Back from Beaver Creek. We ended up staying in a three-bedroom condo down in Avon which cost the same as, or less than, one hotel room up in the village. Nonetheless, transportation turned out to be such a hassle that, if I had to do it again, I would probably stay up in the village.
A bus came by the bus stop, 100 yards from our condo, every half hour. On a ski trip with kids, there always seems to be a glove or lift pass missing at the last minute, so we always seemed to be racing for the bus. Several times we thought we were on time, but apparently weren’t - or maybe the bus came two or three minutes early, and we ended up having to wait another half hour. We were there during the recent cold-snap, with highs in the single digits and lows way below zero, so this meant not only waiting, but feeling your toes getting numb. From the in-town bus, you have to transfer to another bus that takes you to the lifts. This bus was never waiting at the transfer point, so we had to wait again. All in all, it invariably took well over an hour from leaving our front door till we were stepping off the final bus at the lifts, a mile or two away. If we weren’t carrying skis and snowboards, we could easily have walked in less time. Meanwhile, our friends who were staying in Beaver Creek village would call us from time to time to let us know that they were having a great time, and that they would be taking another run or two, and would check back with us soon to find out if our bus had arrived. Great.
But enough complaining. Let’s talk about what I liked:
First of all, the condo itself was great. It was in the Canyon Run complex. Sometimes when you stay in a place decorated by others, you have to deal with either cheap cooking utensils, weird colors, or something that’s not quite the way you feel it should be. This place had a great view of the river, was tastefully and comfortably decorated, the kitchen gadgets seemed more Williams Sonoma than Target, and it was properly stocked with such things as new flat-screen TVs and a humidifier which was built into the heating unit. For the first time on a ski vacation, my wife didn’t complain of dry skin. The condo is 200 yards from a Starbucks, a Burger King, and a very yummy little bakery, and a 10-15 minute walk from most other things in Avon. http://www.vrbo.com/84540
The mountain was great too. We had originally planned to alternate days in Beaver Creek and Vail, but we somehow lost our car key, and consequently didn’t make it to Vail until we had skied BC for four days in a row. No problem - we never got bored with the mountain. There was always something new to discover, like Thresher Glade off the Strawberry chair. The mountain is laid out in a way that makes it easy to stay in the sun - important on cold days such as we had. Ski under the Strawberry and Larkspur chairs in the morning, Grousse Mountain, Centennial, and Cinch chairs mid-day, and Birds of Prey and Arrowhead in the afternoon.
Dinner: we ate at La Bottega in Vail, Rocks in Beaver Creek, and Narayan’s Nepal and Vista in Avon. We ate in or ordered pizza a few nights (Pazzo’s). La Bottega was cozy and dark. Good Italian, with reasonable prices for Vail: most of the pasta dishes are under $20. Rocks is an unusual looking restaurant. The owners converted what were obviously a series of spaces devoted to other things into the dining area, so you might have a bit of a sense of being in a former hallway. But the various materials used for wall surfaces, brass, stone, glass, and wood make it all somehow fit together. The service was welcoming. When we mentioned that the menu didn’t include any vegetarian entrees, the waitress immediately said she would go tell the chef to come up with something creative, which he did. Narayan’s Nepal (not Narayan’s Thai, which is across the street) is a good Indian restaurant. I was waiting for something identifiably Nepalese (yak butter maybe?), but the menu seemed to consist of standard Indian fare such as chicken tikka, saag paneer, naan bread, etc. The restaurant is in the Christie Lodge, a rather depressing budget hotel, and there were only a smattering of diners the night we were there. I suspect the restaurant may not last long, which is unfortunate, because the food is excellent. Our favorite restaurant by far: Vista. Best food, best service, best ambiance, and even best value (for instance, most items on the wine list were in the twenty something to thirty something dollar range - a rarity in the Vail - Beaver Creek area). Everything on the menu (http://vistarestaurant.com/DinnerMenu.htm) was delicious, but the very most delicious item of all the delicious items was the gnocchi appetizer.
We usually had lunch on the mountain. Spruce Saddle at BC has delicious hearty soups and stews for, I think, $6.95. In Vail, we went to the Wildwood BBQ place at the top of Game Creek Bowl. Very tasty BBQ sauce. On the way out of town we had our final lunch in Edwards, at the French Press. The food was quite good, and creative in a not-necessarily French way (like my veggie reuben sandwich), but the service, although well-meaning, was decidedly spotty. I very much liked the Riverwalk area in Edwards where French Press is located. It has a more Aspen-like, store-front quality than Beaver Creek, Avon, or Vail, and it seems a little more down-to-earth than Beaver Creek, although it does also have a branch of Gorsuch (which has such terrific deals as men's button-down oxford shirts for $348.00). I would also consider staying in Edwards to ski in BC for some future trip, but I would definitely drive to the mountain.
So, there you have it.