Avon’s first gondola carrying skiers | VailDaily.com

Avon’s first gondola carrying skiers

Matt Terrell
Vail, CO Colorado
Kristin Anderson/Vail DailyVirginia residents Andrew Glisson, left, and Brandon Cocke unload from the Riverfront Express gondola Thursday at Beaver Creek Landing.

AVON, Colorado ” If you’re ready to ski, the new gondola in Avon is a fast way to get to Beaver Creek Mountain, says Bobby Allerton, a visitor from Tennessee.

It took five minutes for Allerton to walk from his friend’s apartment in Avon to the gondola, and it took a three-minute ride on the Gondola to reach to Chair 15. From bed to chair lift, eight minutes isn’t bad, Allerton said.

“That was pretty handy, I must say,” Allerton said. “That wasn’t there last year for sure.”

Thursday was the first day of operation for the Riverfront Express gondola in Avon. By around 1 p.m., about 50 people had taken the ride up, said David Ogier, one of the Gondola operators.

The gondola is part of the $500 million Riverfront Village development, which is centered around the Westin Riverfront Resort and Spa, expected to open Summer 2008.

The gondola is being advertised as the fastest way to get from Avon to Beaver Creek Mountain. A three-minute gondola ride delivers skiers to Beaver Creek Landing, where two high-speed quad chairlifts deliver skiers and snowboarders in 16 minutes to the main mountain.

If you need to get to Beaver Creek Village, buses make regular stops at the landing. Courtney Salin, a yearly visitor from Texas, said if you need gear and a bite to eat from the village, the gondola may not be the quickest way to get there. Then again, she hadn’t timed it herself.

The gondola is a short walk from Avon Station, the new transit hub on Benchmark Road which is the main stop for town, county and ski shuttle buses.

Avon leaders have said the gondola will play an important part in the planned revitalization of the downtown area. Planners are hoping to make downtown Avon a bustling core of shops, restaurants, hotels and homes, all anchored on a new “Main Street.” The idea is to have a mini downtown Denver in the mountains, a place where everything is within walking distance.

“It will motivate a lot of the redevelopment we hope to have,” Mayor Ron Wolfe said. “It will be a neat place for guests and full-time residents who don’t mind living in a more urbanized neighborhood where they can walk around, hop on the gondola and ski.”

Staff Writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 748-2955 or mterrell@vaildaily.com.

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