News from the snow
Beaver Creek USA
Beaver Creek is a fascinating resort in the evolution of the global ski industry. It has many claims to fame, perhaps most notably that, having opened as recently as 1980, it's one of the 'youngest' of the world's great ski areas. As a result of its modern evolution it is also sometimes described as being "the first resort to be designed by computer" (and if so, it's a good argument in favour of computers!). The most interesting fact is that Beaver Creek, which was built by Vail, 18km (11 miles) away to the east, to be "America's most elegant resort", is located in the territory which Vail's founders had chosen as first choice for Vail itself. However, back then in the 1950s, the rancher who owned the land was happy with his lot and didn't want to sell. It was 16 years later, in 1972, that Vail, by then one of North America's leading resorts, succeeded in purchasing the land where Beaver Creek now sits. Work began in 1977 and, since the resort's opening, it has become the epitome of the general popular perception of high class, high taste lodging, dining and other facilities with an exceptionally well designed resort and lift system. Direct access to the slopes is made easy with covered escalators leading from the village to the base of the Centennial Express Lift, another unique asset. Naturally, pricing reflects this luxury although, as with all ski resorts branded particularly expensive, you can find affordable prices and packages if you're prepared to travel off-peak. In conjunction with Vail, Beaver Creek has hosted the Alpine World Championships twice in its short history, most recently in 1999, another unique achievement. The 'Birds of Prey' downhill course constructed for the event has quickly established itself as the toughest downhill in North America and on a par with the classic Alpine world cup runs, generally perceived as tougher than anything North America could offer prior to this new run opening. 'Birds of Prey' is now considered one of the top three downhills in the world. Beaver Creek also claims to offer 'European style village to village skiing' - a rare phenomena in North America where only Stowe and Smugglers Notch in Vermont are as yet linked together by ski lifts, although others could if they chose to be. In Beaver Creek's case the 'villages' it is linked to have had to be built from scratch by Vail, just like Beaver Creek. Arrowhead and Bachelor Gulch are currently the focus of new building development and look set to become even more up- market than Beaver Creek, Bachelor Gulch being described as "a private residential resort community" by planners. Development of Beaver Creek resort was officially declared 'complete' in February 1998.
Built by Vail Resorts,16km (10 miles) away to the East, to be "America's most elegant resort". They have a joint lift ticket which also includes Breckenridge and Keystone. The World Alpine Championships were held here in '89 and '99 and a Men's Downhill World Cup race is staged here each December..
Beginners have special learning areas. Beaver Creek was designed upside down, with beginner trails at the top of the mountain so they can enjoy the same view, and the resort's 400 teachers, part of the 1300+ instructor army of Vail Resorts, are capable of offering virtually every kind of tuition imaginable with an incredible 30 different languages available.
The steepest terrain is on Grouse Mountain where the double black diamond runs are as steep and as demanding as you could want and there's the already famous Birds of Prey run down the west side of Beaver Creek mountain. There are black and double black diamond trails dotted around most of the rest of the terrain including the long thresher Gladed and the short chutes in Larkspur Bowl. Additional double black diamond graded steep terrain opened for the 2006-7 season, adding the exciting Stone Creek Chutes just above Rose Bowl.
Beaver Creek has one of North America's few cross country skiing centres, and of course they have made an exceptionally good job of it, located at a snowsure altitude at the top of Bachelor Gulch
(9840 feet) where there are 32km (20 miles) of trails for all ability levels.
The nursery Haymeadow eight-person gondola - the Buckaroo Gondola - has been designed specifically for the children's ski school.
In addition, a new Gondola, the Riverfront Express, was opened in 2007. this is located in Avon next to the Westin Hotel which is due to open for the 2008/2009 season.
New for the 2008/2009 season get the Epic Pass. This provides unlimited skiing in Vail, Breckenridge Beaver Creek and Heavenly for $579. http://snow.com/epicpass/
At the other extreme a popular option is to take a moonlit sleighride to Beano's Cabin, a recipient of Triple A Four Diamond Award, the DiRona Award, and the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. Nestled among the aspen trees at the base of Larkspur Bowl on Beaver Creek Mountain, Beano's has spectacular views of Grouse Mountain. Guests meet the sleighs at the Beaver Creek Chop House, located at the top of the escalators on the south end of the plaza. Zach's Cabin is another on mountain dining option located at the top of Bachelor Gulch. It is accessed by snowcat from the Ritz Carlton. The Coyote Café specializes in Mexican food, but the menu also includes burgers, sandwiches, salads and children's favourites whilst Cresendo serves fresh coffee and cappuccino, pastries, soup, sandwiches and specialty pizzas until early evening.
The Golden Eagle features a menu of innovative American cuisine in a Colorado country setting. House specialities include loin of elk, rack of lamb, roast duckling, and many other selections of fresh fish, pasta and beef. The Grouse Mountain Grill serves progressive American cuisine in an elegant alpine setting.
Legends is the place for fine Colorado regional cuisine and famous desserts Mirabelle offers innovative French cuisine served in a beautifully restored farmhouse located across from the east welcome gate and Patina is a full-service slopeside restaurant featuring Colorado southwestern fayre with a Pacific Rim influence. SaddleRidge is nestled on the eastern hillside of Beaver Creek Resort. It boasts the largest collection of Western artifacts outside a museum in the United States, highlighting items such as Buffalo Bill's desk, Annie Oakley's and General Custer's parade hat and cantina, along with original photographs by Edward Curtis and Roland Reed. The chef specializes in wild game and seafood dishes and the restaurant boasts an extensive wine list.
For upbeat Italian dining Toscanini's prepare their individual pizzas, fresh pastas, and rotisserie roasted meats in the open display kitchen, and there's an extensive children's menu. Splendido has arguably the finest dining in the Vail Valley.
If you want to spend some money, if not as much as at most establishments, then the Coyote Café was the first bar to open in the resort and remains the locals' favourite, with a variety of beer and famed for their Margaritas and other specials. McCoy's Cafe and Bar, located in Village Hall, is another good place to eat, drink and dance to live après-ski entertainment.
The trees at Beaver Creek Mountain are full of natural glades and gullies, misty lines and untracked powder stashes. Keep your eyes peeled also for The Snowboard Courtesy Patrol, a group of volunteers from the local community who are giving their time to help out on Vail and Beaver Creek mountains. They are all on snowboards, in the parks and at the pipes, assisting riders whenever possible.
Off the slopes you can find the dedicated Edgewise Snowboard Shop stocking snowboard outerwear and contemporary clothing and located at the bottom of the Beaver Creek Escalators. Snowell Rentals has adult and children's snowboard rentals available. Full integration with Vail's boarding means that riders can discover the secret spots that only the locals know at both areas.
Guides from the Vail Snowboard School provides coaching as you explore Vail Mountain. Free 'Quick Tips' are also offered at 11 am, daily to help you dial into riding with effortless style, you need to check into the Snowboard School desk at Mid-Vail. The UnVailed event at the close of each season is one of world boarding's premier end-of-the-season bashes. The event featuring many of the world's top boarders includes the unique UnVailed Half-Park, which is no ordinary one-dimensional half-pipe. The Half-Park combines elements of a traditional snowboard park, such as tabletops and transfers, with big-air jumps strategically placed in the middle of a steep double barrel half-pipe.