A couple weeks before Christmas, our Snow Happy family was lucky enough to take a mid-week getaway to Beaver Creek Resort. Not only did we get to experience the beautiful resort and amazing skiing, but Mother Nature dumped the goods on us for two straight days!! Needless to say (because what place don’t we love skiing) we had a fabulous time in both the town of Avon and at the resort.
The town of Avon, CO, sits along I-70 just past Vail, about a 2 hour drive from the Denver Metro area. I highly recommend heading up on a week day if you can to avoid traffic. And, if you’re not from here, public service announcement…Colorado has strict traction laws for vehicles traveling west on I-70. If your vehicle doesn’t have AWD or 4WD you must have chains or snow tires. For a full run-down on the rules, click here.
After an easy Wednesday drive up, we settled into the Sheraton Mountain Vista Villas. We were pleased to find excellent service and a very well-appointed hotel with all the amenities we needed for our 3 day stay. With a gym with a view, outdoor hot tub and heated pool and the skier shuttle bus right across the street, we were happy skiers! There is also a game room, but we didn’t even make it there with all the skiing and swimming and eating!
Wondering about lift tickets and passes? The kids have the free Epic SchoolKids Colorado passes with four days at every Colorado Epic Pass Resort. For the best prices, I purchased a 2 Epic Day pass this fall (no longer available, but check here for deals for this season). If you are planning ahead for next year, I highly recommend those options, but there are always ways to save. I always recommend purchasing lift tickets in advance for the best rates. If you have a friend with an Epic Pass, they offer Buddy Passes, which are significantly less than a window price. Depending on where you stay, there may be “ski and stay” packages available.
Location. Location. Location. One thing that I love about this area is that the free shuttle bus will take you pretty much anywhere you need to go. It’s such a treat to be able to park the car and leave it for a few days. The skier shuttle was a short walk across the street from our hotel and it is a 14 minute ride to the base of the mountain. The shuttle drops you at the idyllic resort entrance complete with covered bridge and fire pits.
While there is a bit of a walk to the base, Beaver Creek provides escalators to whisk you away to the slopes! That’s right, no schlepping gear up slippery stairs with kids in tow. Once at the top, you can stash your extra gear, boots, etc., in bins or ski lockers just outside the second escalator you will take up to the main base area. If you are renting gear, check out Beaver Creek Sports rentals. If you are traveling to Beaver Creek and choose not to bring your own equipment, I have also heard great things about Ski Butlers. You can reserve online and they will fit you right in your room/condo and deliver and pick up all your gear! I will definitely be checking them out the next time we fly for a ski trip.
Phew, logistics, check. Now, the good stuff…the terrain!!! First, things first…the skiing! Oh, the skiing. What a beautiful mountain and so great for families! One thing I really loved about this mountain was how clearly marked everything is, which is great when skiing a mountain for the first time and when you’re skiing with kids. We skied from the Beaver Village base because despite the snow, they were still working on getting a few of the lifts in other areas turning. Centennial Express, a gondola chair combo swept us away almost to the top of the mountain and offered plenty of blue and black runs. From there, you can also hop on the Cinch Express for a long run down to the bottom (pack snacks and water). There is a lodge mid-mountain for restroom and warm up breaks. The top to bottom skiing is some of the longest we’ve done in a loooong time and our legs were burning! We were lucky enough to be there for a huge storm that dropped at least a foot of fresh for us to enjoy. In addition to more beginner and intermediate runs, there is an extensive amount for those of us looking for glades, bumps and steeps (like super steep, I mean they do World Cup Racing here for a reason).
And, as always, for the non-skiers, there are plenty of things to see and do. Walking around the resort village is an attraction in itself. There are several art galleries to walk through and lots of boutiques and ski shops. There is also a large ice skating rink, which is beautifully lit for a festive vibe. If you enjoy snow shoeing, definitely hit up the Nordic Sports Center near the Strawberry Express Lift, offering a complete rental shop with classical, skate, telemark, Alpine Touring and snowshoe equipment rentals. Also offered are daily scheduled and private lessons and tours, and ticket sales.
Since my Snow Happy husband has been sidelined for the season (torn ACL), he perused galleries, read, hot tubbed and got a massage. I wanted to take a minute to give her a shout out. Diana Marshall was a fabulous massage therapist and just a really pleasant person to be around. She offers services in her office or will come to you. He highly recommends you give her a call if you are in the area and would like to indulge in a massage.
I would be remiss not to mention what may be my kids highlight of the trip…Cookie Time. Yes, that’s right, every day at 3:00, chefs walk around the base area near Centennial Express and pass. out. cookies. Fresh baked warm from the oven cookies. If there was ever a reason to ski somewhere!!!
Speaking of food, (huh, must be dinner time…) if you’ve followed our other resort reviews, you know we love our food. One of the ways we explore new places is finding all the amazing restaurants. Or, revisit our favorites over and over! We did a little of both on this trip.
For breakfast, we stumbled across Loaded Joe’s. They serve up a great cup of coffee and a variety of espresso drinks, have a full bar and an interesting menu. They take pride in offering socially-conscious and local food at both their Avon and Vail locations.
Wait, there’s a lunch heading??? But, you thought we always brown-bag it!! And, usually, we do, but this Snow Happy family ski trip was more of a vacation for us so we treated ourselves to lunch on the mountain! Funny how such a small thing can make something feel so luxurious. It’s the little things, right?? The first day, we had lunch at Powder 8s…those runs are LONG and I had zero plans for lunch so we ended up what we literally found in front of us (when hungry kid shredders need to fuel up, we stop dead in our tracks and make haste for food). Powder 8s is your typical lodge lunch…burgers, pizza, salads, soups, etc. My kiddos were happy with the burger and pizza and the portions were generous. I had a delicious loaded salad. If you want something quick and filling, stop here. The second day, we planned a little better and ventured across the resort to Blue Moose Pizza. It was great and reasonably priced! The three of us enjoyed a cheese pizza and Cesar salad. We left full and ready to get back out in the snow!
One of our true-blues in Avon is Blue Plate. It is in the heart of town, right off I-70 and walking distance from the Sheraton. It’s a cozy, but lively atmosphere with an eclectic menu. To top it off, the service and cocktails are outstanding! I know we’ll be back. The new restaurant we hit for dinner was Sauce on the Creek. It’s more off-the-beaten track, which is right up our alley. They offer tasty, comforting Italian fare, great happy hour specials in a casual setting. We had delicious food and pleasant service.
If you are willing to venture a bit out of town, I highly recommend a trip to Minturn. It’s about 15 minutes from Avon off I-70. Minturn is a quirky town with a lot of personality, nestled along the Eagle River. We went for the food (hmm, do you see a theme here). Dear friends of ours have family with a restaurant there and we just had to check it out! Kirby Cosmo’s BBQ is a great place to stop in for a drink, to hang out and eat some BBQ. With a laid back locals vibe and lots of Maryland memorabilia (nostalgia for us after nearly a decade in the DC area) we felt right at home. Stop on in, you won’t be disappointed!!
If you’ve never visited this mountain, I highly recommend it. We can find the joy of winter anywhere and we especially enjoyed doing so at Beaver Creek Resort! Where have you been Snow Happy lately?