As with the majority of the area’s resorts, the heart of Beaver Creek is a mountainside village. What sets Beaver Creek apart is that it is a series of cascading plazas connected by escalators. In this ultraposh enclave, even boot-wearing skiers and snowboard-hauling riders ride the escalators from the hotels and shuttle stops on the lower levels. Opened in 1980 as a smaller version of Vail, Beaver Creek has overshadowed its older sibling. In fact, its nearest rival in the luxury market is Utah’s Deer Valley.
Locals know that Beaver Creek is the best place to ski on weekends when Vail is too crowded, or anytime there’s fresh powder. Beaver Creek is just far enough from Denver that it doesn’t get the flood of daytrippers who flock to Vail and the other Front Range resorts. The slopes of Beaver Creek Mountain are connected to those of even ritzier Bachelor Gulch. These are close to Arrowhead, creating a village-to-village ski experience like those found in Europe.
Savvy travelers have learned that Beaver Creek is even more lovely in summer, when diners can enjoy a meal on a spacious patio, mountain bikers can hitch a ride uphill on the chairlift, and golfers can play on the beautiful Beaver Creek Course or one the dozen others in the Vail Valley. On special evenings you can attend concerts, get tickets to the theater, or head to a performance at the Beaver Creek Vilar Center for the Arts. In Beaver Creek you have easy access to all of the activities in Vail Valley.
Beaver Creek speaks loudly and clearly to a settled and affluent crowd, but visitors on a budget can also enjoy the resort’s many attractions. Just drive past the pricier lodgings in the village and opt instead for a room in nearby Avon, Edwards, or even Vail.
Downhill Skiing & Snowboarding
Beaver Creek is a piece of nirvana, partly because of its system of trails and partly because of its enviable location two hours from Denver. Although only a third the size of Vail, Beaver Creek is seldom crowded. The skiable terrain extends from the runs down Beaver Creek to the slopes around Bachelor Gulch to the network of trails at Arrowhead. You can easily ski from one village to another.
Beaver Creek has a little of everything, from smoother slopes for beginners to difficult trails used for international competitions. Grouse Mountain, in particular, is famed for its thigh-burning bump runs. Beginners have an entire peak, at the summit of Beaver Creek Mountain, where they can learn to ski or practice on novice trails. (And newcomers can return to the village on one of the lifts if they are too tired to take the long trail all the way to the bottom.)
Intermediate-level skiers have several long cruising trails on the lower half of Beaver Creek Mountain and in Larkspur Bowl. Both locations also have black-diamond trails, so groups of skiers and snowboarders of varying abilities can ride uphill together. The Birds of Prey runs are aptly named, because the steepness of the trails can be a surprise for skiers who mistakenly think they are skilled enough to take on this challenging terrain.
The slopes of neighboring Bachelor Gulch are a mix of beginner and intermediate trails. Here you can often find fresh powder hours after it’s gone elsewhere. Many of the open slopes weave past multimillion-dollar homes where the cost of real estate is even higher than in Beaver Creek. The Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch, which sits at the base of the lift, is one of the region’s most beautiful hotels. A stop here is a must for any architecture buff. Many skiers plan to arrive in time for a hearty lunch at Remington’s or an après-ski cocktail in the Buffalo Bar or the Fly Fishing Library. There are shuttles handy to take you back to Beaver Creek.
The third village in the area, Arrowhead, has the best and usually the least crowded intermediate terrain. Locals take advantage of sunny days by sitting on the spacious deck at the Broken Arrow Café. It’s not much more than a shack, but the burgers can’t be beat. Developed as a ski area for residents of the gated community of Arrowhead, Beaver Creek was linked to the nearby slopes via lifts when purchased by Vail Resorts. Beaver CreekPHONE: 800/404-3533. www.beavercreek.com.
3,340-foot vertical drop; 1,625 skiable acres; 34% beginner, 39% intermediate, 27% advanced; 7 high-speed quad chairs, 3 triple chairs, 3 double chairs.
