By Helen Olsson By Helen Olsson | December 20, 2022 | Food & Drink Guide Travel Food & Drink Holiday Shop Outdoor Drink Hotel Ski
A WINTER FORAY TO BEAVER CREEK IS A REFINED AFFAIR WITH SOPHISTICATED TOUCHES—ON THE SLOPES AND OFF.
Beaver Creek’s village is full of wonder, from giant snow globes to oversize goggles. PHOTO COURTESY OF VAIL RESORTS
Powder skiing in the aspens at Beaver Creek. PHOTO COURTESY OF VAIL RESORTS
WITH GIANT SNOWFLAKES FLOATING from the night sky and twinkling white lights threaded overhead, the village feels like a giant snow globe, recently shaken—and we’re inside. We’ve come to Beaver Creek (beavercreek.com) for a ski weekend, and it’s dumping. Anchored by an ice rink, the village is literally filled with wonder. Giant glowing “frost flowers” and a larger-than-life pair of goggles are a few of the oversized art pieces in an installation titled Beaver Creek Wonder. They are interactive and instagrammable. Skaters scribe arcs around the rink, while sculptures of skaters in bronze stand sentinel nearby.
Fashioned is presented tableside, with cedar-smoked 10-year-old rye whiskey from WhistlePig. PHOTO COURTESY OF VAIL RESORTS
The pedestrian village is dotted with cozy seating vignettes with fire pits and heat lamps. The snow is already piling up on the seat cushions, so we head to Citrea for modern interpretations of Mediterranean cuisine. Over cocktails, we scroll on our phones through snow reports and on-mountain cams. Predictions are for a foot of snow to drop overnight, and that too would be magical. We protein load with a dry-aged bone-in ribeye followed by a delightful salted butterscotch budino.
Zach’s Cabin is a culinary midmountain adventure. PHOTO COURTESY OF VAIL RESORTS
In the morning, further fueled on avocado toast, bacon and bottomless cups of coffee at Grouse Mountain Grill at The Pines, we head for the hills. All day, we make laps in deep untracked snow in Larkspur Bowl and on Birds of Prey, site of the annual men’s World Cup Super G and downhill races. Ordinarily, the Birds of Prey surface is marble-hard and race-ready, but today, it’s all soft and creamy. Because Beaver Creek never gets terribly crowded, it’s heaven on a powder day. “I can’t believe it’s still untracked,” my husband, Jeff, says after our third lap in Larkspur. It was as if all that fluff was just for us.
Citrea serves up Mediterranean fare. PHOTO COURTESY OF VAIL RESORTS
Beaver Creek lives up to its tony reputation. On the mountain, giant log ranch-style entryways with corbels handcut from beetle-kill trees let us know what zones we’re dropping into. On-mountain structures, from the lift shacks to the charming candy cabin, are a chink-style log architecture that gives the whole mountain an elevated aesthetic. “It’s all about place-making and continuity of design,” says Rachel Levitsky, the resort’s communications manager.
McCoy Park is Beaver Creek’s newest terrain. PHOTO COURTESY OF VAIL RESORTS
According to my EpicMix app, we logged 26,631 feet for the day. Surely we burned enough calories for another fabulous dinner? Beaver Creek is known for its experiential dining with three luxury on-mountain cabins—Beano’s, Zach’s and Allie’s. Our destination: Zach’s. We settle amid heavy timbers in The Great Room at The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch, sipping an Italian pinot grigio until our snowcat-drawn sleigh arrives (the steep ascent to the cabin would be a challenge for the strongest of draft horses). We rumble uphill, tucked under blankets in the open-air sleigh, a sliver of moon overhead and a light spray of snow dusting our cheeks.
Cookie time at the base is an institution. PHOTO COURTESY OF VAIL RESORTS
At Zach’s, we walk across the snow on a red carpet lined with luminaria. Inside, we’re seated near a grand floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace surrounded by antler chandeliers. Dinner is a multicourse affair, starting out with a horseradish-cured salmon set over potato rosti and topped with caviar. Dinner of beer-braised bison short ribs and cedar-roasted trout stretches over a luxurious three hours. We cap off the meal with bites of poached apple strudel.
