Rocky Mountain Weekender: Avon-Beaver Creek

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It’s a beautiful bluebird day, and the Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa in Avon fades into the vast and rugged landscape as the gondola ascends over the first ridge en route to Beaver Creek.

Situated just north of the Eagle River, the new-for-2008 hotel is one of the plushest – and greenest – new hotels in the state. It’s the first hotel in Colorado and the first Westin to attain Silver LEED status, and only the ninth in the entire U.S. Half of its power is sourced from wind and other renewable sources, and half of the materials used in its construction were either sourced from within 500 miles or recycled – such as the roof tiles that were tires in a former life.

I turn my attention to the south: The runs of Beaver Creek rise abruptly from the foothills. It’s only a three-minute ride on the hotel’s resident Riverfront Express Gondola to the first lift.

Soon I’m cruising down my first buttery blue run mid-mountain, ducking through an aspen grove and through a stretch of moguls. A small army of snowcats takes to the slopes for midday touchups. For fans of picture-perfect corduroy on groomed runs, there’s no place like Beaver Creek on the I-70 corridor. And on this day at least, I’m definitely one of them.

After lunch back at the slick kitchen in my suite at the Westin, I’m back on the mountain, pushing myself on some of the steeper runs on Grouse Mountain before calling it a day as the lifts came to a stop at 4 p.m.

The outdoor hot tubs and fire pits alive with activity, and the apres-ski at the resident eatery Avondale is something of a revelation – $5 wells, $3 drafts, and $5 small plates including garlicky mussels and potato skins unlike anything you’ll find in the ‘burbs.

The hotel is the crown jewel of a billion dollars of investment that’s gone into Avon and Beaver Creek in the past few years, rendering the resort unrecognizable to those who last skied its impeccably manicured slopes a decade ago.

This money was visibly well spent at the Westin, its rooms outfitted with HD flatscreens, jetted tubs, both single-cup coffeemakers and coffeepots, and great views of both the river and the ski mountain – not to mention the marshmallow-like mattresses that my ski-, alcohol-, and hot-tub-fatigued body melts into on first contact.

Rack rates at the Westin Riverfront start at $349, and Colorado residents get an additional 20 percent off of the lowest rate through April 15. Ski/snowboard packages are also available.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Westin Riverfront: 126 Riverfront Ln., Avon; www.westinriverfrontavon.com, (866) 949-1616.
Beaver Creek: www.beavercreek.com, (800) 842-8062

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