Vail Valley

Plethora of ski options emerging

By: Mimi Kmet

Until recently, Bachelor Gulch and Arrowhead didn’t come to mind immediately when visitors considered skiing Colorado’s Vail Valley. But that’s changing.

Seven years ago the two villages and their ski areas became linked to the better-known Beaver Creek Village via a high-speed quad lift at Bachelor Gulch, but even then few guests wandered that far off the beaten track. (Arrowhead is about 10 miles west of Beaver Creek; Bachelor Gulch lies between the two.)

“For the most part, people who live in Arrowhead use that area,” said Emily Jacob, spokeswoman for Beaver Creek Mountain, which encompasses all three villages. “It’s one of the local secrets.”

She added, however, the number of skiers at both of the lesser-known villages has “increased quite substantially” in recent years, as visitors have become more familiar with the terrain.

Between the two spots, there are 37 trails and three lifts. Add in Beaver Creek Village and there are 146 trails and 14 lifts.

In all, the mountain offers 1,625 skiable acres, and one ticket provides village-to-village access to all three ski areas.

In addition, lift tickets purchased there are valid at any of Vail Resorts’ other Colorado ski areas Vail, Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin.

Another major development that helped put the two villages on the map was the opening last November of the 237-room Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch, just steps from the high-speed quad. The only hotel property in Bachelor Gulch, it features a 21,000-square-foot spa and fitness center, six food and beverage facilities, four tennis courts and a full array of services for skiers and snow lovers.

“Bachelor Gulch definitely has come into its own with the Ritz-Carlton,” Jacob said.

During summer, guests at the Ritz-Carlton and at any Vail Resorts property, such as the Pines Lodge or the Inn at Beaver Creek, have guaranteed tee times at the nearby Red Sky Golf Club, which offers two new championship courses designed by Tom Fazio and Greg Norman, respectively.

Unlike Beaver Creek Village, which clearly was developed for visitors, Arrowhead and Bachelor Gulch villages are patronized mainly by Vail Valley residents. But there are plenty of condominiums for rent and lots of food and beverage facilities for guests who feel inclined to mix with the locals.

Beaver Creek Village offers three hotels, including the luxury Park Hyatt, as well as a number of condominium units and dozens of restaurants, bars and shops in a quaint, pedestrian village.

In addition, the town of Avon, located at the base of the mountain, has eight moderately priced hotels and motels.

In all, more than 1,000 lodging units across several price ranges are available.

“There’s something commissionable in each area,” Jacob said.

Despite the increasing popularity of Arrowhead and Bachelor Gulch, there are no plans to develop them into larger resorts or combine them with Beaver Creek into one large destination.

“It will always be a village-to-village experience,” Jacob said. “We wanted to create a European atmosphere.”

Commissionable packages are available through wholesalers and hotels.

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