By Eva Potter
Each building has its very own personality that is immediately conveyed to those who cross its threshold. It’s the fine details – the colors, textures, light – that determine the tone and the subconscious reactions to them that make visitors feel warm and welcome, and no one understands Holiday Valley’s personality profile better than designer Lee Stranburg.
Born and raised in Franklinville, Stranburg has a long-entwined history with Holiday Valley beginning with happy childhood memories of taking the T-bar to the top of Tannenbaum many years ago. His father owned Gulf gas stations in the area including one that sat on the current site of Coffee Culture in Ellicottville.
For the last 19 years, Stranburg has been leaving his signature stamp on design projects for Holiday Valley. His design firm, Design & Supply, Co., Inc., in Chalfont, Pa., has worked with the award-winning ski resort to create expansive, welcoming interiors for its lodges, the Inn at Holiday Valley, the Tamarack Club and Guest Services Center.
His most recent project, the new main lodge is almost complete, but the process began over a year ago when Stranburg, his son Adam, and the rest of his design team began meeting with Holiday Valley’s key decision makers.
“We survey the property and pick owners’ brains extensively, or whoever’s brains they’d like us to pick,” said Stranburg. “We also, though, do oversight and give comments…. We don’t try to step on anybody’s toes, but we certainly give what we call points to ponder.”
It took the Design & Supply team of four about a month to draw up a plan that incorporated his client’s ideas and melded them with everyday functionality, solid durability and esthetic design.
According to Jane Eshbaugh, Holiday Valley’s marketing director, Stranburg and Holiday Valley Vice President Bonnie Koschir worked together to choose the colors, furnishings and other details, which were passed by a few others on the Holiday Valley team for approval or suggestions. The Day Care Center also had input from Carrie Franklin, the Day Care director.
“Bonnie gives us direction,” said Stranburg. “I wouldn’t say we read her mind, but we are certainly on the same wave length.”
As soon as you step inside, you’ll discover shimmering tile work, richly painted walls, expansive windows, vaulted ceilings, custom furniture, as well as ski memorabilia and original artwork from local artists and artisans that give the lodge a distinctive personality.
Eshbaugh said they commissioned a mixed media triptych of spruces on Tannenbaum slope by local artist Sean Huntington, because “we’re familiar with his work and he displayed at Routes to Art in the Tamarack Club two summers ago. His work was perfect for what we had in mind.” Huntington is also a co-owner of Mill Street Gallery in Ellicottville.
“I was really flattered when I was asked to do a piece for Holiday Valley,” said Huntington. “It’s incredibly exciting when you think of all the people that go through that building – what a great opportunity! They could have gone with reproductions, but they went with a local artist, and I know they’ve also worked with local contractors, metal smiths and woodworkers. They chose to support the local economy.”
Sweep the other lodge walls and you’ll find photographs by Steve Gotreau, Holiday Valley’s food and beverage manager, and by Eshbaugh, who commented, “I am definitely not a ‘real’ photographer. I just carry my little Canon camera when I go out on the slopes and I get lucky sometimes. Photoshop and cropping come in handy.”
Art from the original Clubhouse Chalet by Carly Hill lends a nostalgic touch along with a real T-bar lift hanging in the T-Bar area on the upper level of the lodge. According to Eshbaugh, Tom Lowry has constructed the interior bars from concrete that is inlaid, stained and polished (similar to one he built at John Harvard’s), and Bob McCarthy has made some one-of-a-kind tables for the T-Bar.
In addition, Paul Boccolucci, West Valley metal artist and owner of Real Stuff Gallery and Gifts, has also designed and created lighting sconces and metal medallions – snowflakes and Ullr – for the railings. He has also done custom sign work and chandeliers for Tamarack Club, the Inn at Holiday Valley, Yodeler Lodge, as well as whimsical wall art for Holiday Valley’s Learning Center.
Boccolucci said, “Most of the (chandeliers) I’m re doing I had made 25 years ago for Holiday Valley. Through the years, I’ve made light fixtures and chandeliers, fireplace doors, gas fire pits, many different signs, decorative railing parts, etc. I am currently finishing a fire pit for installation at the Lodge.”
It looks like the old and new have all found special places in the beautiful new lodge at Holiday Valley, which will be ready to welcome visitors to the ground floor on Dec. 1 and the main and second floors on Dec. 15.
As Stranburg put it, “We want (guests) to think this is really a fun lodge to be in and to enjoy the views of the slopes and the friendships they bring with them or develop.”
(For more Holiday Valley Lodge details, see article on page 9.)