THEY say if Aspen is for millionaires then Beaver Creek is for billionaires.
Sitting in the famous Colorado ski fields, Beaver Creek resort is renowned for its champagne snow but it is different from the rest. It has built itself around being exclusive, from its gated communities to private member clubs — it’s where the rich quietly go to play.
The best way to reach Beaver Creek is to fly into Eagle Vail airport where you’ll see more private jets than anywhere else in the world. From here it’s just a 30 minute drive away.
Beaver Creek resort’s luxury offering has earned it the tagline “not exactly roughing it”. As pretentious as this may sound, the resort is surprisingly anything but.
In fact Beaver Creek has a family feel. It’s friendly and low key. Skiers don’t go to Beaver Creek to be seen. It’s not about flaunting your thousand dollar fur jacket through the village, it’s more about a day on the slopes and a chance to “get away from it all”.
There’s nothing like a blue sky day, perfect snow and a mountain to yourself.
Skiing is made easy in Beaver Creek with escalators taking you straight to the gondola.
Instead of the celebrities you’ll find in Aspen, the Beaver Creek crowd are more likely to be CEOs, hedge fund managers and American Presidents. President Ford was a fixture at Beaver Creek owning a chalet on the mountain that even had a wing for his secret service.
Beaver Creek resort has three distinct mountain areas ranging from gentle, groomed slopes to open intermediate trails to steep bumps. It offers over 735 hectares of terrain and a 1018 metre vertical rise.
From its modest opening in 1980, Beaver Creek now has 25 lifts and over 150 runs. It is world class skiing and it attracts the skiing elite. The governor at the time, Richard Lamm, declared it the “Tiffany’s of ski areas”
And that it is. Beaver Creek is a full service resort. A paved village links a thread of high end shops, a series of escalators take skiers to the foot of the mountain, and an on call village shuttle service picks you up and drops you up wherever and whenever you would like to go. If that’s not enough, free piping hot cookies are handed out at 3pm every day, there’s an ice rink in the middle of town, and a ski rental company that even comes to your hotel to fit you out.
An ice rink sits in the middle of the village and ringed by high end shops. Photo: Beaver Creek Resort.
Groomed runs as well as steep verticals and bumps.
This feeling of exclusivity is entwined in Beaver Creek’s history. The grand Ritz Carlton sits at the bottom of a gated area known as Bachelor Gulch. Developed in 1995, the history of the area dates back 100 years to the 1900s when five single men moved here to raise cattle and chicken and grow hay and lettuce. It soon became known as the area of the bachelors and some of their huts can still be seen today.
The Ritz Carlton is home to Spago, the restaurant of famous celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck. In keeping with the bachelor theme, it has a private adults only club with hukkah pipes and experimental cocktails.
If hotels are not your scene, the valley is dotted with serviced apartments including Snow Cloud Lodge, a ski in ski out with huge rooms and amenities including kitchen and a laundry.
But you don’t have to be super rich to ski at Beaver Creek. On mountain dining ranges from fine dining to casual restaurants to outdoor barbecues such as Mamie’s Mountain Grill where you can sit outside on a clear day and cook your own burgers or snags while sipping on a local brew from the outdoor bar.
Inside the prestigious Zach’s Cabin that opens at night to the public.
Free cookies are handed out everyday at 3pm still warm from the oven.
And the public aren’t completely banned from the private member cabins. At night some of them open up for dinner and the experience is straight out of a fairy tale.
Guests are driven up in an open air sleigh behind a snow cat with blankets to keep you warm with an enthusiastic guide pointing out the sites along the way.
Zach’s Cabin is one of those clubs and sits at the top of Bachelor Gulch. It is modestly grand, designed with huge wooden beams and decorated with moose heads and ski relics. It’s menu reflects the region including hearty helpings of elk, duck and bison.
But for all its wealth, Beaver Creek is not too posh to have a laugh. The local bottle shop is cheekily named Beaver Liquors and has become so famous it now sells T-shirts, caps and bumper stickers.
The famous Beaver Liquors bottle shop.
But the main drawcard is of course the Colorado snow. Reliable, light and fluffy Beaver Creek doesn’t disappoint.
The biggest news for Australian skiers is that the owners of Beaver Creek, Vail Resorts, have recently bought Perisher. Until the end of this month, skiers can buy the Perisher Freedom Pass with Epic Benefits that provides unlimited access to Perisher plus unlimited access to Vail Resorts other 11 properties — Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin in Colorado; Park City and Canyons in Utah; Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood in Lake Tahoe, California; Afton Alps, Minnesota and Mt. Brighton, Michigan- as well as a complimentary 10 days at Vail and or Beaver Creek.
This reporter was a guest of Vail Resorts.
Eagle Vail airport is home to more private jets and helicopters than any other airport in the world.
The picturesque village of Beaver Creek, where the billionaires prefer to play.