Vail’s little sister, Beaver Creek, is the pricier version of Vail and one of the most upmarket resorts in the USA. The chalets and luxury stores around town attest to the wealthy folks attracted to Beaver Creek.
Owned and operated by Vail Resorts, Beaver Creek is altogether much smaller, quieter and gentler on the knees than Vail. That, of course, may appeal to certain seasonal workers and you may just come to enjoy the heated walkways, sophisticated bars, lack of crowds and fresh cookies handed out at the end of each day. You are also much more likely to spot a celebrity here than just about anywhere in Colorado bar Aspen.
Photo: Powder at Beaver Creek
Beaver Creek is located in Eagle County, Colorado, around two and a half hours drive west of Denver (112 miles), just off the I-70 highway. It is around 20 minutes’ drive from Vail.
The town of Avon is 10 minutes down the hill from Beaver Creek and is a proper mountain town with a year-round population and accompanying amenities such as supermarkets and pharmacies.
If not driving, the best and easiest way to get to Beaver Creek is to take the Colorado Mountain Express. This shuttle service goes straight from Denver Airport to Beaver Creek and costs about $100, although employees get free transportation.
Photo: A groomer at Beaver Creek - Vail Resorts
Beaver Creek is a small resort town comprising apartments, restaurants, chalets and a number of high-end shops. It is quaint, clean and expensive and markets itself as providing an upscale experience to holiday-makers. It is much more intimate than Vail and lacks the crowds and lift queues.
There is a beautiful ambience at Beaver Creek, nestled as it is among the Colorado pines but it is certainly a quieter mountain town than Vail without much après-ski.
Most staff live in Avon. Nights out are usually in Avon, at a house party or at a bar, or around Vail up the road. However, Beaver Creek is a lot quieter than Vail in terms of the party scene. Also, since Avon is quite spread out, staff tend to hang out mostly with people in their department (lifts, retail etc.).
The nightlife in Avon is decent but most seasonal workers mix it up during the season at other towns including Vail and Frisco in Summit County.
Beaver Creek staff are mostly Americans, though there are usually a handful of Argentinians and Chileans.
Being a little further out from Denver than many other Colorado resorts contributes to the smaller crowds at Beaver Creek. This is good for getting straight onto the slopes for days off work.
Beaver Creek has mostly intermediate terrain with plenty of groomed cruisers. As the resort aims principally at families, the runs are very well manicured and mostly wide-open. Almost half the runs on the mountain are rated as intermediate and grooming machines are running virtually 24/7. Seasonal workers who love cruising will enjoy the Beav.
At just 1,815 acres (734 hectares), Beaver Creek is reasonably small by Colorado standards.
Expert terrain is fairly light on at Beaver Creek with just a few areas where experts can test their mettle. The black diamond and double diamond areas are mostly on-piste and often covered in moguls. All the runs at Beaver Creek are below the tree line which means nothing in the way of the big rocky lines famous at other Colorado resorts like Crested Butte.
There are, however, a few nice tree runs for experts around Grouse Mountain. Stone Creek also has a few chutes, mini cliffs and steep pitches but the runs are very short.
Fortunately, working at Beaver Creek means you also get a season pass to Vail, Keystone and Breckenridge (all owned by Vail) as well as Arapahoe Basin. Vail is a free bus ride about 20 minutes away from Avon, using the Eagle County bus services, while you need a car to get to Keystone and Breckenridge which are about 45 minutes away.
Photo: Snowmaking at Beaver Creek - Austin Day, Vail Resorts
These three resorts are all excellent resorts to carve up during the season with tons of expert terrain. Most expert riders working at Beaver Creek will spend a large amount of their season at these resorts. Arapahoe Basin is a small resort around one hour and 15 minutes away with a few nice hiking lines.
Over the course of the season, see if you can find the hidden huts built by lift operators among the trees at Beaver Creek!
For such an upmarket resort, you wouldn’t expect great terrain parks but the features available are actually extremely good. The features are spread over three parks. Park 101 has beginner features, Zoom Room has intermediate features including boxes, logs and 20ft-30ft jumps, while The Rodeo is the expert park including 40ft-60ft jumps.
Photo: The World Cup downhill event is held each year on the Birds of Prey run at Beaver Creek - Jack Affleck, Vail Resorts
Beaver Creek is blessed with awesome Colorado weather which includes 300 days of sunshine per year. You tend to see smaller dumps and sunny days in between and about seven true powder days a season if it's good.
Average snowfall is 325in (7.87 meters). The north-facing aspect of the mountain helps to retain some of the snow quality; however, Beaver Creek is the second lowest base area in Colorado (after Steamboat) and the resort does rely heavily on snow-making.
From March onward, spring skiing has some of the best riding of the season which is a good reason to work out the season.
Beaver Creek is owned by Vail Resorts. All employment for the resort goes through jobs.vailresorts.com/. Jobs are posted around late summer or early fall. You can apply for up to five positions at a time.
For a description of ski resort jobs see Jobs Available at Ski Resorts.
Beaver Creek is less popular to work at than other Vail Resorts; however they still receive plenty of applications so get in early.
Vail Resorts also owns a number of rental and retail shops in town at which you might find a job. Vail Resorts Retail and Beaver Creek Sports. In rentals, you could normally expect 4 or 5 shifts per week and up to 6 during busy periods such as Christmas. You could either work morning shift (7.30 - 1), split shift (7.30 - 11 and 4 - 8) or night (1 - 8).
Minimum wage in Colorado is USD 8.23 per hour. Most jobs will pay around this. However, tips for all jobs for hospitality to instructing are generally better at Beaver Creek due to the richer clientele
H2B visas are difficult to obtain in the current labor market unless you have a specialized skill such as ski instructing. However, Vail Resorts takes on foreigners each season through partner J-1 visa companies.
See Work a Winter Season in the United States for more information on work visas to the U.S. and job programs for ski resorts.
For Australians - If you obtain a J-1 visa yourself through a J-1 visa company, then you may be able to get a job with Beaver Creek through normal hiring processes.
Vail Resorts partners with the following J-1 visa companies
Avon is the best place to live as a seasonal employee. It has a Safeway, Walmart and everywhere else to buy cheap food and gear for your place as well as the best nightlife in the area. Avon is around a 10 minute bus ride up to the mountain to get to work.
There is no seasonal accommodation on the mountain.
Staff accommodation for Beaver Creek is ‘The Tarnes’. It is located down in Avon, between East and West parking lots, and on a bus route which makes getting into work easy. Single bed places are $475 a month rent while a shared bed place starts at $330 a month. Compared to staff accommodation at other resorts in Colorado, it is relatively modern and clean.
Photo: Grooming at Beaver Creek - Jack Affleck, Vail Resorts
Each place has a living room with couches and chairs. You will need to buy your own appliances such as TVs and microwaves though fridges and dishwashers are installed. The Wal-Mart 3 miles down the road is the best place to stock up on early season supplies and can be accessed by bus.
If you are not in staff accommodation, the Vail Daily newspaper is a good local paper to start looking for housing in Avon and surrounds. Craigslist Rockies is another good place to start looking for accommodation.
Other places to live include Edwards or Eagle-Vail, both of which are cheaper than Avon. Edwards is about 30 minutes away and Eagle-Vail is about 20 minutes away. Edwards and Eagle-Vail have less bars and places to go out and are for those seeking a quieter season.
Avon.org has local information on the town of Avon.
You should definitely look for a shared place. Living alone costs around $1000 - $1500 a month. You could expect to pay $600 - $700 a month per person per room in a shared house.