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Former Olympic skier proposes Scandinavian Spa in Ellicottville

By Rick Miller

Travis Mayer trained at Holiday Valley before he won the silver medal for moguls in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy.

He’s looking to return to Ellicottville, where he and his wife, Elisabeth, are hoping to build a $2.4 million Scandinavian-style spa that would be unique to this region.

“We looked at a bunch of locations, mountain towns in the West and the East,” Mayer said. “This seemed like a great place to do it.”

He said it is like coming home — his parents have a home in Ellicottville.

Mayer has proposed the construction of six structures with a total of 14,000 square feet on a 5.4-acre site at the end of Snowpine Village Road. 

If he receives the necessary permits from the town of Ellicottville, Mayer said he hopes to begin construction in April and open for Christmas 2020.

Mayer, who lives in Steamboat, Colo., is a former CEO of Intrawest Resorts, a $1.5 billion publicly traded operator and developer of mountain resort, heli-skiing and hospitality properties. He has more than 10 years experience in the hospitality, ski and development industries.

Elisabeth Mayer was a former vice president of corporate finance and investor relations at Intrawest Resorts. She was also a senior manager for mountain finance at Vail.

“An amenity like this will be great for Western New York,” Mayer said. “There’s nothing like it in the region. This seemed like a great place for it. We’re cautiously optimistic the town will support it.”

Scandinavian Spa Ellicottville LLC is seeking sales tax abatement and a tourism payment in lieu of taxes agreement.

The project was introduced at the Cattaraugus County Industrial Development Agency meeting in Ellicottville on Thursday.

Mayer said plans call for a combination of full- and part-time employees for the year-round spa, rising to 14 employees. About 30 people in the building trades will be employed during construction. Local suppliers will be used when possible.

The various structures proposed at the Scandinavian Spa include reception and check-in, limited service cafe, administrative and operations functions, locker rooms, massage rooms, dry and Banya saunas and steam rooms, relaxation space, storage and a small shop.

The proposed development includes outdoor hot spas, cold plunges and water features. It will be designed after traditional Finnish and Icelandic hydrotherapy regimens in which guests alternate between hot, cold and relaxation intervals.

“This is a significant project unique to Western New York,” said Corey Wiktor, executive director of the IDA, adding that as skiers and other visitors continuously look for new amenities, this project will stand out.

“It adds a new dimension to Ellicottville,” Wiktor said. 

Holiday Valley, which owns the property on which Mayer is hoping to build the spa, “is very supportive of it,” he added.

“They looked all over and found the right fit here,” Wiktor said of the Mayers.

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