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Home / Articles / Adventure / Adventure /  Leave It To Beaver
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Thursday, March 24,2011

Leave It To Beaver

By Isaac Woods Stokes
Beaver Creek has proven for 30 years just how good a ski vacation can be, whether you’re a head of state or the head of a household. With heads of state fewer each day, let’s examine this gem from the average Boulderite’s perspective.

“Not exactly roughing it” is the spot-on slogan — nope, not exactly. BC gets gold stars for service at every turn. The bus drivers flash the pearly whites, the lifties exude a Deepak Choprah level of contentment, and the ski instructors radiate a level of professionalism on par with your average thoracic surgeon. The art of skiing is taken seriously at Beaver Creek, and the culture is customer service. Upon debarking the famed escalators, I noticed a grinning ambassador with a nametag displaying hometown “Maui.” She was smiling broadly under a Colorado bluebird sky. Enough said?

Speeding past the 50 snapping national flags that line the entry road, I marveled for the umpteenth time how fortunate my family is to be able to drive two hours to a resort that pulls in visitors from around the globe. Better yet, after nearly a decade of exploring the mountain, I’m still finding new terrain, from the wrinkled black diamond vastness of Royal Elk Glades to the simple intimate old school appeal of Arrowhead. Experts can attack the Birds of Prey World Cup course that Bode and crew tangle with every December, selected as site of the 2015 Alpine World Championships — check out how high the safety net poles are for a sense of the velocities achieved — as well as the 24,000 vertical feet and 13 runs of the Talons Challenge. Corduroy aficionados are served daily grooming reports and buffed acres of grooved schussing, and if there is a lift system in Colorado that gets you more vert in a hurry, I’m not aware of it — and I am so aware of this important issue.

For beginners and never-evers, the ski school, described by SKI magazine as “the Ivy League of Ski Schools,” is staffed by more than 500 instructors. Despite my fears that it might take the concerted efforts of several hundred of them to get my 4-year-old son to “pizza pie” turn (snowplow), another smiling 20-something named Kersten was able to motivate him to safely get with the program in a half day. I even saw a little of the fabled “French fries” (parallel). And whoever dreamed up a dedicated kid’s gondola to the ever-popular Haymaker tubing hill, with parents able to enjoy food/drinks while “supervising” from The Ranch lodge, should be sainted. The family program is rounded out by glow-stick night parades with fireworks, on-hill story times, ice skating, disco nights, rail jams, family snowshoe tours and, most vitally to the kid sugar-centric world view — fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies at every turn.

Culture vultures are also looked after at Beaver Creek, with events at Vilar Center year-round, including upcoming shows from Sheryl Crow, Keb’ Mo’ and Peter Frampton. For retail therapy in the village, you now have Boulder fav Patagonia, multiple spas and several galleries. Foodies will be wowed by the events, such as the annual MasterChef Classic presented by Bon Appétit Magazine, reserve steaks at Mamie’s, tapas at the Osprey Lounge, and the popular $9.95 Lunch for Less deal at Spruce Saddle Lodge.

For an incredible treat, consider dining at Zach’s Cabin, a Wine Spectator award-winner five years running, with all-world menu items such as chili-encrusted elk tenderloin and grilled lobster with lemon truffle butter. Yum. Zach’s is also tres child friendly, with a self-serve kids hot station, vital when you have little ones to feed posthaste. The mountaintop location in a pristine aspen grove is accessed via sleigh ride, and the night we visited coincided with the recent brilliant supermoon. The shining stars and snow covered pines are not something our family will forget soon.

The day we left we shared a chair with a couple of fairly giddy older gentlemen from Long Island, thrilled to be on vacation in Colorado. As we chatted, they summed the joy of it all up in a sentence: “You don’t stop skiing because you get old. You get old because you stop skiing.” Check out www.beavercreek.com for details the resort, spring events and deals and more.

Accommodations

The recently opened Westin Beaver Creek is the place to stay at the resort. Linked by its own dedicated gondola to BC, the AAA Four Diamond resort was named “Top Resort, Mainland U.S.” by Conde Nast for 2010, and each of the 230 units features gorgeous custom kitchens, five-piece bathrooms and cozy gas fireplaces. The location on the Eagle River affords spectacular views of the mountain, and the riverside hot tubs and swimming pool ought to be a destination by themselves. Addictive. The resort is the only Silver LEED-certified resort in Colorado, and Spa Anjali offers a full range of treatments and therapies rooted in mountain healing traditions — fantastic aprs ski. The Westin was also awarded “10 Best” from Parents magazine, and from the moment we stepped into the elegant soaring lobby, our clan was treated as family by the attentive staff.

The onsite Avondale restaurant is not to be missed, with signature cocktails such as the rosemary-infused Purkisset, a house-made charcuterie board complete with foie gras sausage and entrees such as chorizo-crusted Chatham cod. The resort is running a special through May 31 with rooms starting at $119. www.westinriverfrontbeavercreek. com.

Respond: letters@boulderweekly.com

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