This writer examines one of the top resorts at Beaver Creek that will suit your family's needs.
Winding west from Denver, through the long and narrow Vail Valley, and a few miles north through the friendly town of Avon, we arrive at the two resort areas of Beaver Creek and Bachelor Gulch, both developments at the base of the exclusive Beaver Creek mountain. From many points, you can see the backside of sister resort Vail about 10 miles away.
If you’ve come for the skiing, you won’t be disappointed. Unlike many mountains, Beaver Creek’s beginner and intermediate slopes are concentrated around the summit. The new Family Zone at the top of the Cinch Express lift includes wonderful trails, perfect for kids as well as adult mid-range skiers. For intermediates and experts, the steps and moguls of The Talons area and the mountain’s overall lack of crowding are the biggest draws. Overall, we found the slopes very well groomed, though Beaver Creek’s two faces to the west, Arrowhead and Bachelor Gulch, were closed at our spring visit.
The gem-like Beaver Creek Village is an upscale version of the many pedestrian-only, multi-level, multi-tasking ski villages we’ve seen at Intrawest resorts, such as Mont-Tremblant and Whistler/Blackcomb. Beautifully designed, with a Euro-Swiss mountain veneer polishing purpose-built units dating from 1980, Beaver Creek is made to order for affluent families of all shapes and sizes. Pricey boutiques, snowsport rental shops, designer mountain lifestyle vendors, five-stars condos, pizza and latte cafes and a few excellent restaurants are stacked two and three high around a large, well maintained skating rink. Children above age 8 will especially enjoy the freedom it offers and with its pretty Christmas lights and lively sound track, the rink is the perfect place to expend those last ounces of energy before bedtime.
We found the atmosphere of the children’s ski and snowboard school less joyful. As solicitous as Beaver Creek is to the parent who doesn’t want the hassle of getting little ones ready for a day of snowsports, it’s surprisingly less accommodating to older children and parents who prefer to assume autonomy for these tasks. Although our 12-year-old arrived with lift tickets and a computerized reservation for a snowboard set-up (which he had done online), the ski school staff would not let us assist him or let him dress himself. Instead, after 55 minutes of waiting, our pleasure at watching him join his class dissolved into a dull pain when we realized we would miss our own lesson.
The mountain was shutting down by our Easter 2004 visit. Two on-mountain restaurants were closed, but the remaining Spruce Saddle Lodge served to highlight the generally gourmet caliber of Beaver Creek cuisine with a wide variety of foods, including a terrific salad bar, exotic and authentic Pad Thai noodle stand along with deliciously spicy Colorado-Mex cuisine.
Like most Intrawest properties, Beaver Creek is not just for winter sports. In the summer, there is a wide offering of activities with multiple means of conveyance, from hiking, to mountain biking, world-class golf to Hummer tours, horseback riding and camping. There are kids camps, cultural activities and music performances. The hills are alive with the sound of all-around fun, especially if you’re staying in the right resort for your family’s needs. Let’s take a look.
Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and Spa
Year-round lodging rims the heart of the village, but there’s none better than the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and Spa. It’s a warm and welcoming world-class hotel, superb in style and service. For example, this slopeside hotel has its own small lift to take you up a bunny hill that allows you to ski down to the mountain’s major Centennial Express Lift. If you ski back into the Hyatt domain at day’s end, a hotel Ski Valet will be there to take your gear.
The Hyatt has a large and essentially Western Rockies-style lobby, with big views of the mountain from tapestry-upholstered couches, glowing stone fireplaces, families playing board games and a welcoming lobby bar. Elegant rooms are comfortable and good-sized and, at our visit, featured free Internet access on a hotel-installed computer. Other parent-pleasing perks include a friendly and gracious staff; terrific and reasonably priced food, and a coin-operated laundry room on every floor.
The most unexpected treat is the Hyatt’s Allegria Spa. It is elegantly designed with an Asian flair, quiet and somehow comforting for children, to the extent that our 12-year-old enjoyed his very first massage under the caring hands of a young man who tolerated his squirming, ticklish response and his refusal to trade a wet bathing suit for a dry undergarment. His 25-minute massage cost us $75 but as Master Card would say, “Some things are priceless.” The large pool and a collection of hot tubs are particularly popular, tucked between this mountain resort’s warm fieldstone pool deck and the Beaver Creek slope’s icy feet.
All in all, the Park Hyatt is very family-oriented, with a kid’s camp in a pleasant mountain-view meeting room. Although only a few preschoolers were enrolled at our visit, the Park Hyatt’s program really rocks from June through September, when it’s open from 9am-10pm daily for some early hiking, mini-golf, bungee and trampoline jumping, crafts and starlight storytelling, followed by dinner and a nightly film. Camp Hyatt is priced at $13/HR plus $5 per meal for children (toilet-trained) ages 3-12 years; throughout the ski season, it’s primarily an evening program to entertain kids after they return from the Beaver Creek childcare at the mountain.
In 2004, Ryan and Trista of “The Bachelorette” won a holiday at Trapper’s Cabin on the slopes of in Beaver Creek. At 9,500-feet, it’s a romantic log getaway that rents in summer for $600/N per adult plus $500/N per child, in winter for $850-$950/N per adult plus $750/N per person after first two. Rates always includes a private chef and wait staff; book at 888/485-4317. By the way, since their happy visit, Ryan and Trista have become Vail’s “Goodwill Ambassadors” ensuring many more happy returns!
Resort Report Card
|Name:||Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort|
|Address:||50 West Thomas Place
|Seasonal Rates:||$$ – $$$|
|Choice of Activities:||A|
|Quality of Amenities:||A+|
|Bonus:||Great location, great style, great mountain.|
|Note:||Reserve as early as possible for school holidays.|
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