I love to ski. The wind in my hair, the brisk air keeping me moving, the mountain views… Assuming Beaver Creek would be no different than the previous multitude of ski trips I’ve taken to Colorado, off I went.
My friend and I decided on staying at the Westin Beaver Creek, a beautiful slope side hotel with a personal gondola in the hotel’s lobby. The live band and free, warm chocolate chip cookies in the lobby after a long day of skiing didn’t hurt either. So off we went–prepared to venture into the MLK Weekend madness of the Colorado Ski World. Except we soon learned that nobody was at Beaver Creek. The mountain was virtually empty. Had we just picked a part of the mountain that people hadn’t gotten to yet? Was everyone still asleep? Not at all. Rather, we soon learned that Beaver Creek is the hidden gem of Summit County. Nobody ventures past Vail! Imagine skiing through fresh powder at noon, having zero lift lines and enjoying that well deserved Bloody Mary without hundreds of screaming ski school kids around you. This was our reality. And it was awesome.
The villages of Beaver Creek are no different. Although securing a reservation 24 hours in advance is a necessity, it is only due to the low number of restaurants in the area. After trying our hotel’s Mexican restaurant, Maya, and the Hyatt’s 8100 Mountain Bar and Grill, my friend and I made our way to the infamous Zach’s Cabin. And we weren’t disappointed. Venturing up to Bachelor Gulch, we found the rustic yet glamorous Ritz Carlton, its lumbered walls adorned in local Coloradan artisan artwork and shops containing this season’s latest fur clothing. Once we had made it to the back of the property, we hopped on a Snowcat-drawn sleigh, were given winter parkas to keep us warm and under the starry Colorado night, up the mountain we went. Upon entering the restaurant, we were given slippers and a locker room for our coats. The decor in the restaurant was stunning–buffalo plaid lounge chairs, tree branch chandeliers and a well-centered fireplace to tie the room together. The Chili-Rubbed Colorado Elk Tenderloin and the Apple Pie Cocktail I washed it down with certainly didn’t disappoint and was most definitely one of the highlights of my entire trip.
We did make it into Vail for two days and although I often complain about the crowds of gapers that swarm the slopes during MLK Weekend, Vail never seems to let me down. From the first time skiers that pizza their way down to the lightning old timers that carve past everyone, there’s something on the mountain for everyone. So grab your fattest powder skis, your brightest neon coat and the latest GoPro and head out west. And remember, if you french fry when you’re supposed to pizza, you’re going to have a bad time!