$3.4 Million in Improvements You’ll Love

By Jann Wiswall

As soon as last year’s ski season ended, Holiday Valley began spending its time and $3.4 million in resources making some major improvements intended to enhance every second of your experience. With the snow last week, the resort and the season’s first skiers/boarders were able to test out some of its great new investments with a preview weekend Nov. 21-23.

Due to the epic snowstorm in Buffalo, which closed roads heading to Ellicottville from points north, visitors for opening preview day on Friday, Nov. 21 primarily included local skiers and boarders, who enjoyed terrific snow all day long. According to Holiday Valley Marketing Director Jane Eshbaugh, things picked up on Saturday with fewer road closures and warmer temperatures.

“People said they were glad to start early with the great snow, but also to get their pass pictures, lockers, etc. so they’re all set when the season officially begins November 28,” she said.

While you’re here Thanksgiving weekend — with Friday, Nov. 28 the official opening day of ski season — you’ll want to keep your eye out for some of the new features added since you were last here.

First and foremost, you’ll notice three new connecting trails on your slope maps. One, from the top of Morning Star to Crystal, is named Peppermint Lane. Another, from Sunrise to Bear Cub, is Bear Paw. The third, an extension of Cindy’s, gives beginners access from the Inn at Holiday Valley to the base area and the Snowsports School from Sunrise.

Another obvious addition is the stone clock tower and bridge outside the main lodge. The clock tower’s design is similar to the one razed during the 2012 construction of the new lodge and serves as a charming meeting place and information station.

If you’re staying at the Inn at Holiday Valley, you’ll notice décor and other renovations, including new furniture, carpets, wall treatments and countertops to make guests’ stays even more comfortable and cozy. Incidentally, the Inn has a “2 Ski Free” promotion running through Dec. 24. For each night you stay, get two lift tickets free.

Behind the scenes, Holiday Valley invested significant resources to provide more weather independence. Fifty-eight new HKD Impulse automated snowguns were installed on Snowledge, The Wall, Morning Star and Crystal, giving the resort the ability to make even more and better quality snow all season long across the mountain. A turbo fan gun also is being installed at the Holiday Valley Tubing Park, which is scheduled to open Dec. 20, weather permitting.

Several non-winter season improvements were made and have received rave reviews. Sky High Adventure Park’s new black diamond course — the Black Widow — was wildly popular all summer long, as was the new hiking trail that was cut from the top of the Spruce Lake chairlift to Sky High.

Down by the main lodge, the resort improved the deck around the pools with space for outdoor games, and built a new, timber-frame canopy over the Cabana Bar. And at the award-winning Double Black Diamond Golf Course, bunkers on the back nine were rebuilt this fall.

If you’re new to Holiday Valley, you might be interested in some other facts about the resort.

For the second year in a row, Holiday Valley has been ranked as 5th best in the East by Ski magazine. Resort President Dennis Eshbaugh credits the entire staff’s commitment to “listening to our guests and providing what they want” for the continued accolades.

Specifically, the magazine ranked the resort’s lift system No. 1 for the third year in a row. “Kid friendliness,” one of Holiday Valley’s key targets, was ranked No. 2. On-mountain food was ranked No. 2 for the second year in a row. Service, dining and après ski were all ranked third. Access, sustainability (a new category), off-hill activities and overall satisfaction were ranked No.  5. Grooming was up seven places to No. 7 and terrain parks jumped three places to No. 9.

The mountain has a top elevation of 2,250 feet, a base elevation of 1,500 feet and a vertical drop of 750 feet. The resort is situated on 1,400 acres, with 300 skiable acres during the day and 180 acres at night. There are 58 slopes for 30 miles of skiing/boarding, 13 lifts, five terrain parks and 10 miles of cross-country/snowshoeing trails.

Year-round amenities include a spa, several dining venues (some seasonal), free Wi-Fi and extensive conference and event services for groups of up to 1,000.

Plus, Holiday Valley hosts numerous fundraising and “fun-raising” events all year long. Visit www.holidayvalley.com.