Lessons & Programs
The Vail and Beaver Creek Ski and Snowboard School (PHONE: 970/476-3239) runs classes at both resorts. At Beaver Creek there are about 600 instructors; lessons are offered in more than 20 languages. Afternoon-only group lessons are $65 to $80, depending upon the season. All-day lessons are $75 to $100. Special workshops and clinics are offered throughout the year. Beginners take three-day courses that include equipment rental and lift passes. Workshops for women, teen sessions, and telemark courses are among the programs targeting specific groups of skiers.
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Most vacationers purchase lift-and-lodging packages for Beaver Creek, or go online to www.snow.com and purchase multi-day lift passes at discounted rates. A lift ticket purchased at Beaver Creek may also be used at Vail, Breckenridge, Keystone, and Arapahoe Basin.
Beaver Creek Sports (Beaver Creek Village, Beaver Creek, CO, USA. PHONE: 970/854-5400) rents ski equipment for $20 to $45, depending upon whether you choose regular or high-performance gear.
Nordic SkiingTrack Skiing
The prettiest place for cross-country skiing is McCoy Park, with more than 19 mi of trails groomed for traditional cross-country skiing, skate-skiing, and snowshoeing, all laid out around a mountain peak. To reach McCoy Park, take the Strawberry Park chairlift — a plus because it gets you far enough from the village that you’re in a pristine environment. The groomed tracks have a fair amount of ups and downs (or perhaps because the elevation rises to 9,840 feet, it just seems that way). Lessons, equipment rentals, and guided tours are available through Beaver Creek Nordic Sports Center (PHONE: 970/845-5313).
Other Sports & the Outdoors
The Activities Desk of Vail (PHONE: 970/476-9090) gives you the lowdown on many of the activities in the region, summer or winter.
Each summer, riders from around the region participate in races sponsored by the Beaver Creek & Vail Summer Adventure Ridge Mountain Challenge (700 S. Frontage Rd. E, Vail, CO, USA. PHONE: 970/479-2280, www.vailrec.com).
Whether you’re looking for a full-body massage or a workout on state-of-the-art equipment, it’s easy to find in Beaver Creek. In the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek, the Allegria Spa (136 E. Thomas Pl., Beaver Creek, CO, USA. PHONE: 970/748-7500) has a full range of services, including a wonderful "barefoot" massage.
If you’re serious about improving your game, check into the Chuck Cook Golf Academy (376 Red Sky Rd., Wolcott, CO, USA. PHONE: 970/477-8350). Named one of the top-50 instructors by Golf Digest, Cook has coached U.S. Open champions Payne Stewart, Tom Kite and Corey Pavin. Cook uses high-tech tools at the academy’s intense two- and three-day sessions. For example, he employs four cameras to record your swing so that he can analyze everything from your stance to your grip.
The first four holes of the Beaver Creek Course (103 Offerson Rd., Beaver Creek, CO, USA. PHONE: 970/845-5775) plummet downward through a narrow ravine. Then the course meanders through a curvaceous valley before climbing back uphill. Guests of the Park Hyatt at Beaver Creek get preferred tee times.
The Cotton Ranch Golf Club (530 Cotton Ranch Dr., Gypsum, CO, USA. PHONE: 970/524-6200) designed by Pete Dye, climbs around a rocky mesa. There are plenty of blind holes and precipitous drop-offs, especially on the eighth hole.
At the Lodge & Spa at Cordillera, the Course at Cordillera (2205 Cordillera Way, Edwards, CO, USA. PHONE: 970/926-5100) is actually three 18-hole courses and a 10-hole course. Hotel guests can play the Jack Nicklaus-designed Summit Course, which surrounds a peak like a string of pearls. Hale Irwin’s Mountain Course runs through aspen groves, past lakes, and through meadows surrounded by luxury homes. The Valley Course is something of a misnomer, as it’s chock-full of elevation changes and tee shots over vertigo-inspiring ravines. The Dave Pelz-designed 10-hole course lets you show off (or make you practice) your short-game skills.