The next morning, we meet ski instructor Vassil Djambazov, our guide for the day. While Beaver Creek is known for its high-touch guest service and meticulously groomed corduroy, we ask Djambazov, who came to Beaver Creek by way of Bulgaria, to take us to the steepest terrain on the map.
We warm up in Rose Bowl, high on the mountain, following behind Djambazov, whose form is flawless. Next, we drop into Stone Creek Chutes, a series of short vertiginous pitches on the edge of the resort’s boundary. We make our way across the mountain, following Djambazov into hidden groves of aspen, to Grouse Mountain. At the top, we head for the glades, but a handwritten sign turns us back. “Due to very aggressive moose on the runout, Royal Elk is closed.” As manicured as Beaver Creek can be, it has a delightfully rugged side.
In the afternoon, Djambazov gives us a tour of McCoy Park, 250 gentle acres that opened in 2021-22. While novice skiers are often relegated to low-elevation, base-area terrain, McCoy Park is set in a pretty high-alpine bowl with panoramic views, approachable glades, terrain that’s undulating without being intimidating and a pitch that’s perfect for beginners, intermediates and families.
Djambazov delivers us back to the base by 3pm, when chefs in white hats walk by with giant silver platters of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. The experience is quintessential Beaver Creek, the recipe a heavily guarded secret.
Nestled in a stand of aspen and pine, The Pines Lodge, A RockResort (beavercreek.com/lodging) feels secluded. The hotel is ski-in, though not quite ski-out. In the morning, the path to the slopes is a slight uphill that requires a certain amount of shuffling. The five-story, 60-room hotel has an Alpine-style facade, Tyrolean decor and a rustic intimate ambiance. Located in the heart of Beaver Creek, Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and Spa (hyatt.com) is a 190-room ski-in, ski-out chateau-style property complete with ski valet and Gorsuch ski rental shop. It’s steps from the village’s shops, restaurants and galleries.
The cuisine has been refreshed at Beaver Creek’s three on-mountain white-tablecloth cabins (beavercreek.com/dining). At Allie’s Cabin, executive chef Jonathan Alonso focuses on northern Italian fare, while the menu at Beano’s Cabin, a log hideaway situated in a meadow at the base of Larkspur Bowl, leans to modern Colorado. Executive chef Alex Slagle developed a menu with an Alsatian regional focus at Zach’s Cabin, perched high above Bachelor Gulch. Look for hearty plates like pork schnitzel and potato dumplings. It’s the kind of place you’ll witness someone dropping a knee to propose (we did). In Beaver Creek Village, Citrea (beavercreek.com/dining) opened in 2021 with dishes like lamb osso buco and shrimp carbonara. Inside The Pines, Grouse Mountain Grill (grousemountaingrill.com) offers local farm-to-table food in a scratch kitchen.
With floor-to-ceiling views of the ski slopes, the Brass Bear Bar inside the Park Hyatt (hyatt.com) is the perfect après-ski hub. Skiers in knit beanies with oversized fur poms flutter around the big square bar, sipping prosecco under a chandelier with 175 hanging pendants that are reminiscent of falling ice crystals. At happy hour, revelers spill onto the deck, gathering around the largest outdoor fire pit in the valley. Rimini (theriminicafe.com) makes a dreamy hot chocolate with real cocoa, cream, milk, Nielsen-Massey vanilla and other secret spices.
You could easily visit Beaver Creek and do nothing but shop. Find bling at Maya Walker Jewels (mayawalkerjewels.com), which has a Robert Coin boutique inside. Eye Pieces (myeyepieces.com) carries luxury sunglasses from Chrome Hearts, handmade in Hollywood from precious metals like gold and sterling silver. Base Mountain Sports (basemountainsports.com) carries high-end brands like Goldbergh, Bogner, J. Lindeberg and Skea.
This season will be the 25th anniversary for the Vilar Performing Arts Center Beaver Creek (vilarpac.org), which hosts performances in classical and contemporary music, dance, comedy and more. Become a patron of the arts here to get access to the swanky May Gallery, a lounge area off the lobby with a marble-topped bar for pre-show cocktails.
An indulgent preamble to a treatment at Park Hyatt’s 30,000-square-foot Exhale Spa (exhalespa.com) is the Aqua Sanitas Water Sanctuary. With a series of steam rooms, soaking tubs, rain showers and tepidarium, the space evokes the Roman bath experience.