By Deb Everts

 In the heat of summer it’s hard to think “snow,” but officials at Holiday Valley already have the white stuff in mind as work continues to prepare the resort for the upcoming ski season.

Holiday Valley recently announced it is undergoing $3.3 million in upgrades for the 2019-20 winter season. Dennis Eshbaugh, president of Holiday Valley, said the skiers and riders of all ages and abilities will see improvements that will make their visit more enjoyable.

“As an independent resort, we are very proud of what we have been able to accomplish in our 62-year history,” he said. “Together with this year’s projects, we have reinvested over $135 million in the resort over the past 25 years.”

This year’s improvements to the resort include expanded snowmaking, a new groomer, glade improvements, a new website and a redesigned cafeteria. 

“Holiday Valley has the most snowmaking guns available in Western New York,” said Jane Eshbaugh, director of marketing. “The new guns we are putting in this year are not automated, at this point, but will be part of the automated system in the future.”

The resort’s powerful snowmaking system was expanded with 107 new HKD low energy Impulse snow guns. These were installed on the Bear Cub, Maple Leaf, Falcon, Champagne, Mistletoe, Independence, Boomerang, Shamrock and Northwind runs.

Now, with 351 automated snowguns and almost 800 total snowmaking guns, Holiday Valley has the largest and most powerful HKD automated snowmaking system on the East Coast. Automation has the advantage of quick startups and shutdowns, so even if favorable snowmaking temperatures exist for just a couple of hours, the system can make snow efficiently.

In addition, the automated snowmaking system has weather stations that monitor temperature and humidity, so the guns can automatically and individually adjust to changes. The result is a greater quantity and better quality of snow made, using less energy.

A new Pisten Bully 600 winch cat grooming machine has been added to the grooming crew’s fleet. The machine has a blade for moving large quantities of snow and a tiller to smooth out the surface like other groomers, but it also has a rotating arm with a winch cable that attaches to an anchor point at the top of the slope. This allows the winch cat to groom uphill on steeper terrain resulting in a smoother, more consistent snow surface. 

A thorough cleaning out has made the four glades and several tree trails more fun than ever. With the goal of creating healthier tree stands, better tree skiing and more access to the powder, crews have been smoothing out the forest floor by filling in gaps and sharp angles and doing light pruning to open up the woods a bit.

Additionally, the Mountainside Grill, Holiday Valley’s main cafeteria, has been redesigned for easier access, better traffic flow and a fresh new menu. Jane Eshbaugh said redesigning the cafeteria will improve on its visibility, traffic flow and the products offered.

“We’re at the point right now where we’re waiting for a few key elements to make sure it’ll actually happen this year,” she said. “We’re pretty sure it’s going to happen, but the timing is going to be very tight because we have weddings and conferences going on, then the ski season is coming, so we don’t have a lot of time.” 

HolidayValley.com will also have a whole new look and improved user-friendly e-commerce. According to Eshbaugh, the new website is expected to launch sometime in October. 

Holiday Valley, New York State’s most visited ski resort, has become a leader in the ski industry and ranks among the favorites of skiers in the East. Located along Route 219, in Ellicottville, the resort features 60 slopes and trails, 13 lifts, three base lodges, slope-side lodging and dining, conference facilities, an 18-hole golf course, a tree top aerial adventure park, a mountain coaster and a summer pool complex.  

For more information, call 699-3904 or email jeshbaugh@holidayvalley.com. Visit online at holidayvalley.com.