By Alicia Dziak

Living in what we consider ski country, my husband, Hannes, and I wondered how we could get more kids in our community involved in skiing. We were soon introduced to Kristen Sciara, Holiday Valley’s group sales manager and assistant marketing director, who organizes their ski clubs.

Impressed by the initial information we received, Hannes, a very ski-minded person, made his mission in life last fall to start a ski club of friends to ski at Holiday Valley.

“Starting a ski and snowboard club at Holiday Valley is very easy,” Sciara said. “Just gather a group of coworkers, friends, or family who are interested is skiing or riding on a weekly basis through the winter. We offer value passes that are for weekdays, nights and Sundays at a great price. With some of our passes, you can get in 16 weeks of skiing for around $140. Many of the passes also include lessons, which is great for those folks thinking about learning to ski or ride. The leader of the ski club also receives great benefits that can include free passes, lift tickets and more. Being part of a ski and snowboard club is such a fun way to get out on the slopes and enjoy winter with friends.”

As we sifted through the information, we loved the options for different days, offering a great amount of flexibility. We chose Sunday for our group, thinking that would allow more families to participate with their children.

We double and triple checked the paperwork before spreading the word, as it didn’t seem possible that for only $155, we could ski every Sunday afternoon that Holiday Valley was open, all season long, and also take lessons.

Our first day of the 2013-14 ski season at Holiday Valley was Dec. 1. Our two daughters are relatively new to skiing, and although I’m not that new, I’m also not that good, so at the beginning of each season, it’s our custom to take some practice runs down the bunny hill. I was happily surprised at how easy it was to get into the swing of things on the School Haus lift and trail, and as far as “bunny hills” go, this one is perfect. After some practice, we were ready to tackle some green circles, and soon we were graduating to blue squares and black diamonds.

The most noticeable difference in my kids’ skiing last season was their confidence.

Before this season, my then 10-year-old daughter, Ava, cautious by nature, was hesitant to part ways with the security of the small hills. After some lessons early in the season, and numerous runs down her favorite trail, she grew to love to explore the resort and a majority of the trails at a steady pace.

“Last year I had so much fun skiing at Holiday Valley,” she said. “The lodges are awesome and so are the trails! My favorite trail is Candy Cane, and I liked all the high-speed chairlifts. I also liked the creative events like Mardi Gras at Holiday Valley. I had a blast skiing there every week!”

My then 8-year-old daughter, Lily, the thrill seeker, worked hard on her form last season, and by April, very thoughtfully navigated the more difficult trails with a huge smile on her face the entire time.

“Taking lessons was so much fun!” she said. “I skied a lot better at the end of the season than I did at the beginning. The instructors showed me what I was doing wrong and how I could fix it.”

At this point, we had gotten in just about four solid months of Sunday skiing. We were there the Sunday before Christmas and had the Main Lodge almost all to ourselves. We’ve skied through wind, ice, and varying levels of snow and cold. We’ve skied in darkness, in sunlight, on our own, with friends, and with extra kids in tow. Through it all, we thoroughly enjoyed the ski club experience, and the regular time set aside for the family to spend together every Sunday afternoon and evening.

For our first season offering the Holiday Valley ski club, we got around 50 friends and friends of friends out on the slopes with us every Sunday.

“Members of our club have loved this experience, and we think it will be even bigger next year,” said Hannes.

Last season, Holiday Valley had about 200 clubs from schools, communities and corporate clubs, so they’ve got this ski club thing down!

As our first ski club season came to an end, spending 17 Sundays at Holiday Valley was such a fun and memorable experience for my family. Holiday Valley — its staff, its amenities, its customer-focused atmosphere — is everything we could wish for in a ski resort. We’re so happy we could be a part of it last season and can’t wait till this season begins!

Take advantage of this great opportunity to spend more time in the fresh Ellicottville air with friends and family, while getting lots of bang for your buck.

The newly revamped “Ultimate” ski club passes are available on a variety of days and prices vary depending on the day you select. You only need 10 or more people to start a ski club of your own. The first step is to contact Kristen Sciara at (716) 699-3905 or