Insider, local knowledge is key if you’re looking to tick off all the must-do activities, see all the highlights and have an authentic experience on your next ski trip. Locals are chock full of ideas and inspiration to make your ski trip unforgettable, so who better to tap for insider guidance, than the local lodging concierges? That’s why we’ve created a new Ski.com Blog series: Concierge Conversations, where you can glean great destination-based tips and recommendations and learn a bit more about some of the area’s top lodging options.
We tapped, Stephanie Merritt, who’s been a concierge at the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek for two years and living in Beaver Creek for seven years, to answer a couple questions about her favorite aspects of her homebase and place of work.
A few of Stephanie’s favorite things
Ski.com: What drew you to the destination originally and what has kept you there?
SM: When I was young, my parents liked to take us to colder destinations for vacation to escape the Florida heat and humidity—my Nana and Papa had a condo in Avon, the town at the base of Beaver Creek Mountain, and when we’d come visit we’d ski, make snowmen, and enjoy being together as a family. It was an easy decision to spend a summer here when I was figuring out what my next steps were after graduating college…and then my summer turned into winter, I met my now-fiancé, got a dog and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else!
Ski.com: What are your three favorite things to do at the destination in the winter?
SM: The wintertime is magical at Beaver Creek! Our snow is soft and fluffy and looks like a Christmas card! I love spending time on the slopes—powder days, bluebird days, I just love being outside on the hill. My other two favorite activities are snowmobiling and dogsledding. We work with amazing outfitters who know all the best snowmobiling trails, and the dogs are just so darned cute and love running on their trails!
Ski.com: In your opinion, what are some secrets or lesser known facts/attributes about Beaver Creek that visitors should know?
SM: Beaver Creek is world renowned for the World Cup downhill course, Birds of Prey. You can ski the same runs Bode Miller, Ted Ligety, Lindsay Vonn, and Mikaela Shiffrin. But Beaver Creek also has one of the top Nordic parks in the country. McCoy Park boasts 32-plus kilometers of groomed and rustic trails for cross country skiing and snowshoeing. The views from McCoy Park (at the top of the Strawberry Park lift) are stunning!
Ski.com: What are some secrets or lesser known facts/attributes about the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek?
SM: Firstly, the bellmen provide a wealth of knowledge for visitors. One of our bellmen has been with the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek since it opened, 27 years this December! They each have their own favorite restaurants, activities and are always happy to share their insider knowledge with guests. Secondly, we have a Dickens Village, which belongs to Chef Christian—it was handed down to him from his grandparents, and each winter we set it up to delight our guests and visitors. Thirdly, we do a S’Mores Happy Hour each day for our guests and our pastry chefs make different marshmallow treats from scratch each day! My favorite is the Grand Marnier marshmallow.
Ski.com: If you could only ski or ride one run at Beaver Creek for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
SM: Hmmm….this is a tough one! For the best run, I’d take Centennial. It runs from the top of the mountain to the bottom and encompasses all three levels along the way. It begins as a green run, then turns black, then blue, then back to black and is more than 3,000 vertical feet long! If I’m only going to do one, it’s the best bang for my buck, that’s for sure!
Ski.com: When guests ask you for the local’s scoop on après-ski/dining/nightlife what do you recommend and why?
SM: There are many different options for après-ski depending on the ambiance you are looking for. At 8100 Mountainside Bar & Grill, we have different featured Colorado brews, and the green goddess and feta shishito peppers pair deliciously. The Coyote Café is Beaver Creek’s oldest restaurant and is always filled with locals. They have amazing margaritas, which pair well with the best nachos in town (a fantastic chip to “stuff” ratio, so you’re not left with a basket of chips at the end), and a big screen playing old Warren Miller Ski Movies or the season’s big game.
The Metropolitan has an enormous wine list, featuring different whites and reds for every palette. Try a rioja with the albondigas or the bacon wrapped dates. Your tastebuds will thank you. For fine dining, I also love Grouse Mountain Grill (pretzel crusted pork chops, so good!), Mirabelle (located in an adorable 1800’s homesteaders cabin with award winning Chef Joly) and Juniper Restaurant in Edwards (I have a standing reservation there on my birthday).
Ski.com: When guests ask you for recommendations for family experiences what’s your go-to itinerary and don’t-miss spots/restaurants and why?