A few miles west of Beaver Creek, the Red Sky Golf Club (376 Red Sky Rd., Wolcott, CO, USA. PHONE: 970/477-8400) is a tony private club where members alternate with guests on two courses designed by Tom Fazio and Greg Norman. The Tom Fazio course’s front nine are laid out on sagebrush-covered hills, but the back nine flows up and down a mountainside covered with groves of junipers and aspens. The Greg Norman Course sprawls through a broad valley. Some shots require carries across jagged ravines. Norman’s signature bunkers abound, guarding slippery greens. In order to play at Red Sky Golf Club, you must be staying in the Lodge at Vail, the Pines Lodge in Beaver Creek, the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch, or other hotels owned by Vail Resorts.
The Beaver Creek Hiking Center (Beaver Creek Village, Beaver Creek, CO, USA. PHONE: 970/845-9090) arranges everything from easy walks to difficult hikes. If you’re traveling with kids, ask about educational programs.
Beaver Creek Stable. Mailing address: Box 2050, Eagle, CO, USA. PHONE: 970/845-9090. arranges outings ranging from one-hour rides to all-day excursions. Many trips include a tasty picnic lunch. In the evenings there are hayrides and sunset rides.
Where to Stay & Eat
Beano’s Cabin. One of the memorable experiences during a trip to Beaver Creek is traveling in a sleigh to this former hunting lodge. (In summer, you can get here on horseback or even by shuttle van.) During the journey, your driver will undoubtedly fill you in on some local history. The pine-log cabin, warmed by a crackling fire, is an unbeatable location for a romantic meal. Choose from among the entrées that change with the seasons. Pair pan-seared buffalo carpaccio with wood-grilled venison, then top it all off with a bourbon pecan torte. Larkspur Bowl, Beaver Creek, CO, USA. PHONE: 970/949-9090. Reservations essential. AE, MC, V.
Remington’s. In this stunning two-story space in the Ritz-Carlton, hammered wrought-iron chandeliers cast a flattering light on the diners — a mix of casually dressed skiers and hikers and business executives taking a meeting. Ski slopes rise just outside the wall of windows. Innovative regional cuisine is perhaps the best way to describe the entrées created by executive chef Stephan Schupbach, who hails from Switzerland. The menu changes often, but look for creatively prepared bison, salmon, steak, and Colorado trout. 0130 Daybreak Ridge Rd., Avon, CO, USA. PHONE: 970/748-6200. Reservations essential. AE, MC, V.
Splendido. With elegant marble columns and custom-made Italian linens, this posh eatery is the height of opulence. Chef David Walford is a master of new American cuisine, and he borrows freely from many traditions. He is equally adept at turning out rack of lamb with rosemary as he is grilling up an elk loin with braised elk osso buco. Retire for a nightcap to the classically elegant piano bar, where Bob Finnie tickles the ivories. 17 Chateau La., Beaver Creek, CO, USA. PHONE: 970/845-8808. AE, D, DC, MC, V. No lunch.
Mirabelle. Set in a restored farmhouse at the entrance to Beaver Creek, Mirabelle is one of the area’s loveliest restaurants. Chef Daniel Joly serves superb Belgian-French cuisine. His preparations are a perfect blend of colors, flavors, and textures. The menu changes regularly, but if available try hot foie gras with caramelized golden apples, and roasted elk medallions in a red-wine sauce accompanied by poached baby pear, potato gnocchi, and rhubarb coulis. Depending on your point of view, the elaborate desserts are either heavenly or sinful. The extensive wine list has garnered notice from Wine Spectator. 55 Village Rd., Beaver Creek, CO, USA. PHONE: 970/949-7728. AE, D, MC, V. Closed Sun. No lunch.
TraMonti Ristorante. This breezy trattoria in The Charter at Beaver Creek showcases the vibrant cuisine of chef Curtis Cooper. He loves experimenting with bold juxtapositions of flavors and is most at home with creative pizzas, such as spicy shrimp with fennel, roasted peppers, basil, feta, and infused garlic oil. Try lobster ravioli in saffron cream sauce, spaghetti puttanesca, or the osso buco. 120 Offerson Rd., Beaver Creek, CO, USA. PHONE: 970/949-5552. AE, MC, V. No lunch.
