It's not like Holiday Valley skiers never ski anywhere else. They might not live in mountain country, but they know what it looks like, and they’re not going to blow smoke about the terrain or challenge. What they also know is a good time when they see it, and you can trust their assessment of the charms of Ellicottville and the overall good-people-having-good-times vibe of the place.
In this year’s rankings, only Tremblant can top Holiday in the Après department, thanks to the bustling diversity of food and drink establishments in “charming, beautiful” downtown Ellicottville. "Absolutely one of the best après towns anywhere.” Nightlife and dining get similarly rave reviews (both at No. 3 in the East), and readers love the area for its non-skiing offerings as well (No. 7 for Down Day Activities).
On the hill, readers acknowledge the lack of real mountains, but love what Holiday’s management does with what they’ve got, with high praise for the lift system (No. 4) and the overall family friendliness. “Everything you want except longer runs,” says one reader. Another sums it up with high praise indeed: “Comparing Ellicottville to a dozen Eastern resorts, it’s by far the most accommodating.” — Joe Cutts
Holiday Valley's 2020 SKI Magazine Reader Resort Survey Rank: 10th in the East
- DINNER PICK: It might just be the craft beer talking, but skiers love the hearty pub food at John Harvard’s, too.
- LOCAL TIP: Crockpot lunches are a Holiday tradition, welcomed in the day lodges. Bring your own, or cozy up to someone who did.
- DOWN DAY ACTIVITY: One reader suggests nearbyAllegany State Park, and we agree: “Premier cross-country trails, all in the woods, all skill levels.”
SKI Magazine's 2018 Review of Holiday Valley, New York
Loyal Holiday Valley skiers are proud of their home hill, and by any standard, the charms of Ellicottville are obvious: real snow (thank you, lake effect), cozy village, lively scene, plenty of soul. “Best ski town east of the Rockies,” asserts one reader. “Great small-town feel,” adds another. All the busy bars and restaurants add up to “awesome après scene” and a great dining.
In general, “they do a lot with their 750 vertical feet,” says one reader. “They work hard and keep making improvements,” adds another. Crowds can be a problem. So can the limits of geography. “Need more hill,” one reader admits. But the charms of Ellicottville and the fun, laid-back atmosphere of the mountain—“friendliest mountain staff in the industry”—seal the deal for skiers of Western New York and beyond. Just goes to show, the quality of a ski experience can’t always be measured in vertical feet.
- DON'T MISS A spin through Mud, Sweat & Gears, one of the nation’s better managed and more soulful ski and bike shops
- MANDATORY RUN Happy Glade, a low-angle stand of CCC-planted Norwegian spruces