Beaver Creek, Colorado
Beaver Creek is one of the top luxury resorts in the country. It has everything you need for a top-notch vacation, and it doesn’t have to empty your bank account—but it can if you’re not careful.
Beaver Creek has grown up to become a complete mountain resort, celebrating its 25th anniversary in December of 2005. What started out as a series of seemingly random hotels and condominiums has been knit together with a series of walkways and trails to three inter-connected villages to create European-style village-to-village skiing. The chi-chi Ritz-Carlton anchors Bachelor Gulch Village mid-mountain and Arrowhead Village flanks the main village to the west. Beaver Creek now has a real soul and can rightfully take its place as one of the top luxury resorts in the country.
The central complex at Beaver Creek Village is pedestrian-only—with snow-free walkways—and shops and restaurants are scattered throughout. The Vilar Center for the Arts features top entertainment and forms the focus of the development along with the outdoor ice rink as the centerpiece. Four sets of covered escalators whisk skiers and snowboarders from the shuttle drop-off point to the Centennial Express lift. Attention to Beaver Creek’s award-winning customer service includes warm chocolate-chip cookies handed out at day’s end, collector postcards to be mailed free of charge anywhere in the world and "Great-and-Seat" western characters who help find hungry skiers a table for lunch. More upscale than big sister Vail, the Beaver Creek experience is carefully scripted to appeal to the A-list guests and wannabes it draws. Surprisingly, some of the regular resort amenities like ice skating, apres-ski and some dining are very affordable.One huge activity that’s even free is viewing World Cup races that take place around the first week in December. Not only can you watch the world’s top racers in action on the renowned Birds of Prey downhill course, you also can absorb the international flavor of the post-race merriment in the village. It’s a great time to be in Beaver Creek, though lift lines can be longer than usual.
Those with a taste for being pampered are plopped squarely in the lap of luxury—at a price. Beaver Creek’s unofficial motto used to be, "If you aren’t worth a million dollars, don’t even bother coming here." That pretentiousness is wearing off as the resort comes of age, but evidence of its ambitious youth remains. No one will ask for a copy of last year’s tax return to verify your earnings, of course. Yet it’s clear that this isn’t a place for penny-pinchers, or even the budget-conscious. The art galleries, gift shops and outfitters feature prices that are fitting for visitors with six-figure incomes.
Beaver Creek is nowhere near the celebrity magnet that Aspen and Vail are. It attracts much the same type of visitor as Deer Valley in Utah: The Fortune 500 crowd is right at home here and many of the condominiums are corporate-owned. The corporate owners have worked hard to create an exclusive air, with prices as upscale as its visitors. If you can afford it, the experience is enjoyable with all the bells and whistles.
But you don’t have to go broke to truly enjoy the Beaver Creek experience. Just don’t stay in the village. Staying in a nearby town such as Avon, with a good shuttle system plus a lift in Beaver Creek Landing, makes this a resort for Everyman. Visitors can ski or snowboard between Beaver Creek, Arrowhead and Bachelor Gulch. A ski-way connects Bachelor Gulch back to Beaver Creek Landing near the parking lots at the base of the resort. Complimentary shuttles also make the loop, but not as frequently as you might like. For the 07/08 season, people staying outside the village will be able to ride a gondola that will run between the town of Avon and Beaver Creek Landing, eliminating the shuttle ride altogether.
Beaver Creek installed two high-speed quads that reduce traffic going up the mountain road as well as lines at the base area lifts. The entrance at Beaver Creek Landing near Avon allows skiers and riders of at least advanced-beginner ability to load a lift that takes them to an upper lift in the Bachelor Gulch area and from there access the main mountain. New in 2005/06, a high-speed quad replaced the triple chair in Larkspur Bowl.
All the lifts of Vail Resorts, which owns Beaver Creek, Vail, Breckenridge, Keystone and California’s Heavenly, are now run 100 percent on wind power. The company began buying this renewable energy source in summer of 2006 for all its resorts, retail and lodging properties. This move made them the second largest purchaser of wind power in the U.S.