Vue. This bistro in the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort & Spa got its name because diners are treated to a lovely view of the outdoor ice rink at Beaver Creek Village. In this intimate space, dinners for two are made even more intimate when diners share a plush banquette. European-trained executive chef Pascal Coudouy shows off his range with constantly changing menus. Look for starters such as lobster consommé and caviar, followed by pan-seared black bass or gingerbread-crusted rack of lamb. For a sample of his skills, try the six-course tasting menu. 136 E. Thomas Pl., Beaver Creek, CO, USA. PHONE: 970/949-1234. Reservations essential. AE, MC, V. Closed Sun. and Mon.
Toscanini. You have a ringside seat at the ice rink in the heart of Beaver Creek when you dine at this casual eatery. The menu is authentic Italian, starting with a variety of dipping oils for the fresh bread, then antipasti such as oven-roasted mushrooms topped with fontina and a balsamic reduction. Entrées include gourmet pizzas, such as the "Pizza Anatra" with duck confit, carmelized onions, grilled red radicchio, and Gorgonzola. Don’t pass up the grilled Argentine ribeye steak with Colorado goat cheese, baby carrots, and demi-glace. Market Square, Beaver Creek, CO, USA. PHONE: 970/845-5590. AE, D, MC, V.
The Gashouse. This longtime hangout set inside a 1930s-era log cabin has walls covered with hunting trophies. (If stuffed animal heads aren’t your thing, think twice about eating here.) Locals swear by the steak, prime rib, and fresh salmon. Stop in for a brew and some buffalo wings and watch how some of the Vail Valley residents kick back. 4 mi west of Beaver Creek on Rte. 6, Edwards, CO, USA. PHONE: 970/926-3613. AE, MC, V.
Fiesta’s. The Marquez sisters, Debbie and Susan, use old family recipes brought to Colorado by their great-grandparents to create great Southwestern cuisine. Among the favorites are chicken enchiladas in a white jalapeño sauce and blue-corn enchiladas served Santa Fe-style with an egg on top. Handmade corn tamales are stuffed with pork and smothered in a classic New Mexican-chile sauce. The eatery in Edwards Plaza is brightly decorated with New Mexican-folk art and paintings. More than 20 tequilas keep the bar — and patrons — hopping. 57 Edwards Access Rd., Edwards, CO, USA. PHONE: 970/926-2121. AE, D, MC, V.
Gore Range Brewery. After a morning on the slopes or an afternoon playing a few rounds of golf, locals gravitate here for a burger or spicy ribs and a locally brewed beer. In the Edwards Village Center, the place is a blend of high-tech styling and a laid-back aura. 0105 Edwards Village Blvd., Edwards, CO, USA. PHONE: 970/926-2739. AE, MC, V.
Narayan’s. When it’s time for the lunch buffet, the locals who fill this no-frills restaurant in the Christy Lodge hop from table to table catching up on the latest news. For dinner, there’s a full menu of culinary offerings from Nepal. Carefully prepared entrées include chicken tikka, made with fresh ginger, garlic, and a light tomato and onion sauce full of herbs and spices (it’s also a delicious vegetarian dish when made with chickpeas). The stomach-filling soups are full of chunks of lamb or chicken. Curries and other Indian dishes round out the menu. 47 E. Beaver Creek Blvd., Avon, CO, USA. PHONE: 970/748-1404. AE, D, MC, V.
Beaver Creek Lodge. A central atrium grabs all the attention at this European-style lodge. Rooms are generously proportioned — you’ll probably get more space for your money here than at most other properties in the heart of the village. Rooms have kitchenettes (a few have full kitchens) and gas-burning fireplaces to keep out the chill. The Beaver Creek Chophouse is the perfect place to fuel up after a day on the slopes. 26 Avondale La., Beaver Creek, CO, 81620, USA. PHONE: 970/845-9800. FAX: 970/845-8242. www.beavercreeklodge.net. 72 suites. Restaurant, kitchenettes, indoor-outdoor pool, health club, hot tub, spa, ski shop, bar, meeting room. AE, MC, V.
