By Jann Wiswall
It’s pretty great being in an area whose primary purpose is making life fun.
At the heart of it all are Holiday Valley Resort and HoliMont, where winter got off to a strong and early start.
According to HoliMont General Manager Dave Riley, the 2016-17 season “was a breath of fresh air after last year. We had some of the best skiing ever, especially on weekends.”
Holiday Valley’s Marketing Director Jane Eshbaugh agrees. “There was good, steady business all season long. We were open 116 days total, compared to 98 days last year.”
As is always true, Mother Nature is primarily in charge of the snow machine, and she delivered some 230 inches of natural snow fall, compared to just 117 inches in 2016-17. The annual average is 180 inches.
But she’s fickle, and both Riley and Eshbaugh reminded us that there were a lot of thaws and rain this season, when February was one of the warmest on record. Thankfully, most of that warmer weather was during the week, with cold weather and snow arriving before the weekend, giving both resorts the opportunity to keep weekend visitors happy and the Village hopping.
Of course, both resorts’ continuing investment in snowmaking technology made all the difference. Eshbaugh reported that the resort made 1300 acre-feet of snow, equivalent to 4.5 feet per skiable acre, throughout the season. For Holiday Valley, this is about average in recent years; Riley reported that HoliMont made the most snow in its history this year.
While weekday visits were down a bit at both resorts, Eshbaugh said that the Holiday Valley Tubing Park had a very strong year. “The Tubing Park does way better when it’s a bit warmer,” she said.
Business is Growing
The resorts couldn’t thrive without the hotels, restaurants, shops and entertainment venues that support them in the Village of Ellicottville. The Ellicottville Chamber of Commerce reported that Ellicottville remains “the undisputed driving force for tourism in Cattaraugus County.”
One measure of that success is the County’s 5 percent occupancy, or bed, tax collected on all non-native lodging facilities.
According to the Chamber, in first quarter 2017, Ellicottville collected 78% of the total bed tax revenue collected in the county — $217,974 of $279,756 collected. This is the second largest total since the bed tax was created in 2004 and is just 5% off 2011 revenues for the same quarter – the record to date – and a full 41 percent higher than the abnormal 2016 season.
With such successes, it’s no wonder that Ellicottville continues to attract new businesses and investment in the area with an eye toward keeping them coming to the area year-round.
A new restaurant, Finnerty’s Tap Room, opened this winter at Washington and Mill Streets in the Village Centre behind the Kwik Fill/Red Apple. The restaurant offers 19 beers on tap, an extensive lunch and dinner menu with something for everyone and a great entertainment environment for sports, music and more.
The commercial success of Ellicottville Brewing Company’s line of products, whose flagship restaurant and brewery is located at 28 Monroe Street in the village, has prompted the company to expand its brewing and bottling functions into a vacant warehouse in the town of Little Valley. The new manufacturing facility will include a tasting room, tours, an outdoor concert space and a beer museum. Construction is expected to begin early this year.
And M&T Bank, moved a couple of blocks down the street to a newly renovated building at 47 Washington Street where you’ll find great service, more parking and both a walk-up and drive-up ATM.
A major theme for both the town and village of Ellicottville for 2017 is how they can work together to conserve and share resources for projects of importance to both communities.
Last year, the two shared the cost of a new tablet computer for the sewer department and each contributed to the restoration of the Village Park’s tennis and basketball courts, a new park security system and a new dog park.
Now they are working together to simplify processes and eliminate duplication of effort by merging certain services and reorganizing the public works functions of both municipalities.
The plan calls for formation of a joint sewer and water district, creating a new department of public works and hiring a department director, shared by the town and village, to oversee the joint district as well as the town highway department and the village’s current DPW.
The municipalities have hired an engineering consultant to define the organizational structure of the new department and the DPW director’s job description and will help identify qualified candidates for the position. The municipalities also have hired a grant writer to seek outside funding to offset some of the costs associated with structuring the new department.
Another jointly funded project is the installation of a new and more energy-efficient HVAC system in the village/town hall.
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