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Thanks to its fantastic ski area, glamorous Aspen offers on-piste action for all types of skiers and boarders...
A former mining town, Aspen has held on to its wild west architecture and acquired the kind of shops, restaurants, galleries and bars most cities would kill for. Why has all this happened in the middle of Colorado? Simple: because the skiing (and snowboarding) in Aspen is superb.
Resort height: 2,422m
The skiing in Aspen is split between four self-contained mountains, ranged along the south side of the Roaring Fork Valley. Three of them - Ajax, Highlands and Buttermilk - are all within sight of one another. The fourth, Snowmass, is 12 miles west, and is technically a different ski resort altogether.
No one really thinks of it in that way, however, and the pleasure comes from sampling all four in the course of a visit - especially the ones in the middle, Highlands and Buttermilk, which are usually deserted. Ski them in the middle of the week, with the sun out and soft, grippy snow beneath your skis, and every minute of the long journey to get there will seem worthwhile.
What's more, there's terrain to suit everyone in Aspen - tree-skiing moguls, a huge terrain park, and a bowl (at the top of Highlands) where the pitch of the ski slopes is as much as 45 degrees. But the people who will enjoy Aspen most are the intermediate skiers - as far as this correspondent is concerned, there's no finer place on the planet for them to ski.
Of course, if you've got your own Lear Jet - it's a piece of cake. Aspen has its own airport, 20 minutes out of town...
Mere mortals tend to head for Denver and change planes there - or else jump on a three-hour transfer.
Aspen is a great winter playground whatever your level, but intermediates in particular will love this resort...
It should definitely be a contender if you are considering a ski holiday in North America.
There's plenty of fun to be had in Aspen once the sun goes down, while non-skiers will appreciate the shops and spas...
Few places can match Aspen for high-end drinking and dining. The Sky Bar at the Sky Hotel is where everyone goes before dinner - and the place is rammed in all but the quietest weeks. Dress up, keep your ears open and give the evening time to develop: you could well end up talking to someone very interesting!
Dinner in Aspen, meanwhile, brings a mind-boggling array of choices - the range of high-quality restaurants is unparalleled in skiing. Takah Sushi has some of the best sushi in town, while for a gastronomic splurge there's Element 47 in the Little Nell hotel.
Aspen is the perfect place for a non-skiing partner. Superb spas, yoga centres, sleigh rides, dog-sledding, celeb spotting and Bond-Street style shopping are all part of Aspen life. Plus, of course, just hanging out amid such ludicrous affluence is a spectator sport in its own right. In many ways an Aspen holiday is the ultimate bribe to be offered to a non-skiing wife, husband or partner.
Cost of living 9/10
You could spend a small fortune on a ski holiday in Aspen: and over Christmas and New Year people frequently do. But it needn't be quite so astronomical. Stay in a B&B, condominium (self-catering apartment) or a catered chalet run by a British tour operator, and you can cut the cost dramatically.
Attractiveness of the resort 8/10
Snowmass, at the other end of the ski area, also has accommodation but the main town is the place to base yourself for the full Aspen effect (unless you've got small children). Together, the combination of handsome 19th-century buildings, posh shops and snowy mountains is a potent one.