"The Little Mountain that could "
Long established as the place to be in western New York, Holiday Valley has never been content to rest on its laurels.
Holiday Valley somehow continues to percolate with customer-friendly improvements season after season. And skiers notice, awarding consistent Top 10 rankings in the East. "Holiday Valley puts its money back into the operation, always improves and never settles for good enough," one skier says. The base lodges set a standard for small resorts - in architecture, comfort and food. All the facilities, including the rapid-transit lift system that was rated No. 1 in the East, are polished to a luster more associated with Western ski giants. "If you didn't look up, you'd think you were in Colorado," one reader says. And that goes for downtown Ellicottville, too. Near the slopes, the village's sidewalks are lined by galleries, boutiques, restaurants and taverns with the right blend of hipness and tradition. It's what great ski towns were before they turned into alpine Beverly Hillses. Where the resort comes up short is that it is, well, short. It tries to do a lot with its 750-foot vertical, but "it's not real challenging," a reader says. Many readers also cite a tendency for the steeper runs to get skied off. The area continues to draw heavily from southern Ontario. In fact, its founders borrowed much of the original architecture and trail design from Mt. Saint Sauveur, Que., where they frequently vacationed. And with the Canadian dollar going strong, visits from north of the border, along with a boom in local real estate, keep the resort humming a Holiday tune. - Steve Cohen
Infrastructure improvements include a new winch cat to better groom the short steeps, which tend to get scoured almost daily, plus upgrades to the snowmaking system.
A day at Holimont, the nearby private club ski area. It's open to the public on weekdays and has steeper, longer runs than Holiday Valley, plus grooming that holds up in comparison to just about any other resort.
Happy Glade. Thank FDR for this one. It was created in the 1930s when the Civilian Conservation Corps planted a stand of then-sapling Norwegian spruces that now tower as giant sentinels.