Pros: Good location, night skiing, cheap
Cons: Feels small after a while
Only negative I could say about Bristol is it does feel little small after a while but for location and price it is still a gem.
Morning Star Café
Increased uphill capacity of Galaxy Express High-Speed Quad and completion of the Lower North Star trail. Renovations are currently being put in place throughout the base area. Increased dinning and locker room will be available once renovations are completed in the 2013 season.
|Snow making percent||97%|
|Lifts-Surface Lifts-Magic carpet||1|
|Lifts-Chair Lifts-High speed quad||2|
|Lifts-Total number of lifts||6|
|Runs-Longest run||2 miles|
|General-Total area in bounds||138 acres|
|General-Snow making coverage||134 acres|
Pros: Good location, night skiing, cheap
Cons: Feels small after a while
Pros: Special deals, snow making, short lines, fast lifts
Cons: Not the west, lodge over packed, lack of moguls, not as difficult as the west
I just stared skiing in Upstate NY (Near Rochester). I use to ski the Rockies, mostly Deer Valley over a decade ago. I moved to Rochester area in 2000 and never bothered doing down hill as I always heard and assumed it was going to be sub-par. That all changed this winter, when we got a lot of snow and I happen to drive by Bristol one weekend. To my surprise it wasn't the small hills and the t-bar lifts I was thinking of. It has a 1200 vertical rise, which makes the runs a bit shorter than what I am use to as well as it lacks the moguls, steepness, and difficulty from the west. It is very good for the area and it is the highest mountain between here and the Rockies. The snow isn't as a bad as I thought it would be, though there are some sheets of ice every so often. They do have a lot of snow generating equipment, so that improves the quality of the slopes. Also there are many friendly people who are very positive about their experiences there. In matter of fact, many people went on about how great the slopes and snow making were.
The food quality is good and the prices luckily aren't movie theater prices, though they are about 25% more than what you would spend at a fast food restaurant. My biggest complaint about the lodges are that they are way over crowded. They really should expand on them, it was to the point that I would rather not eat there. They do have a summit demo shop that does hotdogs and burgers, it is no where near as crowded as the bottom. The summit shop is a little rustic, with a trailer bathroom facility and no running water from what I can tell in the summit shop. While the food is good and the prices aren't bad, I do wish the lodges were a bit nicer like their western counter parts and that they were less crowded as well. The wait for something even a slice of pizza to be served can be more than 5 minutes and good luck finding a seat. I did not check out the older smaller lodge or the mid mountain waffle lodge.
The slopes are very enjoyable to ski on. The lifts are many, quick, and the lines are in some cases shorter than what I experienced in the West. The occasional snow boarder plowing snow down the slope can be annoying, though this is new to me as there was a ban on boarding in Deer Valley. This seems to lead to small sheets of ice, followed by a large mound of crud. On some runs there also seems to be lines or groups of boarders laying abreast on the ground. Though most of the above seem to be from new or unaware snow boarders. When I mentioned this to a group of four people that were laying down abreast in a narrow, making it difficult/dangerous to ski around, they politely moved. This also seemed to be only a problem on the crowded greens and I don't recall this being an issue on blues or blacks. As I mentioned earlier the moguls are almost no-existent and this might due to the higher amount of ice in the area and shorter season. Also the blacks are more like blues/double blues in Utah. Though I guess this is all relative and there is no real definition.
My first time out I opted for the $89 package: 1.5 hour lesson, 8 hour pass, and ski rental. This wasn't bad as the ski rentals + pass cost that much all ready. As I was worried I was a little rusty I took the advance class. I was uncomfortably grouped with 3 young teenagers, who didn't seem all too interested in being there. The instructor was very knowledgeable, but he seemed to be off duty skiing with his family and was called in as they were low on staff. He did take the slower lift up to reserve his strength and he asked if I didn't mind him leaving 30 minutes early so he could ski with his family. Not wanting to look like a jerk, I let him go. I think we got 2 or 3 runs. Though I am hoping that this situation was more of an exception than the rule. The best deal seemed to be the $99 package for first time skiers and boarders: 8 hour rental, 4 hour lesson, $15 lunch credit, and rentals. I might consider doing more lessons, though the pricing structure doesn't give anyone a reason to buy their own skis for peak times.
The prices aren't bad and I can see how they demand $60+ for their peak times. Though I loved the discounted $27 weekend twilight pass, if you remembered you intense milk bottle cap. If they did lower the prices, I could see how peak times would be made worst from an overflow of people.
There does seem to be a few condos next to the slopes, but for most part you will have to stay at Bristol Harbor and the Inn on the Lake. The Inn on the lake is about a 20min drive, though I am bias to it as I got married there. Bristol Harbor is a little more rustic and reminds me of what a ski resort looks like and it is also closer ~14mins.
If you are into the party scene, which I am not, then Rochester is about 45 minutes away with clubs and bars. Canandaigua is about 20 minutes north with some bars, bus, hotels, and restaurants. It is more of a summer time hang out for Rochester.
