Holiday Valley, New York: Rank 8 East, 1997

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Blessed by five faces and numerous niches, the"Valley" still pulls 'em in. With wide flanks, hidden glades, monster moguls, quick drop-offs and rolling meadows, diversification is the bait. Granted, New York State's most popular ski destination is at times "very crowded," as one reader comments. But last year's new¿and first¿high-speed quad on the Mardi Gras slope helped whisk away the critics. The little town of Ellicottville, a mile away, is après-ski central. The Silver Fox is choice among several good dining options. Madigan's, Balloons, the Barn and the Ellicottville Brewing Company all put a distinctly different face on party time. The resort offers lodging at its signature Inn at Holiday Valley and at numerous condos and townhouses. But the local property industry has yet to unite in a central, and convenient, reservations service.

What's New Flexible ticketing: The area is open until 10:30 pm daily. A full lift ticket gets you eight hours of skiing from the time of purchase.
A Good Deal Inn at Holiday Valley, Nov. 28-Dec. 25, $88/night, includes lift tickets and breakfast, kids 17 and under stay free; (716) 699-2345.
Medals Gold Grooming; Silver Snow Quality, Value, Lifts, Service, Lodging, Family Programs.
High/Low Rank Grooming (22); Expert Terrain (64).
Don't Miss Morning skiing on Eagle after a night's snowfall.
Reader Remarks "Well managed¿improvements every year." "Short trails. Long liftlines."