Thu. Mar 30th, 2023


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A guide to the best of Colorado’s Beaver Creek ski resort

7 min read

Colorado is no stranger to luxury ski resorts, so when it comes to splurging for a winter weekend, Beaver Creek — which not long ago held the tagline “not exactly roughing it” and is entered via security gates that are manned 24-7 — fits right in.

Originally comprised of four chairlifts and 425 skiable acres, a mere fraction of today’s 24 chairlifts and 2,000-plus acres, Beaver Creek was always a swanky sanctuary of sorts for residents like former president Gerald Ford, who had a home on its slopes for decades.

Many of Beaver Creek’s landmarks — slopes, ski trails, cabins —  bear the names of homesteaders who once inhabited the area. The ski area was built in 1980 after founders Earl Eaton and Pete Seibert had flagged the landscape as prime resort terrain back in the 1950s, but they first developed Vail (which opened in 1962).

Here’s a little about what Beaver Creek has to offer.

Escalators and free warm cookies

Beaver Creek’s escalators are strategically placed and will deliver you directly to the base of the slopes. No matter your skiing or riding level, you can’t argue that during or after a day of hammering, it’s nice to kick back with your boards in hand and avoid stair climbing or descending.

But one of the resort’s most winning characteristics is its Cookie Time tradition. Every day at 3 p.m., bakers emerge with steaming silver platters in hand, making the rounds through the base area and village handing out free, freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. The tradition launched in 1985; in 2004, the resort made a competition out of it. Every autumn, bakers from near and far submit their best chocolate chip cookies. Five finalists are selected, and their cookies are made en masse and handed out on opening day. Guests vote on their favorite and the winner’s recipe is used throughout the season for Cookie Time.

Slope cornucopia for every level

While newbies to skiing and snowboarding can typically find a short, gentle slope at most any ski area, they would be hard-pressed to find many other places that have a gondola servicing said bunny hill. The Haymeadow Express Gondola eliminates the chances of face-planting off of a chairlift for first-timers, delivering passengers effortlessly to the Haymeadow learning area. Once beginners progress, they can make their way up to the top of the mountain, where the Red Buffalo Express chairlift services a handful of meticulously groomed, mildly sloped green runs. Opened in January 2022, the real gold mine for beginners with burgeoning skills is McCoy Park, a low-angle bowl offering 17 new trails (14 green and three blue) serviced by two new chairlifts.

Intermediate-level skiers and riders get pretty spoiled, too. The entirety of the resort’s Bachelor Gulch area is dedicated to long, smooth blue cruising runs. Adjoining Bachelor Gulch, Arrowhead boasts the same, also including an approachable black run or two. Intermediates who like wide open spaces will relish the bowl-like option of Larkspur or Stone Creek Meadows, which runs down the middle of Rose Bowl.

Advanced skiers and riders are not left out, either. For decades, Beaver Creek has been the only American ski area to regularly host the world’s fastest skiers on the Birds of Prey World Cup course. After the races wrap up in early December, the course is opened to the general public. Often, its double black-rated Golden Eagle trail is even groomed. Powder hounds can find untouched stashes amid the cliffs and rocks of the Stone Creek chutes all season long. Even on the busiest Saturday, you’ll never find a lift line on Grouse Mountain Express, which takes you to a series of long, powder-filled bump runs that will tire you out after a couple of laps.

Off-the-slope activities

As the centerpiece of the village, ice skating is clearly where the party is at, the outdoor rink open from 1 to 8 p.m. daily with $15 skate rentals, surrounding lounges, fire pits and danceable tunes. Long before it opened for skiing and snowboarding, McCoy Park served as a peaceful, high-mountain hub for Nordic skiing and snowshoeing. The Nordic Center offers lessons and trails for every level.

Restaurants and bars

In the village, on the more casual end of the spectrum, The Dusty Boot has a broad selection of soups, salads, burgers and a  thoughtful beer selection. Although the Boot doesn’t take reservations, it’s typically not too long of a wait for a weekend dinner if you go before 6 or after 7:30 p.m. With an impressive (and impressively fresh) array of seafood and preparation options, Hooked is a treat for lunch, dinner or a tiki-themed aprés haunt.