The Charter at Beaver Creek. With its elegantly angled blue-slate roof, this sprawling property is one of the area’s handsomest accommodations. Wisps of smoke from the fireplaces found in many rooms rise above, giving the place a homey feel. There are plenty of choices for rooms, including one- to five-bedroom condominiums, many with balconies that let you gaze over the tops of the trees. The location is perfect — the ski-in/ski-out hotel is a short walk from the main plaza at Beaver Creek. Relax at the pool or indulge yourself with a facial at the spa. For dinner there’s the casual Terrace Restaurant. 120 Offerson Rd., Beaver Creek, CO, 81620, USA. PHONE: 970/949-6660 or 800/525-6660. FAX: 970/949-6709. www.thecharter.com. 65 rooms, 115 condominiums. 2 restaurants, refrigerators, cable TV, in-room VCRs, 2 pools, gym, 2 hot tubs, spa, ski shop, business services, meeting rooms, convention center. AE, MC, V.
Lodge & Spa at Cordillera. An aura of quiet luxury prevails at this mountaintop lodge, with a decor that calls to mind the finest alpine hotels. The rooms vary quite a bit in size; those in the newer wing tend to be larger. There are wood-burning fireplaces in some of the older rooms, whereas the newer rooms have gas fireplaces. You can luxuriate in the spa after a morning spent hiking or cross-country skiing, or swim in the indoor pool with a view of the mountains through the wall of windows. Don’t miss a meal at Picasso, which for years has been one of the region’s top restaurants. The lodge is in the gated community of Cordillera, 15 minutes from Beaver Creek. The lodge operates a shuttle to the lifts. 2205 Cordillera Way, Box 1110, Edwards, CO, 81632, USA. PHONE: 970/926-2200 or 800/877-3529. FAX: 970/926-2486. www.cordillera-vail.com. 56 rooms. 4 restaurants, 1 10-hole golf course, 3 18-hole golf courses, indoor pool, outdoor pool, health club, 2 hot tubs, spa, cross-country skiing, bar, business services, meeting rooms; no smoking. AE, D, MC, V.
Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort & Spa. With a magnificent antler chandelier and towering windows opening out onto the mountain, the lobby of this hotel manages to be both cozy and grand. Rooms are designed with skiers in mind, so they have nice touches like heated towel racks. Perhaps the ultimate in pampering is stepping into your warmed and waiting ski boots. Once the boots are off, enjoy a hot toddy by the outdoor fire pit. The on-site Allegria Spa and the nearby Beaver Creek Golf Club (with preferred tee times for guests) make this hotel popular with nonskiers. 136 E. Thomas Pl., Beaver Creek, CO, 81620, USA. PHONE: 970/949-1234 or 800/233-1234. FAX: 970/949-4164. www.beavercreek.hyatt.com. 275 rooms, 31 suites. 2 restaurants, snack bar, in-room data ports, 5 tennis courts, pool, health club, 8 hot tubs, spa, 2 bars, lounge, children’s programs, business services, meeting rooms. AE, D, DC, MC, V.
Pines Lodge. This ski-in/ski-out lodge is a winner, combining upscale accommodations with an unpretentious atmosphere. The aura of laid-back luxury comes from little extras such as afternoon tea by the fireplace in the lobby and a ski concierge who can arrange a complimentary guided tour or a free wax for your skis. Rooms vary in size, so ask for one at the end facing the mountain, which have an extra sofa for contemplating the views from the large windows. Many rooms have balconies overlooking the ski area. The Grouse Mountain Grill serves up superb new American cuisine in an unparalleled setting with huge picture windows. 141 Scott Hill Rd., Beaver Creek, CO, 81620, USA. PHONE: 970/845-7909 or 800/367-7625. FAX: 970/845-7809. www.rockresorts.com. 60 rooms, 12 suites. Restaurant, refrigerators, cable TV, in-room VCRs, in-room data ports, pool, gym, hot tub, spa, bar, lobby lounge, laundry service. AE, D, MC, V.
The Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch in Beaver Creek. This log and timber building with elaborate stonework is, in a word, spectacular. The hotel’s design is reminiscent of the grand old lodges in national parks like Yellowstone and Yosemite. The rooms — many with stone fireplaces — have a distinctly Western ambiance. For extra pampering stay on the club level, with its concierge service and never-ending supply of food and beverages in the private lounge. But no matter where you stay, you’ll get the level of service Ritz regulars expect. The excellent restaurant serves regional cuisine. For cocktails and cigars there’s the intimate Fly Fishing Library (worth a look just to see the fishing lures on the walls). 0130 Daybreak Ridge, Avon, CO, 81620, USA. PHONE: 970/748-6200. FAX: 970/748-6300. www.riztcarlton.com. 208 rooms, 29 suites. Restaurants, room service, in-room safes, minibars, in-room data ports, tennis courts, pool, health club, hot tubs, spa, bar, lounge, children’s programs, business services, meeting rooms. AE, D, MC, V.
Vail/Beaver Creek Reservations (PHONE: 800/525-2257) lets you book ahead at properties all over Vail Valley. You can also buy lift tickets, arrange ski lessons, and get updates on events and activities. Vail Valley Chamber and Tourism (PHONE: 800/824-5737) operates a central reservations service for properties in Vail, Avon, and Beaver Creek. It also gives out information on events and activities and reports on snow conditions in the winter.
Nightlife & the ArtsThe Arts
Vilar Center for the Arts (68 Avondale La., Beaver Creek, CO, USA. PHONE: 970/949-8497) is an artwork in itself, with gold-color wood paneling and an etched-glass mural re-creating with bold strokes the mountains outside. Seating more than 500, the horseshoe-shape auditorium has great views from just about every seat. Throughout the year there’s a stellar lineup of events, including concerts by orchestras and pop stars, great theater, and even a circus. In the surrounding plazas you’ll find many art galleries. Just walking around Beaver Creek is a feast for the eyes, because sculptures are set almost everywhere you look.
The boisterous Coyote Café (210 The Plaza, Beaver Creek, CO, USA. PHONE: 970/949-5001) is a kick-back-and-relax sort of place where locals hang out in the afternoon and evening. If you’re into local brews or giant margaritas, head to the Dusty Boot Saloon (St. James Place, Beaver Creek, CO, USA. PHONE: 970/748-1146). At the base of the mountain, McCoy’s Café (Village Hall, Beaver Creek, CO, USA. PHONE: 970/949-1234) draws crowds most afternoons in the winter months with live music. After attacking the moguls, unwind with a glass of wine or a single-malt scotch in the Whiskey Elk (136 E. Thomas Pl., Beaver Creek, CO, USA. PHONE: 970/949-1234). You can relax on overstuffed sofas and chairs placed around the fireplace at this lounge in the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek. There’s quieter music during après-ski hours and more raucous entertainment several evenings each week.
Christopher & Co. (Edwards Village Center, Edwards, CO, USA. PHONE: 970/926-8191) has vintage poster art dating from the 1890s to the 1950s. Depictions of American and European ski resorts are found among the more than 3,000 posters on display. You may not find the village’s namesake creatures fashioned in precious metals, but The Golden Bear (Village Hall, Beaver Creek, CO, USA. PHONE: 970/845-7881) has plenty of papa, mama, and baby bears. There’s also eye-catching jewelry and other accessories.
Walk carefully around the Pismo Gallery (Village Hall, Beaver Creek, CO, USA. PHONE: 970/949-0908), as there’s an outstanding collection of hand-blown glass. Look for the fragile, colorful creations by Dale Chihuly. There are lampshades, perfume bottles, and other gorgeous items. Although the Shaggy Ram (Edwards Village Center, Edwards, CO, USA. PHONE: 970/926-7377) sounds like it would stock mostly Western items, this shop is a large treasure trove of French and English antiques. Items range from fringed lamps to crystal decanters to elegant old desks. Look for the shop near the Gore Range Brewery.
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