With the launch of cheaper flights to Colorado, Hannah Stephenson looks at the opportunities for skiers who want a change from European pistes.

There are two types of fun that skiers experience on the mountain, my instructor tells me.

Type One is the kind that you have in the moment, relishing the rhythm that takes over as you glide down the easier corduroy groomers between swathes of deep green lodgepole pine, inhaling the clean air and soaking in the brilliant sunshine over the Colorado Rockies as you go.

Then there's Type Two; the kind that only becomes fun once the event is over. This is the type of fun I'm experiencing right now, as I negotiate my first black run after a five-year break from skiing, heart in my mouth, skis perched on the top of what seems an impossibly steep slope.

Concentration heightened and brows furrowed, I endeavour to complete my descent without suffering the painful humiliation of a total wipe-out.

But when I'm down, quads aching and heart pounding, I look up at the black I've just skied and immediately, the fear is replaced by exhilaration and euphoria, and it's high fives all round before we finish the descent on easier blues to the centre base at Copper Mountain, Colorado.

This purpose-built family-orientated resort, a two-hour drive from Denver off Interstate 70, is just one of the options for skiers taking advantage of Norwegian's low-cost flight service to Colorado's capital, from which you can access a myriad of resorts, including Winter Park, Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Aspen.

Why go to the US instead of Europe?

But why would you want to take a nine-hour flight to ski, when you have the option of the French, Italian, Austrian and Swiss alps only two hours away?

Well, for a start, the Americans are big on hospitality. Their attitude is 'How can I help you?' - rather than the surly 'What do you want?' approach from at least one European counterpart.

Lift queues are managed more efficiently and safety is paramount, as learners find their ski legs in the designated slow zones.

English is also the instructors' first language, a massive plus when you are being taught the intricacies of beginner snowploughs, weight distribution and turning techniques, before progressing to carving, off-piste trails, powder and back bowls.

Smaller classes

Class groups are often smaller in Colorado resorts than they are in Europe. I'm told six to eight is the usual number, as opposed to 10 in some ski schools in France.

Copper is ideal for families and all abilities, thanks to its natural landscape; the easier slopes being largely to the west and the more difficult to the east, where there are four bowls for advanced skiers.

It's a high-altitude location - 9,712ft at base level - and small, portable oxygen canisters are available to buy for around $14/£10 in case of altitude sickness. We are all advised to drink plenty of water and not go heavy on the alcohol if we want our bodies to cope with the change in atmosphere.

While my companions, who are advanced skiers, venture to Tucker Mountain at 12,337ft, hitching a free ride via the resort snowcat before hiking up to the summit and skiing down the high-alpine chutes of the back bowl, I opt for cruising the blues named, appropriately, Oh No, Skid Road and Bouncer.

The pistes are quiet today, despite the fact that weekenders from Denver often use Copper as a ski bolthole. With 2,490 skiable acres, there's plenty of action to keep you amused for a week without repeating the same runs.

Meanwhile, non-skiers can try tubing - which is like tobogganing in what looks like a giant rubber ring - or the new Rocky Mountain Coaster, a roller coaster in the trees, which can reach 25mph - but allows you to control the speed.

Unlike other Colorado ski resorts, Copper doesn't have any hotels, just self-catering condominiums which are more spacious than many European offerings, although you may have to get the free shuttle bus to find a decent supermarket at Frisco, half an hour's bus ride away.

Go celeb spotting in Aspen

From Copper, we head west to the place where the other half lives, namely Aspen, a two-hour drive away and ski home to stars such as Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, Kevin Costner and comedian Seth Rogen.

My instructor, New Zealander Ange Harris, reveals that her pupils last season included Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

This former 19th-century silver-mining town nestled in the heart of the Colorado Rockies, named because of the abundance of aspen trees in the area and popular with psychedelic hippies in the 1970s - and home of the late Hunter S Thompson, journalist and author - has long been a world-class ski resort, spanning four unconnected mountains, each with its own charm.

Gucci, Prada and Ralph Lauren form the shopping staples of guests staying at the famous Little Nell and Jerome hotels, as well as the town's celebrity residents.

We're staying at The Limelight, a more relaxed high-end hotel, whose laid-back ambience attracts many locals for drinks and dinner.

Yet despite its Hollywood status, Aspen retains a small-town charm. It's proud of its art galleries and designer shops, but remains twee and twinkly, with fairy lights in the trees. And there's still a hint of hippy, as a cannabis shop (marijuana's legal in Colorado) invites customers to enjoy a joint.

Walk the heated pavements to find a wealth of galleries and artisan shops, selling everything from cowboy Stetsons to a genuine Siberian mammoth skeleton (going for a cool million dollars).

The Little Nell is a great place for apres-ski people-watching - if you can afford $16/£12 for a G&T. I spy a plethora of designer-clad guests who have clearly splashed out on an avalanche of cosmetic enhancements. Nips, tucks and trout pouts abound.

But back to the skiing which, unsurprisingly, is phenomenal. Pistes are efficiently groomed, slopes are virtually empty and you don't get Denver weekenders in this neck of the woods, as it's too far at four hours' drive from the city.

The four mountains each have their own strengths: Buttermilk is for beginners; Aspen (Ajax) Mountain is good for advanced skiers; Highlands is famous for the Highland Bowl - advanced skiers hike up to its famous 3,777m summit, carrying their skis before racing down a heart-stopping 450m slope; while the biggest mountain, Snowmass, suits all abilities.

Free shuttle buses transfer guests between mountains and no journey takes longer than around 15 minutes.

Snowmass, Aspen's modern satellite, celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2018 and is currently undergoing a massive expansion project.

We are immersed in the lap of luxury at The Viceroy, a glamorous, five-star ski-in/ski-out hotel, where courteous attendants offer to help us on and off with our boots and line our skis up neatly on the piste, so all we need to do is click in.

In Aspen, lift attendants take your skis from you to put them in the ski gondola rack, and remove them from the gondola on arrival at the top. And if you want music on your journey, some of the gondolas have Bluetooth speakers to connect with your own playlist.

On the slopes, you can visit the Kleenex corner sniffle station for a tissue if you have a runny nose, enjoy free coffee at the base area, cups of warming hot apple cider on the slopes and, at one point, we come across a free rum cocktail stand halfway down a blue run.

Visitors shouldn't worry that the mountains aren't linked, because at the base of each, is a booth where you put your skis and tell the attendant where you want to ski next day. Your skis will be waiting for you at your chosen mountain.

Overnight ski storage and transfer costs $20/£15, but if you hire your skis with Four Mountain Sports (.aspensnowmass.com/plan-your-stay/equipment-rentals), the service is free.

On the last night, we venture up to the Aspen sundeck for a sunset party, a beautiful pink sky enveloping the snow-capped peaks.

Inside, a band blasts American favourites, rock and rap, while Aspen ladies in white fur-trimmed ski suits dance with Beanie-clad young dudes still in their ski boots.

It occurs to me that this is Type One and Type Two fun all rolled into one - to be enjoyed in the moment and remembered fondly afterwards.

How to get there

Hannah Stephenson travelled with Norwegian (norwegian.com/uk; 0330 828 0854) and Colorado Ski Country USA (coloradoski.com).

Norwegian offers three direct flights a week from London Gatwick to Denver on the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Fares start from £185 one way in economy, and from £515 one way in premium (which includes lounge access and an upgraded passenger experience).

Viceroy Snowmass (viceroyhotelsandresorts.com/en/snowmass) rooms start from $807.50/£615 per night, plus taxes and fees.

Copper Mountain Lodging (coppercolorado.com) costs from $185/£140 a night.