Oft-overlooked, The Golden Inn offers tasty and creatively prepared Western dinners (steak, elk, trout, etc.) and for an off-the-beaten-path fine-dining splurge, Splendido at the Chateau is a classy and scrumptious choice. For a quick breakfast sandwich, crepe, handmade dessert, gelato or surprisingly affordable boozy coffee, Rimini is your spot.

On-mountain cabin dinners

While many resorts have discontinued their on-mountain evening dining options, Beaver Creek’s rustic cabins are as inviting as ever. The three cabins each have distinctive characteristics and offerings, but all come with experiential dinners that begin with a journey up the mountain via snow cat-pulled sleigh.

Allie’s Cabin — named after rancher Allie Townsend, one of Beaver Creek’s first settlers — is situated a short sleigh ride up from Beaver Creek Village. Inside, tables encircle the large, wagon wheel-adorned stone hearth. Fare is northern Italian, featuring freshly made pastas, tenderloin, chops and fish.

One of Colorado’s few (and most recently designated, in 2019) AAA Four Diamond-rated restaurants, Beano’s Cabin serves exquisite five-course dinners with game, fish and vegetarian dishes. The cabin is named after Polish immigrant Frank “Beano” Bienkowski, who built a homestead here in the early 1900s and grew hay and lettuce, which he’d peddle down the mountain via wagon or huge wooden skis.

With a dizzyingly high ceiling held up by massive tree-trunk pillars and stone hearth, Zach’s Cabin offers sweeping views of Bachelor Gulch and beyond from every window. Reached via open-air snowcat departing from The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch, Zach’s is named after another early homesteader and serves award-winning European fare, including fondue and international wine selection.

Where to stay

In the name of splurging, that motto of “not exactly roughing it” does not hold any more true than at The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch, which celebrated its 20th anniversary in December. The property’s rooms and suites underwent a recent design overhaul, and as far as comfort, they are the cream of the crop. For anyone who loves easy access to uncrowded morning slopes and a state-of-the-art spa, lodging does not get better.

All guests have access to the Ritz’s outdoor hot tub and large outdoor heated pool as well as its fitness center (including yoga and pilates classes) and indoor spa. The massive spa is a true subterranean sanctuary, replete with grotto, saunas, steam rooms, cold pools and luxuriously equipped (tea bar, nuts and dried fruit) relaxation rooms. Even on a powder day, the Bachelor Express chairlift directly outside the hotel is sure to have one of the shortest first chair lines you’ll ever find. The property offers weekly activities, including a complimentary snowshoe hike, sometimes accompanied by resident St. Bernard, Bachelor.

Situated front and center at the base of the slopes, The Park Hyatt offers luxury lodging in Beaver Creek Village. With ski-in, ski-out access to the Centennial Express lift and Haymeadow gondola as well as easy access to everything in the village, the property’s rooms and suites are pristinely appointed and the outdoor heated pool and five hot tubs downright dreamy.

For a fee, guests can access the Aquas Sanitas Roman baths within the massive Exhale Spa, which offers every imaginable pampering treatment. The Park Hyatt’s dining is also worth the splurge, namely 8100 Mountainside Bar & Grill. Following a major renovation this summer, the restaurant’s outdoor patio is now a year-round oasis, with covered ceiling, heaters and fire pits that make it possible to sit comfortably and imperviously to winter temperatures. Executive chef Santosh Koradi and his impressive international team serve up unique global fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Dishes include the highest quality, certified Wagyu, scrumptious lobster salad and a lineup of creative, yummy appetizers.


Another feature that sets Beaver Creek apart from other ski resorts is its first-rate performing arts center. The Vilar Center showcases A-list musicians, comedians, symphonies and ballets year-round.

In addition to its regular winter wine excursions — a blissful mix of snowshoeing and sipping — Beaver Creek’s Winter Culinary Weekend brings sumptuous dinners, cooking demos, tastings and a snowshoe brunch Feb. 2-5. Even if you’re not a ripper who can take on 14 of the resort’s most challenging (black and double black) runs in one day, you can still enjoy the live music, food and festivities that come with the Talons Challenge, Feb. 25-26.

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