Ellicottville does not have sky-scraping mountains, nor does it receive 400 inches of snow every winter.
Its highest ‘peak’ reaches a whopping 700 feet - to put it in perspective, you would be looking out of the Empire State Building on the 70th floor. The blunt of the natural snow comes from the leftover lake effect from Buffalo - and that is never guaranteed.
Ellicottville and its ski resorts don’t just overcome these obstacles - they conquer them. The small town in Western New York has created a buzz for itself that draws people from all over the Northeast United States. With so much exposure coming from every direction, Ellicottville has been awarded multiple top-10 rankings in ski publications.
Holiday Valley and HoliMont complement Ellicottville by providing a basis for the tourism, and Ellicottville complements the two resorts by wining and dining the visitors. If you’ve ever been in Ellicottville on a Friday night in the winter, the buzz is palpable. People come here for the ambience and the small-town feel.
When it comes to resort rankings, they must be taken with a grain of salt. Realistically, Holiday Valley and HoliMont can’t match up with the dominance shown by Vail, Colo. or Killington, Verm. The elevation and acreage of bigger places makes it difficult for Ellicottville to find recognition.
However, the town has made the best of what it has, building and expanding in an effort to create a better atmosphere for the region’s snowsports enthusiasts. People living in Cleveland cannot go to Aspen every weekend, so they come to Ellicottville.
“Ellicottville does a nice job of working with what it has,” said Jack Camus, a frequent Holiday Valley visitor and a senior at nearby St. Bonaventure University. “I can drive 25 minutes and be at a nice resort. No, it doesn’t have a lot of elevation, but they make up for it with lift capacity and the terrain parks.”
In a regional SKI Magazine ranking, Ellicottville took 4th in dining, 5th in apres/nightlife and 6th in lodging. Pretty good considering the size of the town and its capacity for people. However, with so many restaurants and bars packed into such a small area, people enjoy that small-town feel.
Snow East Magazine placed Holiday Valley 2nd in resorts on the East Coast with elevation under 1,100 feet. There aren’t too many resorts around that don’t have a lot of elevation but manage to stay relevant. Holiday Valley, with its continuous expansion and superb customer service, has stayed successful through nominal winters and a depressed economy.
What is marginally surprising is that Holiday Valley didn’t place in the top-10 in East Coast resorts in SKI Magazine. Just a few years ago, the magazine awarded the resort with 3rd place.
“It’s pretty surprising the Valley didn’t make it in,” Camus said. “I’ve been going there for the past three seasons, and I feel like the conditions and the resort have only gotten better.”
Even though Holiday Valley didn’t receive the same love it has gotten, it is safe to say Ellicottville is firmly entrenched as a go-to spot in the region. People come here from Canada, Penn. and Ohio. They view Ellicottville as a weekend destination, letting the scene and the brand of the town encompass them.
Ski the resorts. Enjoy the nightlife. Eat merrily. Because in the end, the only rankings Ellicottville needs are the constant smiles seen on its visitors.