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.
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.
Edited by solarity - 2/25/14 at 2:43pm