Easy-going Vail boasts lively nightlife, wide pistes that are perfect for cruising, and plenty of fun for non-skiers...
Many Brits who come to Vail for a ski holiday are blown away by the quality of the intermediate skiing here and the positive, can-do attitude: so much so that they won't be bothered in the slightest that a six-lane freeway runs right through the bottom of the Vail valley.
Resort height: 2,475m
Jump onto Vail's fast and efficient ski lift system, and you quickly leave the freeway behind - entering a world of wide and fast groomers (as the Americans like to call their pistes) which are purpose-built to make you feel good about your skiing. Even the off-piste terrain is relatively easy-going. In fact, Vail's celebrated 'Back Bowls' are probably the best place in the world for skiers to make their first turns in powder (provided they have luck with the conditions). Facilities for beginners are good, too: and as with so many American and Canadian resorts, the ski school offers energetic and painstaking tuition.
The one group of skiers and snowboarders who will feel a little short-changed by Vail is the experts. There are a lot of very highly skilled mountain-users living in the area, and they're up in Vail all the time - but compared to the likes of Tignes, Jackson Hole, La Plagne or Chamonix, they dine on scraps: unless you're content to ski mogul fields and tree-runs for most of the holiday you should turn your attention to steeper resorts.
You have to fly to Denver and then jump in a hire car (which is tough after the long flight), or catch one of the many transfer buses...
The journey from the airport to the resort takes about two and a half hours so expect to be feeling fairly groggy by the time you get to Vail.
Intermediates and beginners alike will love the confidence the wide, open slopes of Vail affords them...
The real experts would be better off in a resort with steeper faces to challenge them, though.
With numerous bars and restaurants to choose from and lots of activities for non-skiers, Vail is a great all-round resort...
There's a huge choice of bars and restaurants in the valley - although Vail is a long, narrow, linear town and getting from one end to the other can be a drag (although there is a free shuttle bus). Those who want to burn the candle at both ends would be well advised to stay near Vail Village (the main hub of the lifts) so they can be near key bars such as the Red Lion. For posh nosh, try La Tour, or the Game Creek Restaurant - private club by day, exclusive, out-of-the-way restaurant by night.
The linear nature of the Vail resort means that you'll spend a lot of time in the car, or riding the shuttle buses. But there's a lot to do here - shopping, dining, dipping in and out of the high-end spas, and visiting the factory outlet stores in Silverthorne (Gap, Ralph Lauren, Nike and Tommy Hilfiger are all there). Adventure Ridge above the Lionshead suburb lays on lots of fun activities too, including tubing, ski biking and the trampoline.
Cost of living 6/10
Getting to Colorado isn't cheap: and Vail's position as a premium ski resort means accommodation can be pricey too, particularly if you want to stay near the lifts. There are some budget lodging options, but you may end up in one of the outer suburbs or even on the wrong side of the freeway.
Attractiveness of the resort 6/10
The look of Vail has improved over recent years - especially at Lionshead, which has had a big budget facelift. Once you leave the highway behind the mountains are lovely too - although not as craggy as the Alps or the Canadian Rockies.