Colorado Getaways: Vail Valley & Beaver Creek

Red Sky Golf Club - Norman Course
Red Sky Golf Club – Norman Course

In Wolcott, West of Vail, the private Red Sky Ranch & Golf Club offers alternate-day resort access to its premier Tom Fazio- and Greg Norman-designed courses. The Norman is the more challenging of the two layouts, but both will test your green-reading ability. To get help, visit Red Sky Golf Academy, directed by former PGA Tour golfer Larry Rinker. It features an extensive putting and short-game area as well as  full-swing analysis using state-of-the-art video analysis. Red Sky offers stay-and-play packages at more than 30 Vail-area lodging partners.

Rock Your Room

The Arrabelle at Vail Square
The Arrabelle at Vail Square

OLD-WORLD CHARM endures at The Arrabelle at Vail Square, where timeless European elegance meets all the conveniences of modern life, including a spa and rooftop pool, in the heart of Vail. Lodging options range from 81 plush rooms and suites with fireplaces and bespoke appointments to 22 luxury residences with jet tubs and upto five bedrooms. Want more rooms or privacy? The Arrabelle also features premier chalets and private homes for those desiring one-of-a-kind accommodations and seclusion.

Sixty cozy guest rooms with rich pine touches, oversized beds and luxurious linens await at The Pines Lodge at Beaver Creek. In-room botanical spa massages add to the experience, as does dinner at The Pines’ celebrated Grouse Mountain Grill, where superb cuisine and an extensive wine list come with equally sublime views.

A chic option is The Osprey at Beaver Creek, an intimate 45-room boutique hotel mixng clean, modern designs and sophisticated alpine décor. Its Osprey Lounge serves tapas and cocktails, while the Grill spans the gastronomic gamut—from truffle fries to elk tenderloin. A steam room, hot tub and pool complete the package.

Stay and Eat

ELIGIBLE BACHELOR: Tucked between Beaver Creek and Arrowhead, The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch cossets guests with 180 spacious rooms and suites, indulgent bedding and glorious views. Its 21,000-square-foot spa boasts 19 treatment rooms, a luxurious manicure/pedicure salon and a custom- curated spa menu. Tee times at Red Sky Golf Club, personalized naturalist programs, fly-fishing and river rafting are all right outside.

Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch
Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch

GET BUFFALOED: “Refined but relaxed” describes the Ritz-Carlton’s dining options: Buffalos dishes Colorado specialties; Daniel’s serves barbecue-smoked meats; and everyone seems to love the mix of foods at The Grill.

Club at Cordillera

DINE HAUTE: Located in Red Sky Golf Club’s Member Clubhouse, Silver Sage Restaurant opens to nonmembers daily after 5 pm.

Managed by Troon
as part of its Troon Privé network, The Club at Cordillera ranks as Colorado’s most extensive golf property. Its 7,000 acres feature a trio of championship 18-hole courses—Valley (designed by Tom Fazio), Mountain (Hale Irwin) and Summit (Jack Nicklaus)—that traverse three distinct microclimates, climbing from 7,100 to 9,200 feet above sea level. Each course has its own clubhouse and restaurant. Troon now also manages the nine-hole Dave Pelz Short Course, a perky par-27 unlike any executive course you’ve played.

Eat and Learn

AFTER A ROUND at any of Cordillera’s three courses, you don’t have to go far for a scrumptious meal. The Valley, Mountain and Summit courses each has its own fine-dining experience: The Chaparral (Valley) TimberHearth (Mountain) and Summit (Summit).

Spanish for “ViewPOINT,” Mirador overlooks the Sawatch range from the lobby of the Lodge and Spa at Cordillera. The AAA four-diamond restaurant sources produce and meat from local farms and ranches to deliver haute farm-to-fork experiences along with great wine selections.

Mirador Cordillera

SCORE BETTER by attending short game guru Dave Pelz’s Scoring School, which will return to Cordillera this August with one-, two- and three-day clinics, each focusing on different aspects of the scoring aspects of the game: putting, chipping, pitching, wedge and sand play. Students can arrange stage at the Lodge & Spa at Cordillera.

Stay and Play

LUXE LODGING: Inspired by a Belgian chateau, the 56-room Lodge and Spa at Cordillera perches on a mountaintop above the magnificent Vail Valley and Sawatch Range. Amenities include an award-winning spa, indoor/outdoor pool and hot tubs, private Orvis-guided fly-fishing on the Eagle River and exclusive access to all four Cordillera courses.

STOP AND SEE THE FLOWERS: Covering five acres with nearly 3,000 alpine species, the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens aims to be “the premier alpine botanical garden in the world” by presenting and preserving species of trees, plants and flowers indigenous to alpine, high-alpine and other fragile mountain environments around the world, including the Himalays. Located in Ford Park on the South Frontage Road.

