Gonna be in Colorado in March 2011
Looking for the best option for a group of both strong intermediates and some advanced skiers. Vail , I have heard has the acreage , but BC has the more modern facilties
Any other advice?
Unless the idea of heading to the lifts via an elevator suits you, I think you'll find Vail's facilities to be quite up to date, complete with underground parking and an extensive transportation system. BC does have free cookies sometimes though.
Go to both. Hit Vail on Monday through Thursday and BC on Friday - Sunday and you'll miss some of the crowds too. You should expect to see some lift lines even mid-week in March as its Spring Break, but you probably won't notice much in the way of crowds at all at BC.
Long time reader, first time poster!
Personally I'd stay in Frisco. Then you're in a good spot to hit up Breck, A Basin, Vail or BC, and still maybe make it to Keystone for some night skiing. Blue Sky Basin blows my mind every time, but the other places are great to check out too.
Can't really comment on staying in BC versus staying in Vail and I think any choice would depend on what's important to you on and off the slopes. Last year we spent a week staying in West Vail. The shuttle from the resort to Lions Head was quite efficient though we ended up doing quite a lot of walking in our boots. The skiing at Vail is huge. When you're at the top of Vail looking into the back bowls you feel like a little tiny speck. There's tons of terrain for intermediates/advanced skiers at Vail. Real experts seeking seeking a thrill seem to feel there's not much "pucker factor" terrain at Vail but vast amounts of terrain that should entertain most folks for a long time. After a week I was finally starting to feel like I was learning how to get around reasonably efficiently. Must be a 6-7 mile trek of lift rides and skiing out to Blue Sky Basin from Lions Head. Didn't really love the town of Vail. It has the highway running right through it, it's essentially a large modern resort that, IMO, lacks charm. No doubt that many of the lodging options in either the center of Vail Village or near Lions Head would offer a high level of luxury and convenience. We seem to gravitate more towards a casual atmosphere and our favorite night out was the evening we drove down for dinner at the Minturn Saloon. In March we stayed in Frisco and really loved it. Main street is charming with numerous casual dining and drinking options. Main street is segregated from the "suburban development" where there's a Walmart, Supermarket, pharmacies, fast food, etc. While in Frisco we skied one day at BC and enjoyed it. It's certainly smaller than Vail but offers very nice skiing. Otherwise we skied Breck, Keystone, and A-Basin. We drove to the mountains each day. Didn't ski Copper only because we had an Epic Pass. Copper would be very easy to ski from Frisco using the Summit Stage, Breck is reasonably convenient. From Frisco, skiing Keystone or A-Basin via the Summit Stage would probably be kind a pain. Had a good time at all 3. At the time Breck had the best snow and we really had a good time skiing there. A-Basin is really stunning but very high -- probably best on bluebird days. We walked around Main Street in Breckenridge and thought it was very attractive. Kind of like Main Street in Frisco on steroids.
More modern? There is nothing old fashioned about Vail, about the only more modern thing about BC is the heated parking garages and escalators to the slopes. Hit both along with Copper if you've got the days available.
How important is ski-in, ski-out to you? Also, how picky are you with your requirements for accommodations?
Vail and BC has much better higher-end accommodation offerings than any other resorts/towns in Summit or Eagle County. Vail is a great town, but a bit sprawling. It is also in general a little "older" -- some 60's buildings, but most upscale accommodations have gone through recent updates and renovations. The new Four Seasons should be opening in time for ski season this year. A Ritz-Carlton (Residence and Club) seems to be in development as well -- (I found out about it via little flyers on the project on the flights into EGE back in March and April......)
Then there's BC. The real BC is the part that are "behind the gates," the rest is the Town of Avon. The resort was developed around the same time as Blackcomb, circa early-mid 80's, and is one of the newest resorts in North America. It was envisioned as a true upscale community, much like a private gated golf community. The newest upscale hotel in BC is at the Bachelor Gulch part -- the Ritz-Carlton, and there's a lift that was built to serve this part of BC, although it gets you up to the other side of BC mountain. The best lodging in terms of location is Park Hyatt, as it is at the base of the main BC mountain -- this is my preferred property in Eagle County due to GREAT location and excellent all-around facilities -- from the ski valet you are only a few steps to the Centennial. The hotel has nice rooms, but the truly great accommodations are its upper end suites and 2 and 3 bedroom residence apartments -- it's in the wing called Residences at Park Hyatt Beaver Creek. The lunch special at the hotel restaurant (8100 Mountainside Grill) is the best deal in town -- for $12.
There is also a newly opened Westin (opened last season), but it is outside of the gates. The Westin has a newly built gondola just outside of its doors and the property also offers "Residences" which are 2+ bedroom apartments.
I second everyone else's recommendations - definitely ski both BC and Vail. The benefits to skiing BC is that it is not as crowded on weekends and there are often secret stashes in the trees -- they are often left untouched for many days after a storm!!! BC (and the crowd there) is in general more refined and tends to be favored by families with kids. The employees there are very courteous -- almost to a point of being overly accommodating. Vail, I don't need to elaborate further -- with its legendary back bowls and expansive terrain.