By Rachel Walker
Since my boys were babes (they are now four and six), we’ve taken them to the mountains several times each winter. It started because both my husband and I are avid skiers determined to raise a family of skiers. But, as anyone with children knows, traveling to the high country with the covered wagon’s worth of gear and small dependents can be anything but easy. Finding a resort that simplifies the process was key to our sanity, which is how we came to be fans of Beaver Creek. Here are some highlights of why Beaver Creek is great for families.
Beaver Creek has a range of hotel and home rentals, and my family’s done both. Each has its own advantage.
Two words: The Osprey. This fabulous boutique hotel sits slopeside, steps away from the Strawberry Lift. Elegant and clean with a modern but welcoming interior, the spacious rooms can accommodate a crib if you’ve got a baby on your hands. The casual fireside grill has an extensive menu that can be enjoyed on-site or via room service. Older kids will love the outdoor pool. Mom and Dad will love the proximity to the slopes so that one person can stay in with a napping tot while the other spins laps and then do an easy switch off.
We stayed at Bachelor Gulch when we wanted some more room and privacy. Our spacious retreat sat directly on a ski slope, much to the delight of our two- and four-year old sons who were obsessed with the passing snowcat groomers every night. One advantage to this house was the kitchen. Traveling with kids can be tiring (for everyone) and they can’t always be counted on to behave at a restaurant. When we cooked at home, we didn’t care if they refused to wear pants or insisted on running around the dining room with their toy trucks. Another advantage was the ease of transitioning on and off the mountain. Our four-year-old was just beginning to master his snowplow, and my husband and I took turns doing one or two runs (while the other stayed in with the toddler) and then coming home for hot cocoa and a rest.
There are two types of ski parents in the world: those who are new to ski school and those who are veterans.
The newbies are understandably anxious. Likely their kids are, too. This is the group that might have the most amount of tears at drop off. The veterans come with their kids’ gear labeled, their kids dressed to ski, and are generally quick to drop the kids off.
Regardless of what camp you are in, Beaver Creek Ski School makes the entire process seamless. From the minute you park in the covered parking garage (if you’re not staying at the village), you follow signs to the ski school, where a concierge will take your kids’ skis and point you to the registration area. The men and women on staff are pros. They’ll cheer an unhappy kid up and stoke an excited kid’s enthusiasm. They’ll get all your info, promise to call you if there are any problems and send you on your way.
And then your kids are the luckiest children in the world. Lessons base out of the Ranch, a state of the art school that feeds the kids nourishing meals, allows instructors to use video feedback to illustrate technical concepts and more.
It is not an understatement to say that Beaver Creek Ski School is among the best in North America. Staff retention is high, and student satisfaction is, too. My sons both cut their teeth at Beaver Creek, and today I can hardly keep up with my six-year-old on the blacks. My four-year-old insists on following his brother into the trees, and I let him go because I have confidence in his skiing foundation, which was developed at Beaver Creek.
There are not enough words to praise the state-certified Small World Nursery. Here kids are nurtured, cared for and entertained in an endlessly fun and stimulating environment. The staff is so accommodating that there is a room for nursing mothers to come feed their babies in the middle of a ski day. They do their best to adhere to nap schedules, don’t care how many times you call to check in (which I did regularly when my first was little because I was worried about leaving my infant with strangers…I had nothing to worry about). This place is renowned and popular, so make reservations: online here or call (970) 754-5325.
Beaver Creek loves kids. Why else do you think they give out free chocolate chip cookies at 3 p.m. daily, have outdoor fire pits where roasting marshmallows is actually encouraged, maintain a popular outdoor ice skating rink in the village and a dedicated (updated weekly) page on the website that highlights family-friendly events?
Put simply: a family ski vacation at Beaver Creek is a breeze. There’s world-class skiing, family-friendly lodging, superlative instruction and childcare, and an entire ski village filled with shops, restaurants, activities and more. Best of all (at least according to my kids) there are “stairs that move” (a.k.a. escalators) and really friendly staff who offer to carry your gear (I often make my six-year-old carry his own skis, much to his chagrin, but, as a mom, I love that Beaver Creek’s ambassadors are willing and able to help schlep the load. It makes all of our lives easier, which makes us love skiing even more, which helps my ultimate goal: to make mine a family of skiers.
The mountain biking at Beaver Creek has several things going for it that set it apart: the trails are never crowded; the terrain is rolling and expansive, with single track for all levels of ability; the aspen groves that are scattered throughout the resort will blow your mind; the views are superlative.
With the 2015-16 season behind us, it’s time to start planning for next winter! Beaver Creek will open Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2016, and operate through Sunday, April 16, 2017. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your next Beaver Creek escape.