Regular readers know that two essential components of my ideal getaway are outdoor activity and a pampering spa treatment. (After all, what better way to treat yourself after hiking, biking, swimming or skiing than with a steam and a rubdown?) Yesterday, with a group of fellow travel writers visiting Beaver Creek, Colorado (just 90 minutes from my mountain home), I enjoyed the perfect blend of exercise and R&R.
While I regularly explore Colorado hiking trails on my own, I absolutely see the value in joining a group tour or hiring a experienced guide to lead the way on unfamiliar paths, especially if you’re visiting from out of state. We met up with Nick Fickling, a legendary hiking guide and ski instructor in these parts, who shared his wealth of knowledge about the area’s flora and fauna for our 3-hour hike on lower Beaver Creek Mountain. Our moderately paced trek took us through aspen groves, across ski runs and along maintenance roads on the mountain that looms above Beaver Creek Village.
Nick works out of the Beaver Creek Hiking Center, which offers not only our scheduled morning hike, but also day-long, more remote Colorado Adventure Hikes, as well as trips to the top of Colorado’s famous “fourteeners” (14,000-foot peaks), historic excursions that include a hike, picnic and driving tour, as well as nordic/fitness walking trips that promise to get your blood pumping.
The Hiking Center provides the use of Salomon day packs and hiking boots, Leki hiking poles, rain gear, bottled water, Gatorade and granola bars; prices vary depending on the length of the adventure — our privately guided morning hike was $60 a person. This fee may sound steep, but, again, for out-of-state visitors who do not know the area or who may not be avid hikers, I think it’s a smart way to spend some vacation cash: no need to pack gear (making your luggage lighter and potentially avoiding those pesky extra baggage fees), plus the guides we met are extremely personable and so knowledgeable about the entire Beaver Creek area, its history and its ecology.
Flash foward to our afternoon activity: treatments at the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek’s Allegria Spa. This 30,000-square-foot full-service spa, salon and fitness center was totally remodeled (to the tune of $12 million) in 2006. It absolutely ranks among Colorado’s best spas. Aqua Sanitas, a self-guided water ritual, included in the price for any body treatment. Along the “healing waters” journey, you’ll soothe sore muscles in two different hot tubs, step under a refreshing rainshower, sweat in spruce-scented steam room (my favorite step by far, with its iridescent tiles and twinkling overhead lights), and relax on heated lounges.
My spa service — a Balancing Hot Oil Wrap — combined a full body massage with warm oil and hot stones, and a wrap (to seal in the oil for optimum moisturizing) with a neck and scalp massage. At $230 a pop, this is no everyday treatment, but I cannot recommend it enough for an extra-special treat. (If you like a firm touch, ask for Eli.) My fellow travel writers also spoke highly of their services, which included a Warm Milk & Honey Sugar Scrub (yep, real Colorado honey drizzled on your body) and the Ginger Peach Cure.
Still more highlights of our two-night stay in Beaver Creek:
Kinesis fitness class at The Club at Allegria Spa. Kinesis is a full-body workout on a wall cable-and-pulley system that allows users more range of motion than typical dumbbells or strength-training equipment. It’s a wonderfully fast-paced, set-to-music class that really does hit all muscle groups. (I wish this was offered in my neck of the woods; many gyms have the piece of $40,000 equipment, but mine does not!)
Al fresco lunch at the Beaver Creek Chophouse. You can’t miss the bright red umbrellas on the patio at the base of Beaver Creek Mountain. The fish tacos and Tuscan-style grilled chicken sandwich both got a big thumb’s up.
Dinner at Splendido, one of Beaver Creek’s highest-end eateries with a sophisticated atmosphere and a menu to match (think $35 entrees, such as Pan Roasted Rabbit, Prosciutto Wrapped Alaskan Halibut and Roasted Elk Loin). For my personal pocketbook, Splendido is absolutely a special-occasion restaurant. If you’re there when the lobster special is offered — stuffed with Yukon gold mashed potatoes, with the claws removed and roasted in butter — order it.
Overnight at The Osprey, a Rock Resort. This intimate, boutique property has 41 rooms, and was totally remodeled in 2008. It’s a stone’s throw from the plaza in Beaver Creek Village, and winter guests will appreciate its proximity to the chair-lift — The Osprey is actually the closest ski-in/ski-out hotel to a property in all of North America. Learn more about this oustanding Beaver Creek hotel in this online piece about the Osprey I wrote this winter.