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Praising Vail’s little sister

Tamara Miller

Vail really does have it all – the snow, the terrain, groomed runs and bump runs. The nightlife is fantastic, the restaurants are top grade and the service is getting better and better.

So why does Beaver Creek seem more like the local’s mountain?

It’s sort of ironic. The ski resort is surrounded by a wealthy and well-connected community; a community that seems to be threatening legal action against Vail Resorts for planning to build an alpine slide for kids nearby – the horror of horrors.

Beaver Creek’s latest ad campaign is aimed squarely at those who enjoy the finer things in life, and can afford them. Look for the resort’s ad in the latest issue of The New Yorker. The picture shows a lone skier gliding through untouched powder, the view caught through a few snow-covered trees. The message below is subtle and to the point – “Not exactly roughing it.”

Beaver Creek is the poshest of the posh. Skiers and boarders can rest their legs on the way to the slopes by riding an escalator to the base. When they return to the bottom at the end of the day, those weary riders can look for warm chocolate-chip cookies, served on a silver platter by smiling, white-coated staff. Beaver Creek may be targeting the laps of luxury but local workers get to enjoy the upgrades, too.

The Beav’s rise in popularity with the valley’s worker bees is no doubt in part because of its location. We’re moving west because second-home owners – like those who live in Beaver Creek – are driving up home prices. When the weekend comes around, the drive from Eagle to Vail just seems a little unnecessary – especially when you can get to Beaver Creek 10 minutes faster.

In Vail’s lift lines, you’ll rub shoulders with tourists from around the world. In Beaver Creek’s lift lines, you’re likely to run into an old friend.

It also doesn’t hurt that you can park for free at the base of Beaver Creek and ride a bus up to the village, instead of forking over close to $20 to park at Vail.

Generally speaking, locals who live east of Avon seem to save their trips to Vail on those perfect ski days, when the powder is fresh and the sky is clear and blue. And it’s not a waste: The Back Bowls truly are phenomenal and you can always find a great run in Blue Sky Basin. But I know of more than a few people who rack up most of their ski days doing laps in Beaver Creek’s Rose Bowl, Larkspur or Strawberry Park.

It’s not nice to play favorites. Both of our county’s ski resorts have enough bumps, powder, groomers and steeps to satisfy the recreational skier. A bad day at Vail is still way better than a good day at a Summit County resort. And Vail has the size and clout to attract the events, people and international tourists that keep our local economy running.

Vail’s little sister may not make the No. 1 ranking in SKI magazine anytime soon. But someone asked me the other day which resort I liked the best, and I had to tell the truth. Beaver Creek is the ski resort closest to my home, and my heart. VT

E-mail comments about this column to tmiller@vailtrail.com.


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