Betty Ford Alpine Gardens
Betty Ford Alpine Gardens

Designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., Beaver Creek Golf Club bobs and weaves along tight fairways and across rushing creeks and streams, beginning with a downhill plunge and climbing back at the end. The course only allows nonmember play before June 15 and after September 16. That is, unless you’re a lodging guest at one of the dozens of Beaver Creek, Bachelor Gulch or Arrowhead properties. Stay-and-play packages start at $199 and get snapped up fast.

Beaver Creek Golf Club
Beaver Creek Golf Club

Eat and Drink

You Don’t Have to be a member to dine at the private Country Club of the Rockies in Edwards, home of the elegant Vista at Arrowhead, where nightly performances by Micky “Piano Man” Poage accompany impeccable Colorado Cuisine.

Vistas at Arrowhead
Vistas at Arrowhead

Craft beer fans can now down pints and eat grub at Vail Brewing Company ( in Avon as well as Vail. In Edwards, Crazy Mountain Brewing (—which

recently took over the Breckenridge Brewing’s Kalamath space in Denver—doubles as a crazy pub, while another Edwards spot, Gore Range Brewing (gorerangebrewery.compours only sublime suds.

CELEBRATE THE OLD  West with steaks, wild game, seafood and a custom kid’s menu. More than a restaurant, SaddleRidge is a living museum with frontier artifacts such as Buffalo Bill’s desk and General Custer’s hat and canteen.

Stay and Play

HIGH LIFE: Mountain adventures await at the 190-room Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and Spa. The perfect base for days of golf, hikes, rafting, fly-fishing, bike riding or just chilling, the hotel features dining at 8100 Mountainside Bar & Grill,

Park Hyatt Beaver Creek
Park Hyatt Beaver Creek

s’mores from outdoor fire pit, swimming, hot tubs and 30,000-square-foot Allegria Spa.

KICK THE TIRES: Membership sales are going gangbusters at Frost Creek Club, which blows up the conventional club model by offering on-property access to every imaginable mountain activity—from mountain biking to fly-fishing to archery to glamping—as well as a Jeep to explore the surrounding wilderness. Take a peek during a stay in one of five luxury cabins and a round on the Tom Weiskopf-designed course.

Fun in the Sonn

The renowned Sonnenalp Hotel epitomizes
the mix of alpine adventure and timeless European elegance that sets Vail apart. Its intimately elegant lobby exudes hospitality, as does its Bully Ranch Restaurant and King’s Club bar. Having recently completed upgrades to its historic spa and guestrooms, the Bavarian-inspired resort has also burnished stay-and-play deals at its semi-private Sonnenalp Club—the 7,074-yard, par-71 layout located 15 minutes west of the hotel that twice hosted the Colorado Open. Starting at $555 for a one-round-per-one-night stay, guests also get 50% off on an additional round the same day and other perks. 

Sonnenalp Hotel
Sonnenalp Hotel

ALL VAIL is buzzing about Sonnenalp Club’s spanking new, 14,000-square-foot Health and Fitness facility with the floor-to-ceiling glass windows overlooking the Bob Cupp-Jay Morrish-designed golf course and what seems like the entire Vail Valley. The center brilliantly complements the club’s new restaurant, Harvest by Kelly Liken. She is the celebrity chef whose namesake Vail restaurant remains one 0f the valley’s toughest tables to get.

Sonnenalp Club
Sonnenalp Club

Priority Vail

FIRST COURSE: Opened 53 years ago on the village’s eastern edge, the municipal Vail Golf Club pioneered the game in the high country. At 6,740 yards, it remains one of the few truly walkable mountain layouts, though carts and golf bikes add speed and fun to any round. The enforced 4:07 pace of play keeps things moving. Construction of the new clubhouse is on pace for completion at the end of the golf season. Its $11 million price tag has already exceeded the $4 million budgeted, but in the words of Mayor Dave Chapin, “This is Vail. We need a world-class facility. It’s what our guests expect.”

GET JAZZED: From now until September 8, the Vail Jazz Festival will provide the soundtrack to the Town of Vail. Five distinctive series will take place at four different venues, each offering unmatched intimacy and the chance to rub shoulders with legends of jazz history.

EN POINTE: From July 30 to August 13, the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater hosts performances of the Vail International Dance Festival and this year’s Artist-in-Residence, Isabella Boylston of the AmericanBallet Theatre.

