Holiday Valley announces $2.9 million in upgrades for 2020-21 season

Holiday Valley Resort has invested $2.9 million in improvement projects for summer and the upcoming 2020-21 winter season. Among the upgrades is a Pisten Bully 600 grooming tractor that will replace an older machine to keep the ski slopes in tip-top condition.

ELLICOTTVILLE — Western New York’s largest year-round resort continues to get better.

Holiday Valley Resort recently announced it has invested $2.9 million in improvement projects for summer and the upcoming 2020-21 winter season.

Dennis Eshbaugh, president and general manager at Holiday Valley, said despite a shortened season due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 2019-20 winter season was successful. He said they have a long range plan and are able to continue moving forward on resort projects.

“We are thinking positive about the future and plan to provide great skiing and riding for our customers while promoting cleanliness, safety and health of our guests and employees,” he said. “We hope that by continuing to invest in this community, it will help stimulate the economy and instill confidence in others to follow suit.”

This year’s improvement highlights include the purchase of a new Pisten Bully 600 grooming tractor, improvements to the snowmaking system, Phase II of the LED slope lighting project, expansion of the SNOWsat snow-depth system, additional tree and glades work, purchase of new Snowsports uniforms and planning for two new lifts to be installed in the near future.

Marketing Director Jane Eshbaugh said snowmaking is key to the successful operation of the resort, and Holiday Valley has the most snowmaking guns available in Western New York. She said this year’s snowmaking expansion adds 20 snowguns and automation to the Mistletoe area, which allows snowmakers to remotely start up and shut down the snowguns, quickly, in that area.

“With the new snowguns on Mistletoe, we have approximately 735 total guns,” she said. “We now will have approximately 380 automated guns, which are currently being installed.”

According to a recent press release, the guns on lower Mardi Gras were replaced with the newest, most energy efficient HKD guns. Holiday Valley is now able to make snow on 95 percent of its 300 acres of slopes, with approximately 50 percent of its 735 snowguns equipped with automation. The crews also replaced 1,500 feet of underground air and water pipes used in the snowmaking system.

Eshbaugh said the new grooming tractor replaces an older machine to maintain Holiday Valley’s modern fleet of six groomers that are used to recondition the snow surface every night. She said the new machine is more fuel efficient and produces lower emissions than the one it replaces.

To aid in more efficient snowmaking and grooming, GPS mapping software called SNOWsat has been installed in the machines to measure snow-depth. Eshbaugh said it is used by the snowmaking crew to know where to make more snow and by the groomers to know where there is surplus snow and where there are thin spots in need of more base. She said the new groomer will be equipped with SNOWsat for a total of four machines equipped with the snow-depth technology.

Last year, Holiday Valley began improvements to some of its glades and tree trails. That project has continued this summer with the goal of creating healthier tree stands, better tree skiing and more access to powder. Eshbaugh said Gobbler Glade and Devil’s Glen Glade are getting most of the attention this year with pulling out downed logs and branches.

Eshbaugh said Holiday Valley is in the process of replacing metal halide night lighting throughout the resort with energy efficient LED lights. This year they have replaced 100 fixtures on upper Cindy’s, Maple Leaf, Foxfire and Sunrise slopes.

New uniforms from Marmot were purchased for the 200-plus member Holiday Valley Snowsports School and coaches. Eshbaugh said the uniforms will be embroidered with a new snowsports logo that represents the professional and fun aspects of the snowsports school.

SEVERAL ADDITIONAL projects, repairs and maintenance have taken place throughout the summer to increase guest comfort and convenience. Eshbaugh said these projects included golf course restroom updates, construction of a first-time visitor’s kiosk, furniture replacement in some areas of the lodges, several small maintenance projects at the Inn at Holiday Valley and additional parking spaces.

Two lean-tos were put in at the Holiday Valley Tubing Park for protection from the weather and/or additional space to sit and rest, Eshbaugh said. They are also enlarging the parking area by another 50 spots.

According to Eshbaugh, planning is underway for several major improvements that will be completed within the next few years including realignment and replacement of the Yodeler Quad chairlift with a four-passenger high-speed lift and replacement of the Mardi Gras Quad with a new six-passenger high-speed lift. She said Yodeler was built in 2001 and Mardi Gras in 1996.

“The project is still in the planning stages, so we don’t have a commitment to the exact dates,” she said. “There’s still a lot of work to be done and we are currently doing surveys to figure out the exact locations, elevations and mechanics.”

The opening target date for the 2020-21 season is Friday, Nov. 27, weather permitting. Eshbaugh said there will be special precautions taken to minimize the risk of COVID-19 exposure including additional cleaning and sanitizing procedures, the presence of hand sanitizing stations, indicators for proper social distancing in restaurant seating and lineup areas, partitions at points of sale and requiring face coverings to be worn by employees and guests.

For more information, call 699-3904 or visit holidayvalley.com.

(Contact press reporter Deb Everts at salpressdeb@gmail.com)

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