to do it, and then they find they have an interest, and then they find they have new customers that go and visit them on the year-round basis, where they’ve got ice year-round," Gilbert explained.

Gilbert said her rink will close for the season in early January, but she also said resort officials are already thinking about ways to improve on it for next year.

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