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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Skiing season starts at Peek'n Peak


By SEAN McCRACKEN, Erie Times-News 

FINDLEY LAKE, N.Y. -- Nick Scott Sr. knows that snow is one of the most important ingredients for a successful season at Peek'n Peak Resort and Spa.

So with plenty on the ground for the opening of the skiing and snowboarding season on Friday, he's hopeful the winter of 2013-14 could be the best since Erie-based Scott Enterprises bought the resort out of bankruptcy in 2011.

"This is a sigh of relief," said Scott, the company's president. "It's great to be able to get a jump-start."

Early forecasts project this upcoming winter as a consistently snowy one. If that holds true, it would be in stark contrast to the winter of 2011-12, which was so mild that the company was forced to shut the slopes down early, and the winter of 2012-13, when heavy snows didn't start until the end of December.

Additional snowfall doesn't just keep the slopes open, Scott said. It also has the benefit of getting more people thinking about skiing and buying season passes.

"We looked at the 20-year averages (of snowfall) before buying the resort," Scott said. "And each of the last two years has been below average. We'll do well with an average year, and we expect more than that."

Even with help from the weather, Scott said the resort was making snow Friday in hopes of laying a solid base to last the season.

Eleven of the resort's slopes were open Friday. Scott said he expected all 27 to be ready in the next couple of weeks.

Scott said this season should also be boosted by several improvements at the resort, including new features at the snowboard park, new furnishings at the ski lodge and a new computerized system that keeps track of returning customers' sizes for equipment rentals.

Time off for the Thanksgiving holiday and seemingly perfect skiing weather -- 24 degrees and sunny -- inspired hundreds to come out Friday, and Scott said he expected thousands more today and Sunday.

Brett Christy, of Fredonia, N.Y., and his family were among those drawn to the resort Friday. He said his family normally comes to Peek'n Peak more than a dozen times in a given year, but this is the first year they bought season passes. He said he is impressed with the changes made since 2011.

"Things seem more well-organized than a couple years ago," Christy said.

Christy said his family doesn't make it a point to come out on the first day each year, but the conditions seemed just right Friday.

Self-described avid skier John Reed was also among those drawn to the slopes Friday by the snow. While waiting in the ski lodge with his 3-year-old daughter, Gabby, Reed said he makes a point of driving from his home in Cleveland to the resort at least a couple of times each year.

"It's the best skiing that is this close," Reed said.

SEAN McCRACKEN can be reached at 870-1714 or by e-mail. Follow him on Twitter at

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Western New York's Holiday Valley to Open for Skiing on Friday

ELLICOTTVILLE, N.Y. – Holiday Valley, the popular western New York ski resort, will open Friday, with at least 11 trails open and six lifts operating.
Recent cold temperatures that have allowed for nonstop snowmaking, combined with 6 inches of natural snow since Saturday, have given the resort's slopes a snow depth of up to 10 to 25 inches, according to the resort.
Friday's hours will be 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Reduced lift ticket prices, available all weekend, are $53 for ages 12 and up, and $42 for ages 7-11 (6 and under ski free).
The resort is also offering a "2 Ski Free" promotion at the Inn at Holiday Valley, where each night booked includes two lift tickets (though Dec. 24). For more information:

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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

10 Reasons to Visit Chautauqua County and Western New York This Winter

>PRWEB.COM Newswire
Chautauqua, NY (PRWEB) November 12, 2013
Chautauqua County in western New York sits directly in the path of lake effect snow storms that gather strength over Lake Erie and drop more than 200 inches of snow annually. More often than not, the holidays are welcomed with a carpet of white and the winter season becomes a frozen crystal wonderland. This pocket of precipitation is precisely why winter is a perfect time to plan a visit.
With annual snowfall that rivals Colorado ski towns, western New York offers plenty of opportunity for downhill snow sports. Near Findley Lake, the Peek’n Peak Resort and Spa provides an excellent backdrop for true beginners all the way to expert level skiers and snowboarders with 27 slopes, eight chairlifts, three progression terrain parks and a half pipe. There is a tubing area and trails for cross country skiing. The instructors at Peek’n Peak’s Snow Sports School are professionally trained and the lodges, dining rooms, pool and spa are welcome amenities after a day on the slopes.
Chautauqua's numerous trails and open spaces provide access for cross country skiing and snow shoeing. Long Point State Park, Lake Erie State Park, Chautauqua Institution, and the Jamestown Audubon Center offer picturesque landscapes, trails, and potential for wildlife viewing. A local retailer, Evergreen Outfitters, schedules regular guided snowshoe hikes, including one during the full moon.
More than 400 miles of trails groomed by five local snowmobile clubs provide an ideal setting for sledding over old railroad beds, former trolley lines, open farm fields, heavily wooded areas, and seasonal roads. Trails officially open a week or so before Christmas, weather permitting. New York requires that all sleds be registered and advanced preparation is recommended. Information on how to register and where to find trail conditions is available at
Winter is a great time to visit the wineries in Lake Erie Wine Country. Tasting rooms are less crowded than during the peak summer and fall tourist seasons, the experience is more educational and intimate, and many new vintages are released. Also winter and Ice Wine, a specialty wine unique to the northern climate, naturally go together. During the annual Wine and Chocolate Weekend, February 14-16, 2014, each of the participating wineries will pair a luscious chocolate creation with a wine accompaniment.
Brewery tours are popular at Southern Tier Brewing Company throughout the year. The Empty Pint Brewery Pub offers a selection of 14 draught beers, including some guest taps, Thursday through Saturday, evenings, and Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Hickory smoked pulled pork, meatloaf, and cheese sandwiches, snacks and non-alcoholic beverages are also on the menu. Guided tours of the brewery are offered on Saturdays at 12:15, 1:00, 1:45, 2:30, 3:15 and 4 pm. The 45-minute tours are available on a first come basis and often sell out by mid-afternoon. Visitors should prepare for touring a working production facility that may be hot, cold, wet and noisy.
The annual Currier & Ives Sleigh Rally takes place at Chautauqua Institution, Sunday, January 19, 2014. While the rally participants are horsemen and their sleighs, spectators can watch the Victorian style sleighs and costumed drivers as they parade through the historic grounds with sleigh bells jingling at approximately 12 noon.
Sleigh rides are offered on Saturdays and Sundays throughout January and February through the historic grounds of Chautauqua Institution. Rides run every half hour from 1 pm to 3 pm and tickets are available at the Chautauqua Bookstore on Bestor Plaza. This is a lot of fun for couples or as an outing for the whole family.
President’s Day Weekend brings with it the annual Winter Festival in Mayville, February 14-16, 2014 featuring events, activities, and contests for all ages including fireworks, a flare parade, bonfire and horse drawn wagon rides. If the weather cooperates, visitors might see ice and snow sculptures, or even a castle made from blocks of ice harvested in the traditional way from Chautauqua Lake.
Holiday memories await at the Fenton History Center in Jamestown. Held November 29, 2013 to January 18, 2014, the Center’s annual holiday exhibit, “Signs of the Season”, fills four floors of the elegant 1863 Fenton Mansion and includes a dozen decorated Christmas trees. Visitors will learn about Jamestown's holiday traditions while listening to old time Christmas carols. New for 2013, costumed museum guides will offer candlelight tours of the mansion on Saturday evenings from 7-8 pm.
Bed and breakfasts, vacation homes, resorts and inns are available for lodging during the winter months, providing getaway time by the hearth, with some hot chocolate, a bottle of local wine or some Southern Tier beer.
For more ideas on visiting Chautauqua County any time of year, visit or call 1-866-908-4569.
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