Vail vs Beaver Creek for a Healthy Wellness Wind Down

Let me be clear, I did not grow up a skier. Before 5 years ago I had probably only ever been on Ski’s 3 times in my entire life. I did however grow up going to Colorado, developing a love affair that would pull at my heart strings constantly to escape into the Rocky Mountains.

I’m also not a daring person, I prefer to play the strategically planned out game rather than the hurl yourself over and down a mountain without a care in the world about falling or crashing.

But somewhere on one of these trips to Colorado I got myself on a pair of ski’s and if I’m being honest, I’ve never looked back. I would identify myself as a skier. I’m not great, but I’m also not horrible. I’m comfortable, confident, and enjoy the challenge, therapy, and solitude of whisking myself through the mountains.

I try to ski twice a year, living in Texas has it’s limitations obviously. But Colorado thanks to it’s convenience both driving and on that direct nonstop Southwest flight into Denver. It’s pretty reasonable to pack up and go ski for a weekend.

I’ve ski’d Durango, Wolf Creek, Winter Park, and Keystone a couple times (and it’s a personal favorite because of the night skiing offered). But I had never ski’d Beaver Creek or Vail so when an opportunity presented itself to go stay at The Westin Riverfront in Avon/ Beaver Creek, I jumped at the chance to get back on the slopes and to explore a new resort!

The Westin is one of my favorite hotel groups because of their dedication to health and wellness for travelers. Whether it’s the Peloton bikes in the fitness room, or the New Balance workout clothes rental, there are NO excuses for you not to move your body when you stay at a Westin.

We checked in and really only had a day and a half to truly enjoy the area, but we certainly made the most of our time. Our room was a spacious King Suite with views of the Rockies and a full kitchenette, but my favorite feature was the in room fireplace. You bet I cozied up to that every night, it was a truly delightful retreat.

Staying at The Westin Riverfront was actually the perfect destination for anyone who wants to ski in the area, but most especially for those wanting to ski Beaver Creek. On the property was a ski rental, a ski and boot storage facility, AND A GONDOLA directly to part of Beaver Creek mountain! We were able to leave our hotel pretty reasonably and get straight onto the mountain.

It was extra cold on the day that we ski’d Beaver Creek. We did a few easy runs before moving onto some of the more challenging ones, and overall the mountain was easy to navigate and enjoyable. On a scale of 1 to 10 comparing Beaver Creek to other mountains, it wasn’t my favorite, but the proximity of all of the other amenities made it worth it.

Beaver Creek/Avon where The Westin Riverfront is located is about a 15 min drive to Vail. And since we were planning a full day at Vail for the following day, we decided to explore Beaver Creek for Apres ski. We popped into two local spots that had high ratings. Out of the two, our favorite was Vin48, a super buzzy wine bar with the most delicious food and reasonably priced wine for happy hour that we were happy with our decision. After pigging out and getting reasonably drunk, it was only 7pm so we made our way back to the hotel to enjoy the hot tubs!

The night progressed as so: More wine, hot tubs, more wine, snacks, so many snacks, more wine, back to the room, fireplace on, and then settled into a nice deep slumber.

The Westin Riverfront has a restaurant on the property called Maya, it’s a Mexican style restaurant that offers a hearty or wholesome (depending on who you are) portion of breakfast a la a buffet. Theres a build your own omelette bar, but my eye was on the veggie hash, chicken sausage, and bread pudding. I tried to have SOME balance 🙂

The hotel offers shuttles to Vail, so we hopped on one of those post breakfast to get our ski on in Vail.

Holy hell this was the mecca for me, THIS is what a ski day should look and feel like. It was a Tuesday, the mountains were relatively empty compared to what I imagine it could have been. We were some of the first to hit the slopes that day, which made for an absolutely gorgeous day of skiing. The runs were good and strong, some a bit more challenging than Beaver Creek, but they were worth it. The thrill was there, and the views matched the level of excitement I was experiencing going down the mountain. This to me was my happy place, this is what I come to Colorado in search for. Those few moments of inhaling clean fresh mountain air, feeling a little ache in my stomach for fear of falling, and then just sending it down the mountain anyways.

We ski’d a long and full day at Vail, making it through most every single green run on the mountain and then some. By 3pm it was time to turn in our ski’s and trade them out for our apres ski boots.

Vail was what I was waiting for in terms of the food scene. Due to a big breakfast both days, we didn’t really end up eating lunch which was fine with us with all the alcohol and snacks we were consuming in between. Apres ski is something I’ve always participated in, it’s basically happy hour after a day on the mountain. But Apres ski in Vail is a whole other level of excellence.

We started the evening (at 4pm nonetheless) at Sweet Basil, one of Vail’s restaurant institutions. The space is gorgeous sitting on the second story of a street in Vail Village. The backside of the restaurant has a balcony that overlooks another part of the village and the river that runs through town. It’s definitely an upscale restaurant, but they’re trying to appeal more to the apres ski crowd and actually encourage you to come straight off the mountain, in your gear, and sit down for what I imagine to be one of the best apres ski settings.

Currently off menu but soon to be on menu is the cheeseburger, it was a piece of wonder and the perfect thing to sink my teeth into after a day of skiing. I never wanted eating it to end, it was exactly what I didn’t know I wanted. And they served it to me with a signature cocktail which happened to be a margarita… I didn’t know Sweet Basil was gonna be my kind of place, but it’s very clear now that it is. Whether you’re in the mood to dress up or come as you are, you can not go wrong with crossing this one off your list.

We tried to pace ourselves, by this point it was 6pm and we had reservations downstairs at sister restaurant Mountain Standard. This restaurant was described to us as a bit of a rowdy vibe compared to Sweet Basil and that’s just what it was. You walk in, the lights are dim, the kitchen is a clear shot from the front door, and all I saw were a whole bunch of people laughing and smiling over their meals. It was love at first sight and the night only got better from there.

We ordered so many things but all were excellent, don’t miss the biscuit and spicy jam and ham. You have to order the bone marrow and then follow it up with a shot served in the emptied bone. The salmon was one of their popular dishes, so we had that too. Blown away. The carrots, also spectacular. As you can see I really enjoyed everything. And as I type this I’m having a moment because the bread pudding dessert and most importantly the peppermint choco taco are forever impressed on my heart.

After dinner we didn’t last long, I’m pretty sure it was 8pm when we left, and I was in bed by 8:30 on a vacation night. But I was completely utterly and totally happy.

That is until I woke up at 6am because I had signed us up for a hotel group fitness workout at The Westin Riverfront gym at 6:15am. I am always impressed with my confidence for what I think I can accomplish and then my determination to complete the task nonetheless.

I am not going to lie, we were very very very hungover. But it was a great workout and EXACTLY what my tired body was craving. Movement! It was a circuit style class, which reminded us of Athletic Outcomes  (our home gym!) But I loved that they offered drop in classes for guests staying at the property ranging from HIIT to Pilates to Yoga. Plus if group fitness isn’t your thing, their fully equipped gym was a playground for any type of movement.

After our sweat sash, we made our way back to our room for one final fireplace hang while we packed our bags and made our way back to Denver to catch our flight.

It was a short but sweet experience and it was made so special thanks to The Westin Riverfront. I sincerely love staying Westin and always look forward to experiencing their hospitality in new cities as I explore. If you’ve done Beaver Creek or Vail, which do you prefer? And if you’ve never been, definitely add it to your list to check out!

Until next time, xoxo.