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Business Hours -- The following are general open hours; specific establishment may vary. Businesses and offices are open from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. Banks' hours are usually Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm; Saturday, 10am to 1pm. Some banks may be closed on weekends, but most offer 24-hour access to ATMs. Shops' operating hours are likely to be daily from 10am to 6pm. Most bars and nightclubs close at 2am. Ski resorts in the area, including Vail, tend to run from 9am to 4pm, with some offering nighttime skiing.

Electricity -- The U.S. uses 110 to 120 volts AC (60 cycles), compared to 220 to 240 volts AC (50 cycles) in most of Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.

Emergencies -- Call tel. 911 for emergencies, fire, ambulance, or police.

Internet Access -- Free Internet access is available at the Avon Public Library, 200 Benchmark Rd. (tel. 970/949-6797). Loaded Joe's coffee shop, 82 E. Beaver Creek Blvd. #104 (tel. 970/748-1480) offers free Wi-Fi to its customers. Many hotels offer Wi-Fi to guests for free or at a nominal charge. If you aren't bringing your laptop with you, know that many hotels offer business centers with internet access.

Liquor Laws -- The legal age to purchase and consume alcoholic beverages in the U.S. is 21; proof of age is required at bars, nightclubs, and restaurants, so bring ID when you go out. Beer, wine, and hard liquor can be purchased at liquor stores. Do not carry open containers of alcohol in your car of any public area that isn't zoned for alcohol consumption. Driving while intoxicated is considered a criminal offense.

Mail -- At press time, domestic postage rates were 27¢ for a postcard and 42¢ for a letter. For international mail, first-class postcards and letters weighing up to 1 ounce cost 94¢ (72¢ to Canada and Mexico). You can buy stamps and mailing supplies at any post office; to find locations in Avon, call 800/275-8777 or go to www.usps.com.

Newspapers & Magazines -- The local papers are the Vail Daily (www.vaildaily.com) and the Vail Trail (www.vailtrail.com).

Pets -- To bring your pet to Avon, you must have a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) for your pet supplied by a state-license veterinarian. Most airlines allow pets on flights, but require pets to be at least eight weeks old. Some Avon hotels, such as the Comfort Inn Beaver Creek (tel. 970/949-5511), are pet-friendly.

Police -- For emergencies, dial tel. 911. This is a free call. The Avon Police Department can be reach at tel. 970/748-4040.

Safety -- Avon is a very safe area and has a crime rate significantly below the national average. Still, it doesn't hurt to take the usual common-sense precautions: Avoid deserted areas, especially at night, and don't venture into public parks after dark unless a concert or similar event is attracting crowds.

Smoking -- Smoking is prohibited in public places and most places of employment, including restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. Smoking in private workplaces, however, is restricted but not banned.

Taxes -- Hotel rooms are subject to a 12.5% tax. Sales tax is 4%. In the U.S., there is no value-added tax (VAT) or other indirect tax at the national level.

To Make International Calls -- To dial international numbers, dial 011, then the country code, then the phone number. The telephone system in the U.S. is run by private corporations, so rates, especially for long-distance service and operator-assisted calls, can vary widely. Generally, hotel surcharges on long-distance and local calls are remarkably expensive, so you're usually better off using a public pay telephone or a cell phone if you have one with you. Many groceries and convenience stores sell prepaid calling cards; this can be the least expensive way to call overseas.

Time Zone -- Colorado is in the Mountain Time Zone, which puts it 7 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT-7).

Tipping -- Gratuities are not usually included in rates. Here are guidelines to follow when tipping: In hotels, tip bellhops at least $1 per piece of luggage and the housekeeping staff $1 per person per day (more if you've left a mess). Tip the doorman or concierge if he or she has provided you with a service, such as calling a cab or obtaining hard-to-get tickets. Tip the parking attendant 15% of the parking rate. Cab drivers should get at least 15% of the fare. In restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, tip wait staff 15% to 20% of the check, bartenders 10% to 15%, and checkroom attendants $1 per garment. Skycaps at airports generally get at least $1 per bag, while hairdressers expect 15% to 20%.

Water -- Avon's tap water is considered safe to drink.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.