Embracing winter just across the border
To know me is to know that I hate, well hate is a strong word, but realllly dislike winter. Not winter so much, but the cold! In keeping with our family’s mandate this year to embrace the weather and get out there this winter -- despite all this crazy weather -- we headed across the border to Ellicottville N.Y. to the beautiful and family-friendly Holiday Valley Resort.
I had heard a lot about Ellicottville from friends and neighbours but didn’t understand the allure that drew these folks year after year for skiing, tubing, fun and friendship. After all, there were lots of options in Ontario, so why cross the border? Well, why not? Ellicottville is only a short and scenic 2 ½ hr drive from the GTA and Ohio, drawing families, old friends, and avid snow folks from both sides of the border. I can say it now –- it was well worth the easy drive!
Here’s a list of the top 10 reasons you have to visit Holiday Valley this winter:
- Awesome slopes – Yes, they have SNOW! Lots of it!!
- Great runs – lots of options for skiers of all abilities from beginner to double diamond.
- Lots to do – Cross country trails, downhill skiing and hiking trails.
- Beautiful surroundings – it’s just plain pretty and the trees are magnificent. The high-speed lifts are a beautiful way to view the surroundings and the kids loved the ride.
- Canadian dollar is close to par – affordable and priced well with lots of options for all budgets.
- Friendly staff that make you feel at home – no pretension, just warm hospitality from the moment you step foot outside your car.
- Makes you feel like a kid again – not only are they super family-friendly but they offer a tube park, a real mountain coaster, two outdoor hot tubs perfect for après ski (one for kids and one for adults) and a Mountain Adventure Clan Hunt (like a discovery trail) for exploring the mountain and gaining appreciation for the local Seneca Nations’ heritage.
- Family suites for all budgets and family sizes – we loved our adjoining room with Murphy Bed, ample kitchenette and toasty fireplace at the Tamarak Club.
- Vanity toiletries – who doesn’t love having nice toiletries In their room? Crabtree and Evelyn provide that special five-star treatment without the five-star price.
- Ellicottville – this quaint village has lots of great restaurants and specialty stores that make for a great rainy day activity or short shopping excursion.
And lastly, like-minded people! We met some of the nicest people from all over the northeast U.S and southern Ontario. Unlike some other ski venues we’ve visited in the past, everyone we met was friendly, irrespective of their occupation or income. We met some 20-year veterans of Holiday Valley who have been attending twice-yearly reunions with their families starting from when they completed university. It’s a perfect place to meet up with long-lasting friends or have family reunions since there is so much to see and do all year round, even if you don’t particularly like to ski.
In Part 2 we’ll will offer a more detailed view of our escapades on the mountain and some great options to save money and have tons of fun too!
* You can find some discounts on lift tickets here. To get even better deals you can register for their e-newsletter to get last minute deals and great discounts and promos all year round. Just scroll down to the bottom of the page and after you register your e-mail address select “year round last minute club.”
** Thank you to Jane Eshbaugh and all the wonderful staff at Holiday Valley for making this one of our most memorable trips yet!
-- Rania Walker, MSN Travel
Visit WEplusTHREE…or more for more tips and tricks. Rania Walker is a busy mom of three kids who loves to travel and is always looking for deals and tips to allow her to do so with her "large" family of five. Through her company R.W. SPEAKBoutique she offers media training and on-air presentation skills; P.R. & marketing consultation, and corporate training. A television producer and host, she is a woman of very many words who loves to share information, especially tips and tricks to make life just that little bit easier.