Swinging and Savoring

27 HOLES AND A FOOTNOTE: Ten minutes east of Vail, in a mountainside carved by the Eagle River,  lies EagleVail Golf Club, a Bruce Devlin/Robert Van Haage design with six along the river holes, six through a neighborhood  and six up the mountain—including the 197-yard 10th, which plunges 185 feet from tee to green. For kicks, try FootGolf at EagleVail’s 9-hole par-3 Willow Creek course. How hard could it be to kick a 8.65-inch soccer ball into a 21-inch diameter cup? The same as hitting a 1.68-inch golf ball into 4.25-inch diameter hole. The ratios are identical.

SAVOR VAIL: For those who see the world food-first, the three-hour, walking Vail Valley Food Tour combines eating delicious, gourmet cuisine with the fun lunch activity of learning about Vail’s history and people. Tickets are $85 ($115 with alcohol pairings). The company also offers a taxied craft-brewery tour from 3 to 6 Thursdays and Fridays ($65-$95).

NICE OUTFIT: Satisfy your outdoor appetites without lugging the gear. Sage Outdoor Adventures? The Vail outfitter offers whitewater rafting on the Arkansas, Eagle and Colorado rivers; Can-Am ATVing the Castle Peak Wilderness Area; horseback trips into the Vail backcountry; and sporting clays with lessons, gear and 12-station range.

Mountain Biking in Vail
Mountain Biking in Vail

Bicycle Kicks

Gondola One in Vail Village and Eagle Bahn in Lionshead deliver you and your fat-tired friend to a latticework of 10 on-mountain trails ranging in difficulty from green to blue, and seven highly technical, freeride trails that only experienced, properly equipped and padded riders should attempt. Gondolas run daily through Labor Day, then on Fri.-Sun. until October 2. Get rates, trail maps and more at

Almost 60 miles of paved recreational bike paths ribbon through Eagle County. For an easy to moderate road ride, the paved Vail Recreation Path runs along the banks of Gore Creek in Vail and stretches through the Vail Valley. Winding down from East Vail, the path crosses through Vail Village and then continues west down the valley through Dowd Junction, then onto Avon and Edwards. For more of a challenge try the Vail Pass path. The trail is 8.7 miles, stretching from East Vail to the top of Vail Pass with the elevation gain of 1831 feet. More advanced cyclists prefer riding US 24 to Leadville and US 6 near Wolcott, just minutes from Vail.

Epic Discovery Ziplines
Epic Discovery Ziplines

On the Move

Want to know where the fish are biting? For more than 35 years, Gore Creek Fly Fishermen have guided first-timers and seasoned pros to the best spots on Gore Creek and the Eagle and Colorado rivers. From half-day wades on small intimate waters to full-day floats down the mighty Colorado and everything in between, your guide can customize your trip.

Zip, Flop fly. You and your kids can do these and more at Epic Discovery on Vail Mountain. An Ultimate Adventure Pass ($89) to the ultimate playground includes everything from the Golden Eagle Zipline to the Gore Range Adventure Course to Eagle’s Nest Tubing, the Forest Flyer, Bungee Trampoline and Marmot Mini Tubing.

LIKE TO HIKE? Vail’s well-marked trail network can take you deep into the wilderness, past waterfalls and across streams, often culminating at beautiful lakes. The 10-mile Eagle Valley Regional Trail runs the length of the valley. Download a map at

Gypsum Creek Golf Course
Gypsum Creek Golf Course

Golf and Go

High Cotton: Located 35 miles west of Vail, Gypsum Creek Golf Course may hold the key to growing the game: Fun Free Fridays. From 6 to 8pm, newbies can spend two hours learning the fundamentals in a free-spirited atmosphere. Also fun is the course once known as Cotton Ranch, which has since flipped its original Pete Dye-designed routing, building up to the more dramatic holes (the current island-greened 14th, mesa-topping 611-yard 15th and  straight-downhill 164-yard 17th). Gypsum Creek’s southern-style clubhouse features the fare of the Creekside Grill.

IN CONCERT: Beaver Creek’s Vilar Performing Arts Center never fails to bring out the stars. Among this summer’s performers: Neko Case/k.d.lang/ Laura Viers (July9), Robert Cray (July 18), Boz Scaggs (July 20), Mark Cohn (July 24), Chris Isaak (Aug. 7), Keb’ Mo’ (Aug13) and Michael McDonald (Aug. 27).

RIDE ’EM: On Thursday nights through Aug. 11, you can thrill to bronc and bull riding, team roping and barrel racing at the 15th Annual Beaver Creek Rodeo Series. Arrive early so the kids can try mutton bustin;, burro racing and the calf scramble.

This article appears in the July 2016 issue of Colorado AvidGolfer.

Colorado AvidGolfer is the state’s leading resource for golf and the lifestyle that surrounds it, publishing eight issues annually and proudly delivering daily content via Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.


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