Lounge at Park Hyatt, Beaver Creek, American West

Park Hyatt Beaver Creek

The Park Hyatt created quite a stir when it debuted, combining sort-of-Bavarian architecture with a full roster of modern ski resort amenities, from ski valets who’ll help you adjust your boots to fire pits on the terrace. Over the years it has fared pretty well; even the enormous elk antler chandelier in the lobby seems to avoid cliché status. Significantly, though, the 190 rooms and suites underwent renovations in preparation for the 2013-14 ski season, and they were sorely needed if one expected top-tier Park Hyatt luxury. Even after the soft-goods update, it’s important to note that rooms facing the mountain can be noisy, what with the pool, hot tubs, fire pits, and lots of kid activity downstairs.

One amenity that started out spectacular and has only improved is the Allegria spa, a delightful place to get rubbed, buffed, soaked, wrapped, polished, or just generally pampered. A whopping 30,000 square feet, it’s one of the few ski country spas set above ground, meaning it’s flooded with light. Don’t miss the Ashiatsu barefoot massage (yes, she walks on your back), something rarely found outside Asia. The fitness center is one of the best in Beaver Creek and offers a variety of classes including Barre. 8100 Mountainside Grill is the hotel’s all-day dining room, which serves a great breakfast buffet that is a highlight, especially for those with kids. Also not-to-miss is the hotel's s'mores happy hour, an end-of-day ritual when guests can enjoy complimentary s'mores fireside.

Those who are more attracted to boutique hotels may be overwhelmed by the size of the resort, but overall the Park Hyatt offers something for everyone, with its ideal location, amazing spa and fitness center, fresh room décor and ski-in/ski-out location.

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Suite at Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch, Beaver Creek, American West

Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch

Though the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch is not in the heart of the base village, its many fans couldn’t care less. The mere thought of staying in a club floor room at the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch brings a smile of anticipation. The pleasures of this place are so numerous it’s hard to know where to start, but one must begin with the building itself. From the outside, as you wind your way up the road from the gated entrance into the Bachelor Gulch side of Beaver Creek, the structure doesn’t just echo the great National Park lodges; it seems to have sprung forth from the same era, its massive timbers framing interior spaces both intimate and grand. Grand would be the bar and lounge area, the left side of which boasts a small, casual restaurant. To the right is WYLD, all sleekly modern with pony-skin chairs, John Fiedler photo murals, and perfectly-executed contemporary cuisine. The bar, Bachelor's Lounge, has a speakeasy vibe and offers hookah and craft cocktails including the signature vaportini, which has zero calories. Intimate spaces include the 26,000-square-foot spa, with its dimly-lit rock-walled grotto and waterfall and a wide array of treatment options.

A few steps outside is the Bachelor Gulch chairlift, a casual grill/café, plus a big heated pool perfect for swimming laps. This west-facing area is the ideal place for après ski drinks, a dunk in the hot tub, and serious people-watching. Upstairs, the club floor lounge and guestrooms (which are truly worth the upgrade) are cozy and spacious.The friendly, helpful staff in the lounge only adds to the feeling of well-being. The two- and three-bedroom residences (complete with kitchens living rooms) are ideal for families looking for more space, and pets are more than welcome; the in-room dining menu has a section devoted to canine companions. What you gain in romance and privacy, though, does cost in convenience as the resort is a shuttle-ride away from the village of Beaver Creek so if you want off-property action like the shops, ice skating and dining of Beaver Creek, you are a drive away. During busy times, the Beaver Creek Ski School does pick-ups from the hotel but otherwise, it can be a hassle to shuttle little ones back and forth between the village so be forewarned.

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Aerial View : The Chateau Residence Club, Beaver Creek, American West

The Chateau Residence Club

Ever since its construction in Beaver Creek’s early days, The Chateau has possessed a certain mystique: its fortress-like wood and stucco façade loomed over supposedly lesser buildings, but since very few of its 65 units were available for rent, non-owners had to be content with hearing rapturous praise for the place without actually staying there. Even a short visit to dine at the aptly-named restaurant, Splendido, only enhanced the Chateau’s aura.

Recently, however, the homeowners association has decided to up the Chateau’s visibility, with sixteen of the units in the two buildings (and one of the eight beautiful private homes also on the property) now in a rental pool, and some units coming up for resale for the first time in decades. What guests will find now is a surprisingly cozy castle, where despite the limestone floors and stone arches, the individual residences manage to be warm and welcoming. Each unit has a different floor plan and furnishings; as a result there are no online bookings, as the staff prefers to be able to match the guest to the residence. (As a general rule, the units in the adjacent Chateau Terrace are larger than those in the main building.) That said, expect steam showers, heated bathroom floors and towel bars, terraces with views ranging from enchanting to drop-dead, and plush furniture, the kind of sofas and beds you sink into with a sigh of contentment.

But the biggest assets are the service and the amenities. Forty-nine staff members, many with long tenure here, keep things humming and polished. There’s a concierge desk, a small but very nice indoor-outdoor pool, plus a newly remodeled fitness facility and spa rooms. The skier’s lounge offers a continental breakfast every morning in season, and a ski valet will take care of tuning your skis and setting them out by the gate that leads right onto a short trail to the base lifts. In sum, this is an intimate and classy place that easily ranks near the top of Beaver Creek’s preferred accommodations.

Exterior view - The Osprey, Beaver Creek, American West

The Osprey

The transformation of the old Beaver Creek Lodge into the sleek Osprey has been ongoing for a few years, and now it’s pretty much complete. The small reception area leads on to a chic bar/lounge area and a wood and stone-lined living room where, come morning, guests feel comfortable noshing on granola parfaits and reading the news on their iPads. The contemporary look carries through to the forty-five guest rooms; they’re far more Nordic cool than Alpine rustic. Deluxe rooms have vaulted ceilings in addition to fireplaces, tall platform beds, walk-in closets, and warm, butter-colored walls that glow enticingly at night. A pair of large, ultra-contemporary two-bedroom condos are also available here, so close to the chairlift you could hand a passing skier a hot chocolate. Food service consists of breakfast, lunch, and après ski tapas in the Osprey Lounge, all beautifully turned out by executive chef David Sanchez; a dinner restaurant with a full menu opened in the 2013 winter season upstairs.

Trapper’s Cabin

It’s one thing to rent a private home at a ski area like Beaver Creek or Vail; quite another to spend a night (or more) snuggled into this four-bedroom trailside cabin up at 9,500 feet. Sure, there’s a housekeeping staff to prepare the hors d’oeuvres when you ski up in the late afternoon. And the hot tub on the deck will be properly heated when you take a dip under the stars after dinner. But then comes the magical moment when the cabin-keepers have loaded the dishwasher, tidied the bathrooms, and bid you a good evening, hopping onto their snowmobiles and leaving you (and perhaps a few friends) totally, utterly alone, with barely a light to be seen in the distance. In the morning, they’ll tiptoe back in and start frying up the bacon (or anything else you want) for breakfast, but that carefree, blissfully silent night is what really elevates Trapper’s above all other ski-house experiences. A 2008 renovation brought the four bathrooms up to date with granite countertops, etc. and the bedrooms got upscale bedding, but the soul of Trapper’s remains the same.

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