Beaver Creek is among the few resorts in the world that makes pulling off a family ski vacation effortless. And that’s saying a lot. Traveling with multiple generations to the mountains for a gear-intensive sport entails a lot of moving parts. There’s the sheer schleppage of boots and skis and poles and layers upon layers of warm clothes. There’s the high altitude to contend with (oxygen, anyone?). And there are so many choices to be made—ski-in/ski-out? Condo or hotel? Ski school or go it alone? How to make sense of the village and the mountain?—that the uninitiated might be tempted to flee to the beach with only a sarong and flip flops. That would be a mistake. Skiing and snowboarding as a family provides intensive, undistracted bonding time in one of the most beautiful, most fun environments. There is nothing like sliding downhill on boards with metal edges with the people you love most. I’ve been skiing with my family since my elementary school-age kids were in diapers, and now it’s an integral part of our winter, thanks in part to the many memorable trips we’ve made over the years to Beaver Creek. This is the ideal resort to hone your family winter tradition. With a suite of employees devoted to worrying about the details so you don’t have to, families need only arrive and then relax for a tour through their own personal snow globe. —Rachel Walker
1) COOKIE TIME
White-capped chefs serve freshly baked chocolate chip cookies daily at the base of Centennial Express Chairlift and the second level of the escalators in what’s become one of Beaver Creek’s most beloved traditions. Each fall, Beaver Creek holds a bake-off, the World’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Competition, to select that season’s recipe, and the end result is a delicious chocolatey treat that starts your visit out with a buttery bang.
5:30 p.m. (or dusk, as the days get longer)
2) THURSDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
A brilliant fireworks show follows this weekly glow-stick parade. Kids (and their parents) may join and ski or ride down, or simply admire the fluorescent rainbow schussing down the slopes as night falls. The combination of lively music, encroaching night, bright lights and fireworks creates a magical ambiance. Register at the Ski and Snowboard School (970-754-4636) and bring your own gear. Participants must be Level 5+ skiers or snowboarders, and minors need a parent- or guardian-signed waiver.
3) NEW YORK PIZZA AT 8,080 FEET
Life is short, eat more pizza! So advise the folks at Blue Moose Pizza, the casual and family-friendly eatery in the heart of Beaver Creek Village. Kids will love the cheesy pies and the paper table clothes with accompanying crayons; parents will appreciate that the food is hearty and healthy, the beer menu extensive, and the staff friendly. Kid’s slices start at $3.25, pizza pies start at $13.95 (12” cheese).
4) TUCK IN
The recently renovated Pines Lodge is ideal for families. Whether you opt for a standard hotel room or a 4-bedroom townhouse, you’ll be transported by the lodge’s European charm. Recent upgrades ensure the luxury parents want on a getaway, while the pool and hot tub promise to become your kids’ favorite amenity. Grouse Mountain Grille, located in the lodge, was recently named Open Table’s Diner’s Choice, a coveted accolade that celebrates the restaurant’s Valley-to-Table ethos that sources local meats and produce from family farms and ranches in the valley and imports fresh seafood daily.
Once the kids are in bed, work out the knots with a personalized, in-room massage. New this season, this come-to-you treatment blends bodywork techniques ranging from Swedish, sport, and deep-tissue massage combined with aromatherapy essential oils.
5) READY FOR THE DAY
No need to cart your gear back and forth to you hotel when you get a daily membership to the White Carpet Club, located right by Ski School and an escalator ride from the slopes in Beaver Creek Village. Membership includes friendly concierges to answer your questions and even book reservations, lockers for your gear complete with boot heaters convenient and even a complimentary breakfast to get you fueled up for the day.
6) HEAD TO SCHOOL
Beaver Creek’s Ski and Snowboard school is perhaps the best in the country. Trust me–as a ski writer, I’ve put my kids in ski schools from coast to coast, and everywhere in between. Nowhere have I found a school with so consistent and patient instructors. Plus, the school’s Kids Ranch is designed for optimal fun. From the interactive screens that let instructors show video from the morning’s lesson to the healthy and delicious lunches, kids adore the ranch. Consider booking a family private lesson, where you and up to five family members share an instructor. This is a great way to prep your ski legs and get a feel for the mountain. Prices vary and reservations are highly recommended.
Got a little one who doesn’t ski? Hightail it to Beaver Creek’s child care and nursery, an inspired facility staffed with certified childcare professionals. The first time I left my son there, he was five months old, and he drank all his bottles, napped, and gummed on some of their chewy (and sanitized, of course!) toys. When kiddo number two came along, my first son went to ski school while his brother headed to the childcare—multiple times. I’ve been consistently impressed with the responsiveness and kindness of the staff here and recommend it to everyone. I’m not the only one. People make reservations far in advance, and I urge you to do the same.
7) SLEIGH BELLS RING
Allie’s Cabin is a remote, on-mountain cabin that’s long been the purview of gourmands with its wine dinners. This year, the intimate, cozy outpost is opening its doors to families. Take an open sleigh ride from Beaver Creek Village up the mountain to the lodge, tuck your feet into awaiting slippers and prepare for a three-course buffet dinner. There aren’t enough words to describe the sweeping views or the glowing interior (warmed by the floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace) or the thrill of descending “home” under a starlit sky with a full belly.
11) SWEET SOUVENIRS
Put yesterday’s lessons to use during a morning family ski session, but leave time for the Beaver Creek Candy Cabin, an inimitable experience (think Willy Wonka meets Little House on the Prairie mercantile and moves to the mountains). This is a Sweet Shoppe like none other (and a perfect place to procure some delectable bribes to convince the kiddos to take a few more runs once they’ve decided the hot tub calls). Opened in 2014, the Candy Cabin is located at the top of Strawberry Park Express and Upper Beaver Creek Mountain Express lifts, and it features artisan chocolates available nowhere else. These chocolates, created by fifth generation chocolatier Michael Mootz, come in custom boxes and in winter-tastic shapes like snowflakes, snowmen or ski boots.
It’s never been easier to plan a family vacation to Beaver Creek, which has a trove of information on Beavercreek.com and agents available to talk at 888-222-1878 (international visitors may call 1-970-496-4925).
Rachel Walker is a freelance writer and editor based in Boulder, Colorado, who covers family travel and adventure for a range of print and online publications.
We were blessed with over 5 FEET of snow in December. We can’t wait to see what January brings! Here are some of our favorite snowy shots from the month (photos by Jon Resnick):
Beaver Creek offers a luxury alpine ski experience unlike anywhere else. Some of the elements that set Beaver Creek apart are intangible – the feeling of driving through the gates or standing on top of the mountain, taking in the seemingly endless views – while others are purposeful touches and details that cater to your every need.