Fed-exing fresh fish daily from the sea to the Rocky Mountains is nothing unusual in these parts and Hooked – a cosy, crowded nook in the Beaver Creek village – orders in a menu of seafood way bigger than the venue itself. Watch the sushi chefs at work while you sip on a cocktail. There is house-made pasta and familiar surf and turf options available however the signature experience here is to select your favourite seafood then choose from two dozen different ways to cook it. A strong Asian theme runs through the flavours, with overtones of miso, coconut and lemongrass and chilli.
Also in Beaver Creek is Spago, a satellite of Wolfgang Puck’s celebrity-adorned outfit in Beverley Hills – it’s mandatory here to order the famous tuna tartar served in house made cones. (It’s also known for its pear martinis). One of the marque restaurants in the recently updated Ritz Carlton hotel, it’s modern American plus a dash of Colorado man food thanks to the local bison, which is particularly loved by Texan guests who holiday here. No doubt ditto goes for the hotel’s new late-night man cave, Buffalos, where you can suck on a hookah if cigars don’t do it for you and watch sport on the big screen til late. Twenty million was spent on renovating the stone-and-log hotel last year, which really has the concept of cosy luxe more than covered.
Dining on the Beaver Creek mountain doesn’t get much better than Zach’s Cabin. There may be Siberian caviar here, but this is a dining experience that is almost more about the journey than the destination. Transport to your table half way up the mountain is via an open-air sleigh from Bachelor’s Gulch. Work up an appetite as you climb 1000 feet in an eight-minute ride while sitting under moonlight, twinkling constellations and warm blankets. Exclusive members-only club by day and restaurant-for-anyone by night, fire-lit Zach’s is open only in the season between December and March and serves elk, foie gras and fed-exed fresh fish from the Mediterranean no less. It’s such a memorable and unique experience, to go across the world from Australia or New Zealand and not do this would be just silly. Book months before you go and start saving.
The same goes for The 10th restaurant on the mountain in Vail. This uber swish ski-in, ski-out fine diner is booked up to 90 days in advance, and it’s easy to see why. Sore feet? Walk this way, lose the ski boots and tuck your toes into fluffy slippers while you dine. Helmet hair? Never fear, have a zjoosh before you sit down with the hair dryers, free brushes and styling products. Mod American with a twist of French, Swiss and Italian alpine dishes, the four year-old venue also has a more casual bar food area and terrace for sunny days. Buffalo elk makes another appearance, as do pies and pizzas and a thoughtful kids’ menu. Sunset drinks are popular with the fit, monied and perfectly-coiffed crowd, which doesn’t detract from its daytime family friendliness.
For those who truly believe bowling should never be attempted without first ordering a cocktail, Bol in Vail is just the ticket. This is glamour bowling the likes of which has not been seen in the southern hemisphere as it comes with one of America’s official best bartenders, five-star food, thrilling big screen extreme ski videos and the hitherto unachieved feat of providing stylish bowling shoes. Dine in the lanes, at the bar or in the restaurant. Select your tipple from a 400-bottle wine list. Hearty tradition (Indian lamb curry, short rib stroganoff) meets elegant modern (quinoa crusted tofu, carpaccio).
Opening its doors in 1962, The Lodge at Vail was Vail’s first hotel and for primo position, it doesn’t get much better than this. Smack bang in the middle of all the buzzy bars, restaurants and shops in the car-free village, the vintage lodge look was retained when the public spaces were renovated last year. Country classics on guitars in the bar follow hot tubs and heavenly hot chocolate in the fire-lit foyer. This classic ski in ski out hotel also has one of the best day spas in all of Vail. Our roomy deluxe king room with balcony overlooking the snow was priced at around $500 per night. Two storey chalets with up to six bedrooms go for between $1500 and $6000 a night depending on the time of year.
Located a 20-minute private, heated bus ride from the family-friendly village of Beaver Creek, in a cluster of lodges and hotels known as Bachelor’s Gulch. This is where you will get your fix of mountain serenity. Gated and private, luxurious and exclusive, Snow Cloud has a mix of one to four bedroom condos with gourmet kitchens, spacious living areas and large bathrooms with tubs. All guests have access to the outdoor pool and hot tub at the Ritz Carlton next door as well as entry to its spa for a fee. Only steps away from the Bachelor Gulch Express Lift, Snow Cloud Lodge is 15 minutes away from Vail by free shuttle bus.