SM: Beaver Creek is such a family friendly resort, and has different activities and festivals throughout the summer. We’d have to start the day off right with a delicious and decadent breakfast buffet from 8100 Mountainside Bar & Grill, located within the Park Hyatt (Chef Jason and his team have breakfast dialed in!).
Once we feel thoroughly nourished, we’d go skiing—at the top of Beaver Creek, there are fantastic family green runs, so even the beginner skiers feel included and aren’t stuck on the bunny hill! Many guests like to eat on mountain, but I think it’s worth it to leave your skis with our Ski Valet and eat lunch in the village. It’s much quieter, and a great bang for your buck. One of the most popular restaurants in the village is Hooked, and they’ll be much more accessible at lunchtime. I’ve mentioned this before and I’ll say it again—get the Crimpster! It’s the seafood version of turducken! Crab meat stuffed in a jumbo prawn, stuffed in a lobster tail, and wrapped in bacon. It’s one of my favorite things in the whole world.
Then, more skiing in the afternoon with the family until precisely 3 p.m. on the dot. 3 p.m. is a magical hour at Beaver Creek—it’s cookie time! Warm, scrumptious, complimentary chocolate chip cookies, are passed out in the village and slopeside. If it’s cold, Rimini has homemade hot chocolate to warm you up from the inside out. If you still have energy, the Black Family Ice Rink is open nightly for skating in the snow! If you’d rather be inside, the Vilar Performing Arts Center has a lineup of Grammy winners, Broadway musicals, acclaimed dance companies, and more—go see a show! Phew, what a day!
Ski.com: When guests ask you for recommendations for upscale experiences what’s your go-to itinerary and don’t-miss spots/restaurants and why?
SM: Beano’s Cabin. You’ll be whisked up the mountain in an open air sleigh, and taken to a cabin nestled in the Larkspur Bowl. There, you can shed your warm layers and put on slippers to enjoy an amazing meal! Iron Chef Cat Cora even gushed about Beano’s Cabin on Food Network’s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” so you know you’re in for a treat! Beano’s Cabin offers a five-course meal, featuring local and seasonal ingredients and Colorado proteins. There’s live guitar, a warm fireplace, and floor to ceiling windows offering glimpses of the White River National Forest surrounding you. Beano’s has a sister cabin, called Zach’s Cabin. Zach’s is also incredible, and a bit more intimate, and also only accessible by an open-air sleigh. The cabins are uniquely Beaver Creek and I love taking my family there when they come to visit.
Ski.com: What winter event or time of ski season do you look forward to most and why?
SM: Beaver Creek Winter Culinary Weekend is one of my favorite festivals of the winter. It’s typically the third weekend in January and features both nationally famous and local chefs. The events change a bit year to year, but you can count on delicious eats and craft libations. In the past, celebrity chefs have included John Besh, Sam Talbot, Gail Simmons, Spike Mendelsohn and Stephanie Izard, with events unique to Beaver Creek including Ski.Eat.Ski., Celebrity Chef Ski Championship and Slopeside Burgers & Beer. Each event is ticketed, or you can purchase a pass for the entire weekend. Just make sure to come with a hearty appetite!
Ski.com: What do you think makes your property popular?
SM: The Park Hyatt Beaver Creek is located slopeside, with our Ski Valet just steps from the Buckaroo Gondola. Location is so important, but what I truly believe makes our resort stand out from other properties is our staff. I’m so blessed to work with such an amazing team and we strive to ensure our guests have an incredible family vacation. We also like to offer little things to make our guests feel more at home: from Elf on a Shelf and the ability to have Christmas trees in guestrooms around the holiday season to chocolates on Valentine’s Day, live music in the Living Room after a day of skiing, S’Mores Happy Hour, and more. Family vacations are a time to enjoy each other’s company and to create new memories. We want to make each memory absolutely delightful!
Ready to book your stay at the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek in Beaver Creek, Colorado? Our 70 Mountain Travel Experts are standing by for your call at 800-610-8911. You can also get started by filling out a form for a free custom quote.
Originally from the icy trails of New Jersey, I moved West to pursue powder and a career in writing and editing. Now in Aspen, Colo. and working for Ski.com managing the website and blog content, I couldn't be happier. You'll find me skiing at Aspen Mountain or Aspen Highlands in the winter and mountain biking at Snowmass in the summer.