In all it isn't the west. There is some room for improvement in the lodge. Though hands down I am happy to have it so close (38 minutes) away. I am really considering getting a season pass next year. It already convinced me to drop close to a $1000 in new ski gear. If you are a couple hours away, it is worth it, just ask the plethora of Canadians that come down. Living about a half an hour away, it is a no brainer. I would give it 4.5/5 stars for the area and 3/5 for the lodge.
Update 1/15/15: This is my second season skiing there and I would like to point out some other things I noticed:
1) Bristol is more like an every day skiers mountain than a resort. While people do come from all over, there are less amenities than a lot of the resorts I have been to in the past. They also have a lot of night skiing as it seems to be their bread and butter. School kids, racers, and 9-5'ers (like me) fill up the slopes on the weekday nights. There are more people there on weekday nights than on weekends it seems.
2) The staff there are very friendly
3) They really could use changing rooms or a mens/womens public locker room, after getting off from work it would be nice to have a place to change into my gear. The bathrooms can get pretty dirty, with a lot of people there and people prop the door open so there is no real "good place" to comfortably change. They do have a locker room, w/ a changing room, though it is only open to people who rent season lockers. As lockers are about half the price of the season ticket and I prefer keeping my gear with me, I don't see them as a good value for me.
Pros: Great snowmaking and lifts excellent vertical and terrain for the geographic location very good facilites.
Cons: Limited on hill or close lodging and restaurants, no nightlife,experts skiers may lack a challenge.
Bristol is my home mountain. It's about a 45 minute drive from my house in Rochester and I probably get 50-60 days there in a good year. I've skied there since I first started in the early '80s. I've been a passholder since the mid '90's, and feel I know it pretty well.
Stats: 1200 feet vertical (highest between the Adirondacks/Catskills and the Rockies) 34 slopes and trails, 98% snowmaking. Lifts are 2 High speed quads, 1 fixed quad, 1 fixed triple, 1 fixed double, and a magic carpet in the bunny area. Two lodges with food service, a large yurt type structure for special events, a yurt demo center/cross country rental building at the top of the hill, and and an a small on hill cafe open limited hours serving Belgian waffles. Main parking lot is paved,overflow parking is gravel.
Hill: As stated, 98% of the hill has snowmaking primarily by Areco fan guns. All but one of the slopes are lit for night skiing. The breakdown on terrain is 32% novice, 50% intermediate, and 18% advanced. There is a terrain park with a halfpipe.
Pros: All my comments need to be put in perspective-remember this is Western NY, not the Rockies, Lake Tahoe or the Alps.
Snowmaking: Bristol does a great job with snowmaking and grooming. As mentioned, the majority of the hill is covered by Areco fan guns and the mangement is not afraid to turn them on. The past two winters have been temperature and weather roller coasters and they've managed to produce a very acceptable season under adverse conditions.
Lifts: Two high speed quads on a 1200' hill means lots of vertical in a short period of time-average lift time is about 4-5 minutes. There is a fixed triple out of the main base area which is run on busy weekends and if a backup is needed.
Lodges: The old main lodge had a facelift last year which upgraded the food service considerably. The events building has relieved a lot of the race day traffic.
Terrain: Excellent for the geographic location. Nice mix of greens, blues and blacks, although the blacks would be considered blues out west. Advanced/expert skiers won't find anything to be a challenge, but they probably won't get bored skiing here for a day.
Cons: Biggest con for the out of towner is lack of close lodging and nightlife.Closest towns are Canandaigua (15 minutes) and Naples (15 minutes). No sit down on dining at the resort, and the bar closes not long after the mountain at 10:00. Terrain might be a negative, but I assume that a visitor knows he or she is skiing in Western NY and adjusts their expectations accordingly.
I've skied at Bristol for the last 30 years and since their emergence from bank ownership in the early '80s I've seen improvements every year. Lifts, snowmaking, lodges and overall facilites are better every year in contrast to other local areas that have remained stagnant or have regressed.Their biggest competition is the Ellicottville NY resorts-Holiday Valley and semi private Holimont. Plans are to add more terrain, new condos and on hill lodging-obviously as a day skier terrain is #1 for me.
Would I recommend a trip? Can't say I'd choose it over Vermont, New Hampshire or the West, but if you're coming from Ohio, Western PA or Ontario, give it a try rather than the Ellicottville area-I think you'll be impressed!
Pros: Vertical for location can't be beat
Cons: Crowded. Food in need a big upgrade.
Bristol is my home mountain. 1200 feet of vertical isn't too bad for western NY. The place gets crowded nights with school ski clubs and there's a lot of racing going on weekends. There is one high speed quad but I have it from a pretty good source there will be another added during the summer of 2009. The current owner has been doing a good job making improvements every year.
There is no nightlife at the mountain. There's a bar in the main lodge and one half a mile up the road. I don't care as I go to ski.
Season passes are a great deal. Last year my family (three of us) skied enough that it cost us less than $60 per day!