Beyond the slopes of Beaver Creek, special treats for kids and grownups

By Eileen Ogintz

AVON, CO — No guilt allowed!

I’m in the elevator at the Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa in my hotel-issued robe heading downstairs to the Spa Anjali for a massage. Incidentally, the treatments are focused on three healing mountain traditions—the Rockies, Alps and Himalayas.

And I’m not the only one in the elevator in a robe! Would I like champagne or oxidant-infused water, the spa staff asks when I check in.

Spa Anjali
Spa Anjali

This after a full day of skiing with an instructor at the Beaver Creek Resort in the Vail Valley, a leisurely lunch at the Fireside Grill at the Vail Resort famous for its “beach ball” shaped mountain–which means even beginners can find mellow green slopes at the top of the mountain and enjoy the stellar views. The kids love the mountain cabins that sell candy, cookies and ice cream—The Candy Cabin at the top of Strawberry Park lift, in fact, looks like something Hansel and Gretel could have wandered into—with happier results, of course.

And after a day on the slopes, here I am enjoying the sauna (Himalayan salts to reduce stress!) the steam and a massage—what oils would I like (something relaxing or invigorating?) What kind of balm (shea butter for moisture or arnica to soothe aching muscles?)

The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa in Avon, a short Riverfront Express Gondola ride from the slopes, is on 19 acres along the banks of the Eagle River (kayak or bike or hike in summer on the 40-mile riverfront trail; enjoy the views from the three hot tubs!)

Westin Riverfront Resort connects to Beaver Creek Ski Resort
Westin Riverfront Resort connects to Beaver Creek Ski Resort

The hotel isn’t huge –230 rooms and condos up to three-bedroom condos. Our room has a mini fridge, microwave and two-burner stove –enough to prepare a quick breakfast.

Maya, the hotel restaurant created by Chef Richard Sandoval is a “Modern Mexican Kitchen and Tequila Bar” (think more than 150 agave-based spirts ad house-infused tequilas). We loved the tableside-made guacamole, the mole chicken and one of the restaurant’s signature dishes, shrimp and crab enchiladas.

Memo to Self: come skiing on Super Bowl Sunday. The night we dined in Maya, in fact, was Super Bowl Sunday and we could see the game from the two TVs at the bar. Scores of hotel guests including kids and dogs (yes, the hotel is pooch-friendly) were sprawled in the spacious two-story lobby, nibbling on nachos and burgers watching the game (and the ads) on more than a half dozen big-screen TVs—a super bowl party where no one had to cook or clean up!

The Candy Cabin at Beaver Creek
The Candy Cabin at Beaver Creek

Another plus about skiing Super Bowl Sunday: There was no traffic driving from Denver to the Mountains on a Saturday morning (which can be worse than New York rush hour) and there were no lift lines—presumably everyone getting ready for Super Bowl festivities.

For those who don’t think they get enough exercise on the slopes, you can track how many vertical feet you’ve skied by downloading the free EpicMix pass and your ski pass. There is a first-rate Athletic Club where you can also work with a personal trainer, swim laps outside in the heated lap pool, take a Yoga or Pilates class. Think 27,000 square feet of spa, fitness and wellness facilities –a great place to spend a day off the slopes!

Seafood linguini at Toscanini
Seafood linguini at Toscanini

And when we wanted to go to Beaver Creek Village for dinner at the popular Toscanini Beaver Creek for dinner, the valet staff obliged—giving us a ride (just five minutes away) so we didn’t need to wait for the free shuttle. They picked us up too after a great dinner (think seared scallops with mushroom risotto; linguini with chunks of lobster and shrimp in a spicy sauce and a creamy Burrata cheese. I was sorry we were too stuffed for desert –which included Meyer lemon crème Brule, warm molten dark chocolate cake with salted caramel gelato among the choices.

And though this is a high-end Vail Resorts restaurant, this is ski country, so dress is casual, and kids are welcome with a kids’ menu offering everything from pizza to pasta with shrimp, chicken or Bolognese sauce, grilled chicken and a create your own sundae for dessert.

The Westin too is very family friendly (recognized by Parents Magazine as one of the “10 Best Snow Resorts for Families”) but also works for an adult getaway. (Check the website for special spring deals!) And the resort is green—from being built with recycled content materials, part of the Clean the World program that sends partially used soap products to people in need and the onsite organic herb garden that produces lettuce and herbs for the restaurant, among the initiatives.

Kids skiing area at Beaver Creek
Kids skiing area at Beaver Creek

There’s something nice about being indulged for a few days—the staff takes and stores your skis at the end of the day and dries your boot in the Ski Valet. They’ll even help you buckle them.

And for those who need to get to ski school in the morning, there is a shuttle as the gondola deposits you a good skiing distance from the Beaver Creek Village where ski school classes meet.

Fresh snow last night. Time to get out on the slopes for one more day. Thanks, Westin.

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