The one and only U.S. stop for both the women’s and men’s World Cup races this season—Nov. 29–Dec. 1 and Dec. 6–8, respectively— and also site of the 2015 World Ski Championships, Beaver Creek has a way of making everything about its experience memorable. With escalators to carry you to and from the chairlifts and freshly baked cookies at the end of each day, the resort is famous for luxuries both large and small.
WHERE TO WATCH THE WORLD CUP ACTION
Unlike European World Cups, there are no tickets required to watch the Beaver Creek races from the Red Tail Finish Stadium, accessed by free shuttle from the Village or by snowshoes.
New for 2013, Talon’s Restaurant at the base of the Birds of Prey and Raptor courses is a fantastic place to congregate before and after the races, particularly with a homemade strawberry and rhubarb tart (placed on Talons menu to pay homage to the area’s farming history) and beer in hand. Depending on snow conditions and if you’d rather see racers fly by in a tearing flash than watch the entire race, on-mountain viewing is accessible from the top of Centennial chairlift by following Red Tail to the race course fence.
Beaver Creek World Cup course.
SEE & BE SEEN
The Black Diamond Ball is the hot social scene for the Beaver Creek World Cup, so be sure to pack a suit or cocktail dress for the Dec. 6 dinner, dancing and live music soiree at the Vail Cascade Resort and Spa.
From international luxury giants like The Ritz-Carlton at Bachelor Gulch and The Westin Riverfront Resort and Spa to decorated condominiums and private on-mountain chalets, Beaver Creek offers every possible option for high-end accommodation. But since the World Cup falls in the early season, the best bets for ski-in, ski-out convenience and lavish amenities include the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and Spa and The Osprey at Beaver Creek.
Located at the base area and a short walk from Centennial Chairlift, the Park Hyatt offers exquisite dining with its award-winning 1800 restaurant. The ultimate spot for relaxation, its Allegria Spa has hot stone massages, facials and a long list of full-service pampering. For families, the hotel’s daily S’mores Happy Hour lays out complimentary gourmet marshmallows (mint, Grand Marnier, vanilla, toffee and M & M), fine chocolate and graham crackers set up a for roasting at the outdoor fire pits.
For a boutique experience, the cozy but classy Osprey is located steps away from the Strawberry Park Express lift and across the skier bridge from Centennial lift. With just 45 guest rooms, beds and bathrooms are plush and oversized, and the outdoor heated pool and hot tub are glorious under the starry night sky. The Osprey Lounge’s breakfast, lunch and dinner items feature the freshest ingredients (even in December), and the staff is continuously noted for taking care of your every wish, from whisking your skis out of your hands for safe keeping in a locker to having your once wet boots dried, warmed and waiting for you every morning.
For a boutique experience, the cozy but classy Osprey is located steps away from the Strawberry Park Express lift.
Copyright: Scott Dressel
From sushi to perfectly al dente homemade pasta (not easy at over 8,000 feet), Beaver Creek’s dining options are plentiful. But if you want to dig into dishes that feature a piece of the land—namely fresh Colorado game—there are a few choice options, the No. 1 being Grouse Mountain Grill.
Located off the beaten path in spectacularly scenic Pines Lodge, Grouse is repeatedly ranked by visitors and locals alike as the best fine dining in the valley. The Grilled Elk Loins are so tender they melt in your mouth, the popping flavor of the Braised Colorado Lamb Shank will widen your eyes and the Duck Three Ways is pure butter.
Another favorite for Colorado-grown goodness is Beano’s Cabin. Located on the mountain, the experience begins with a sleigh ride under a blanket followed by fresh oysters, fried rabbit and a nightcap by the fire.
One of the oldest but most revered restaurants among the international World Cup crowd is the Golden Eagle Inn. Smack in the middle of Beaver Creek Village, Golden Eagle is decidedly casual, but its creative dishes, from almond-encrusted fresh trout to splendidly seasoned Elk Meatloaf will wake up your palate and won’t leave it wanting. Gourmet as they are, portions are large at the Golden Eagle.
Grouse Mountain Grill duck, like butter.
Copyright: Grouse Mountain Grill
Even as neighboring Vail was becoming an instant hot spot 50 years ago, the slopes of Beaver Creek were still occupied by lettuce and rhubarb farms. Before Denver became the only host city in history to reject the Winter Olympics in 1976, plans had been made to develop Beaver Creek for the Olympic downhill race. Sadly, state funding for the Olympics ceased and the Games were moved to Innsbruck, but Beaver Creek was still a go. It first opened its slopes with six chairlifts and 28 runs in 1980 and was immediately recognized as one of the most upscale resorts ever developed.
The Beav, as it’s known among locals, was home to former U.S. President and First Lady Gerald and Betty Ford and regularly hosts a number of U.S. celebrities, politicians and athletes. The resort expanded quickly and hosted its first World Ski Championships in 1989.
As development of the terrain continued, the famous Birds of Prey downhill course was built, and Beaver Creek became a regular host for the World Cup men’s races. In 1997, Italy’s Kristian Ghedina was the first to conquer the downhill and over the years, top racers from every country have come to regard the venue: its downhill and super G replete with massive jumps and sudden turns and the giant slalom one of the longest and highest on the tour, among the most challenging stops on the World Cup.
Hermann Maier found his way to the top of the podium several times, beginning with a gold medal in the 1999 World Championship downhill, while Bode Miller and Aksel Lund Svindal have also starred in many dramatic World Cup finishes here, Svindal naming the course among his favorites in spite of sustaining a terrible crash on the Birds of Prey in 2007. The Beaver Creek super G has historically yielded surprise winners and in recent years, to the utter joy of the hometown crowd, American Ted Ligety has dominated the GS.
These days, the resort boasts 25 chairlifts and 150 trails, including sections of the brand new women’s World Cup and World Championship Raptor course.