The Chateau Beaver Creek offers a touch of European opulence in Colorado.
It’s the middle of a ski season that has so far been excellent across many of the nation’s prime ski and snowboard regions, so it seems like a good time to highlight some really excellent ski hotels. Just about every top destination resort has at least one standout, some have several, and since I have been to every destination ski resort in the U.S. (except Taos) and stayed at just about all of the nation’s best ski hotels, I have a pretty good frame of reference. In this Best Ski Hotels series, I will explore and explain what makes my favorites my favorites.
Today we head to Beaver Creek, Colorado! (Other great ski hotels in this series include the Four Seasons Jackson Hole, WY, and the Ritz-Carlton Northstar, CA in Lake Tahoe).
This living room in one of the rental units is a pretty typical representation of the spacious comfort you’ll find at the Chateau Beaver Creek.
Chateau Beaver Creek
The Resort: To put it bluntly, Beaver Creek is the most upscale, high touch, customer service driven ski resort in the nation (sorry Deer Valley, you’re second, which is still great, unless you’re a snowboarder in which case you are tied for dead last). It is the highest end of the many high-end mountains within the Vail Resorts portfolio, which is saying something, and it’s included in the company’s industry leading multi-mountain Epic Pass. If you want to feel like a valued special guest and have deep pockets, Beaver Creek is the place to go. From the heated sidewalks to immaculate grooming, bend over backwards staff to the famous free hot chocolate chip cookies, the resort has spent decades perfecting the best customer service practices. However, unlike some other destinations chasing this niche, they also have really good and varied terrain, which often gets overlooked because many people associate luxury and pampering with being “soft.” Not so: Beaver Creek has one of the nation’s best selections of black and double black bump runs, an in-bounds backcountry style steep and deep experience, and America’s premier men’s and women’s downhill race courses, open to any members of the public who want to ski something really steep in the footsteps of champions like Bode Miller and Lindsay Vonn. At the same time, it has an over the top excellent children’s learning center with its own gondola so little kids can learn to ski before learning to ride the chairs, perfect corduroy grooming, and everything in between. They also have a unique and standout Nordic center.
Because Beaver Creek was purpose built from the ground up to make the guest experience the best it could be, just about all the lodging, hotels, homes and condos, are ski-in/ski-out, and there are a greater number of house rental-style accommodations here than at many resorts, taking the place of what would otherwise likely be a few more luxury hotels. Nonetheless there are two notable players, the Park Hyatt, which I used to love but remodeled, expanded and became much more impersonal, and the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch, which is a great hotel with an unfortunate location removed from Beaver Creek village, the center of all non-skiing activity here. Don’t get me wrong, both have a lot to offer and great features and you can have a first-rate ski vacation at either, but if you want the very best physical accommodations with the personal touch of a boutique hotel while staying in the village, it’s hard to beat the lesser known Chateau.
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The facilities all are more than you’d expect from a property with so few units, including this state of the art gym. There is also a great just redone spa and brand new yoga & movement studio.
Chateau Beaver Creek
The Hotel: The Chateau Beaver Creek is an extremely high-end residence property built with a European luxury aesthetic that is also run as a boutique hotel, with about 20 of the 65 jaw-dropping 1-5 bedroom ski-in/ski-out condos in a nightly rental pool. Almost all of these are nicer than the Presidential Suite at a “normal” luxury hotel, and they can compete toe to toe with the also opulent residences at the Ritz-Carlton, only they are cheaper, in the village, and they constitute the entire hotel portion of the property. Most rooms are in two main buildings linked by a pedestrian bridge, while there is also an enclave of townhome style units behind gates, and the largest 5-bedroom, the Chalet, is a freestanding home tucked into the trees next to the main building. Lodgings are extremely well appointed, but unlike many hotels where they force owners putting units into the rental pool to adopt certain furniture packages, these are very much individually owned and decorated, and most of the units feature commercial-style gourmet kitchens and every residential bell and whistle, from steam showers to whirlpool baths, washer/dryers to heated floors to L’Occitane’s higher end almond line of toiletries.
Alaskan King Crab pasta anyone? Splendido at the Chateau has long been considered the best restaurant in Beaver Creek. Dominique Taylor
One big highlight of the Chateau is its main restaurant, Splendido, which has generally been regarded as the best restaurant in Beaver Creek for years – but now is even better. Guests come from all the other properties to eat here, and I have been a couple of times over the years, but the new chef is excellent and is also growing his own vegetables down valley, raising his own heritage breed Duroc pigs, which are increasingly finding their way onto the menu, and generally doing a bang-up job. Splendido is definitely fine dining, and has a great wine list too, but they also make a killer burger, and this is provided through room service. It is only open for dinner, and it’s the only restaurant on property, a drawback that keeps the Chateau from being a true full service hotel, but in ski season there is a daily complimentary breakfast spread provided in the ski-in/ski-out locker-room facility, which switches over to après heavy snacks with hot soup and charcuterie in the afternoon, and the hotel contacts all incoming guest about pre-stocking the ample kitchens.
The hotel just completed a wave of upgrades, including a totally redone spa, and both the men’s and women’s locker rooms have their own steam, sauna and whirlpool bath, equivalent to the facilities at spas serving properties ten times this size. Also, they are open to everyone, unlike many hotels that only let you use these if you are having a treatment. I’m a big fan of steam and sauna, and I never saw another guest. Because it’s small, instead of keeping their own therapists on staff, they cherry pick from local salons that have a lot of regular customers. I always assumed that full-time staff was the better way to go, but I was wrong. My wife and I have had had more treatments than I can recall at topnotch luxury properties around the world, and both our massages here, with different therapists, were top three all-time, and that cannot be a coincidence. Just stupendous.
Likewise, the state-of-the-art gym seems too large and well equipped for the size of the resort, and they just added a brand-new fitness and movement studio where guests can take complimentary yoga, Pilates and other popular fitness classes. Guests get lockers with boot heaters in the well-equipped “skiers’ lounge,” there’s an indoor/outdoor pool that runs under an exterior wall, and a couple of outdoor hot tubs throughout the property. They have on demand house cars and pretty much everything else you need to have an awesome ski vacation at one of America’s best ski resorts.