10 things we love about Beaver Creek

Beaver Creek bills itself as a luxury ski area, and danged if there isn’t something to that. It’s not just that you’re stopped at the gate and asked where you might be going todaythe exclusivity continues with its narrow layout, which makes heading up to Beaver Creek Village feel like one big, long driveway to a private party.

The splendor is echoed in high- end lodgings, and the sumptuousness carries over to the large percentage of upscale restaurants, chichi shops and the fact that everything looks like it was just cleaned by elves.

But look beyond the ever-twinkling tree lights and the World Cup accolades, and this is one groovy spot where families are welcome and real people hang.

Here are 10 other reasons why we love BC.

It’s dressed in the best corduroy

Beaver Creek is one well- groomed cool cat. Those snow- scrapers are out there about 20 hours a day scouring the slopes for renegade rough patches, which spells smooth turns and steep, dreamy screamers for fans of the groomers and the low- to-solid intermediates.

What lift lines?

On a recent snowy Saturday, in the time it took Mick to croon “Please allow me to introduce myself/I’m a man of wealth and taste/ I’ve been around for a long, long year/Stole many a man’s soul and fate,” we made it onto the Centennial Express Lift. We have sympathy for anyone who has to stand in a lift line longer than that.

They love everyone’s kids

Kids are catered to here — not in an obnoxious, helicopter-hovering way, but in an inclusive kind of way. The new Ranch, a ski and snowboard school, helps kids feel like they’re not being sent to a reform school for group lessons, and the on-mountain center has its own Buckaroo Express Gondola to help with those initial lift panic attacks. In addition, this is a family-friendly place with lots of free programs, including fresh-baked cookies by the firepits at the end of the day (visit beavercreek.snow .com/info/winter/fam.daily.asp).

Lodging we like

From hidden condos off the beaten path to plenty of ski-in, ski-out spots nestled against the mountains, Beaver Creek is famous for its accommodations. New this season (see Page 2T for specifics): the Osprey at Beaver Creek, the closest hotel to a lift in North America, and the Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa in Avon, with the Riverfront Express Gondola out the back door. But don’t forget about the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek, with its world-class spa, and the gorgeous Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch, as well as the Old World-style Poste Montane.

The Birds of Prey, baby

There’s a reason the World Cup is held here: It’s steep, it’s challenging, and the views are killer. Even Bode Miller feels the burn on the super- groomed, double-diamond downhill, and the Bird runs are where the advanced and experts go to find the torturous trees and bomber bumps.

Lobster at Zach’s Cabin

There are many delicious dishes on the menu at the toasty-warm Zach’s (970-754-6575), especially appreciated after the snowcat- pulled “sleigh” ride to this casually elegant restaurant between Arrowhead and Bachelor Gulch. And then you tuck in to the decadent, perfectly grilled lobster tail set atop a fluffy mound of lemon-truffle-kissed, buttery mashed potatoes. Wow.

Twinkle-lighted ice skating

Open year-round, the charming Black Family Ice Rink in the heart of the Village is hard to pass up ($5, skate rental extra). Watch for free family nights.

Beer and pizza at the Blue Moose

Regular folks know that the locals hangout is the Blue Moose (76 Avondale Lane, 970-845-8666, bluemoosepizza.com), where the pies are big, crackly-edged and topped with yummy things, and the beer is always cold. Draw a pretty picture with your crayons on the butcher paper, and they just might hang it up.

Spago for lunch

It’s not for the bargain-seeker or the calorie-conscious, but for a splurge treat, work your way over to Bachelor Gulch, where the payoff is to step inside the spiffy Ritz-Carlton and Wolfgang Puck’s Spago (0130 Daybreak Ridge, 970-343-1555, wolfgangpuck.com), which serves the celeb chef’s signature pizzas and crisp service.

Everybody’s welcome

For all its strutting, Beaver Creek finally feels more like a resort for one and all — assisted by the enhanced access for those not staying inside the gate. Now you can lodge in Avon if you want and ride the Riverfront Express Gondola to Bachelor Gulch, or there’s still free parking in the Elk and Bear parking lots west of the main gate, and then ride the free shuttles to either Beaver Creek Landing or up to the Village.

— Kyle Wagner

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