Cruising the White Boulevards of Colorado
By Taylor Smith
There is more to Aspen/Snowmass, Vail, and Beaver Creek than just world class skiing. These Colorado resorts deliver it all – fine dining, distinctive nightlife, shopping, and cosmopolitan base villages. Sunny days are frequent and the snow is deep. Add to that the dramatic mountain vistas and western attitude, and it’s no wonder that these resorts are considered to be some of the best in North America.
VAIL MOUNTAIN RESORT
Heaven for advanced skiers, Vail is steep and snow covered. The main two centers are Vail Village and Lionshead. Golden Peak is near Vail Village and offers access to the mountain, a beginner ski school, and lift area. Transportation within the town of Vail is also convenient. Town of Vail buses are free and run regularly from the eastern end of Vail Village to the western end of Lions Head. ECO Transit operates a bus service between Vail, Beaver Creek, and throughout Eagle County.
Vail is located 100 miles west of Denver International Airport. The 2-hour drive from the airport is quite easy and very scenic. Après ski begins around 3 p.m. and extends well into the night.
What to Do:
The Mountain Information Center is the number one source for reservations, dining recommendations, and the best kept secrets in town. The office is located in the Arrabelle Plaza at Lionshead. There is always live music at The Red Lion, a traditional ski bar, along with Shakedown Bar, and Vail Ale House. The Vail Underground is the best dancing joint in town. Garfinkel’s has a huge deck for après ski people watching at the base of the mountain. Sarah’s Lounge is a Vail après tradition and is located in the Christiana Lodge.
Where to Eat:
Guests can find upscale dining along with Western-style barbecue and bar fare. Game Creek Restaurant is nestled just below Eagle’s Nest, at the top of the Game Creek chair lift. The five-star American cuisine is accompanied by beautiful views of the Game Creek Bowl. The 10th is a popular modern, Alpine restaurant that overlooks the dramatic Gore Range. For dining al fresco there is Talon’s Deck Outdoor Grill and Sarge’s BBQ. Both are great options on a sunny day.
BEAVER CREEK, COLORADO
Beaver Creek Ski and Snowboard School is considered the Ivy League of ski schools, perfect for beginners and inexperienced skiers. The resort has also been the recipient of the National Ski Area Association’s Best Overall Safety Award. More than many other ski resorts, Beaver Creek promotes the utmost safety through on-mountain patrolling, employee emergency training, and skier education. More than a mountain, Beaver Creek is a luxury resort that includes three villages. Guests can walk the cobble stone streets, shop at upscale retailers, and dine on freshly prepared cuisine. Be sure to accompany your meal with a fine bottle of wine to suit those alpine views.
What to Do:
Treat yourself and three guests to the ultimate vacation with Beaver Creek’s White Glove Package for the 2014/2015 season. The package includes all transportation, first-class airfare, and a private on-mountain cabin. After arriving at Vail/Beaver Creek’s Eagle Airport (EGE) a private helicopter will bring you and your friends to the Beaver Creek ski resort. Upon arrival, a Ski School Ambassador will deliver a champagne toast and lead you to Trappers Cabin. The cabin-stay includes a private chef who will prepare gourmet meals at any time of day. The package also includes four Epic Passes, apparel from Helly Hansen, and more. Book your White Glove Package by calling 877.774.6223.
What to Eat:
3 p.m. at Beaver Creek means it is cookie time at the base of the mountain. This tradition has evolved into a daily event where weary skiers are greeted with trays of piping-hot chocolate chip cookies. Guests can bring some of the mountain home with them by purchasing a gift set of chocolate chip cookies from the Beaver Creek Cookie Company.
Dine in one of the three villages or on the mountain-top itself. Many of the local chefs are inspired by the flora and fauna of Colorado, utilizing the freshest of ingredients. Steakhouses and saloons accompany wine and tapas bars. Guests will be able to choose from thin-crust pizzas, elk steaks, and seafood.
At any other place, Aspen/Snowmass would amount to four separate vacations. Snowmass, Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, and Buttermilk make up more than 5,300 acres of terrain. Not for those with a fear of heights, Snowmass boats the longest lift-served vertical rise in the United States.
What to Do:
Aspen Mountain and its blackdiamond terrain has been a favorite of serious skiers since 1947. With 3,332 acres of terrain, 94 trails, and 21 chairlifts, Snowmass also boats the most vertical feet (4,406) of any ski resort in the country. Both mountains are perfect destinations for snowboarders, as well with access to terrain parks and halfpipes. The villages at the base of each mountain offer Kids’ Adventure Centers, a wide range of dining, and festive bars.
What to Eat:
For something quick and casual, try 520 Grill, which serves up vegetarian fare, healthy burgers, and creative sandwiches. Cache Cache delivers some of the most authentic French-inspired cuisine outside of Europe. Also, the atmosphere is lively and fun. Expect to see Hollywood stars dining alongside fellow skiers.
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