When it comes to a family ski getaway in the lap of luxury, Beaver Creek is the place to be. As a sister resort to Vail, just up the road and on the same lift pass, Beaver Creek takes it up a notch. Slopes are groomed to perfection, heated pavements melt snow for easy walking and there is even an escalator so you don’t get tired in your ski boots. This resort is a perfect place to visit with children, as accommodation, shops and restaurants are all close by in a traffic-free village, with more cabins and lodges tucked away discreetly in the trees. While the resort is smooth and comfy, the skiing doesn’t pull any punches featuring demanding terrain as well as runs for beginners.
Skiing is on several peaks with the main one, Beaver Creek Mountain reaching 11,440 ft, featuring the Birds of Prey men’s World Cup downhill course — although there are beginner routes down too. Grouse Mountain is renowned for its fun black diamond runs. Buckaroo Bowl, on one side of the resort village, and the more extensive Bachelor Gulch Mountain, on the other, give a vast array of beginner and intermediate terrain that’s glorious no matter how good a skier you are. The skiing here goes down to Bachelor Gulch, where the Ritz-Carlton and its fire pits make a great spot for a hot chocolate, and to the little purpose-built village of Arrowhead, both pleasing runs for the whole family. There are three terrain parks: Park 101 for beginners, the all-round Zoom Room and the freestyle Rodeo with jumps of up to 60 feet.
The resort village is small but perfectly laid out, although many families might find the condos so nice they don’t want to head out. There’s a lift connection from the little town of Avon below the resort, where lodging is more affordable. There’s skating on the village ice rink, family shows at the Vilar Performing Arts Centre and regular family evening entertainment. The elite White Glove set-up gives access to the White Carpet Club, a warm and wonderful slope side retreat, and other treats including mountaintop family dinners at rustic Allie’s Cabin.
Beaver Creek boasts the ‘Ivy League of Ski Schools,’ and youngsters even have their own version of a country club on the hill at the top of the Buckaroo Express lift. The slopes of Buckaroo Bowl, a collection of green and blue slopes off to the side from the main base area, are designed to steer the little ones into correct body movements, after which they can relax with the finest of children’s cuisine.
Beaver Creek features plenty of children’s lesson options, including Ski Girls Rock, an all-girl ski school created by racer Lindsey Vonn that aims to not only teach but also empower by bonding and teamwork. Childcare is big here, either full- or half-day, with an infant room keeping babies happy, the toddler room keeping young ones entertained and stimulated, and the preschool room offering crafts, toys, and even a gondola ride.
There are shuttle links with Denver International Airport, around 90 minutes away, and downtown with its Amtrak-served Union Station. Vail/Eagle airport nearby has connections with a number of cities. The resort has all amenities on site and local buses connect with Vail, but you’ll need a car to visit and ski Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin, all on the same Epic lift pass. The resorts are a scenic drive along I-70, where there are non-ski stops in the towns of Dillon and Silverthorne (the latter with a good selection of outlet stores) and, in the other direction, the town and hot springs of Glenwood Springs.
Nick Dalton, a U.K.-based travel writer for newspapers, such as The Times, has visited nearly 90 U.S. ski resorts (and another 20 or so in Canada). When not skiing he's also an expert on cruises, and his children, Georgia and Henry.