Three and a half weeks, 2,500 miles and four hotels and - more importantly - five of the best ski resorts in the world.

And we'll definitely be back - even if Paul Sykora, our host at Frisco's Snowshoe Motel can't wait to leave.

The 38-year-old Czech chef and skier has been living in the States for more than 20 years, but he has Australia on his mind (he's seen it on TV and wants to live there).

Sykora once had his ski pass taken off him for almost causing an avalanche back country skiing near Loveland pass, a 20 minute drive from his adopted home town.

And despite playing host to any number professional snowboarders from France to his homeland, he has only ever skied and has had enough.

Enough of the cold, enough of the snow and enough of the seasonal headache that is filling the Main Street hotel.

He almost traded the Colorado mountains for a return to his original profession in the kitchens of the Savoy Hotel in central London.

But he is still here making all winter sports buffs welcome as they come to enjoy one of the best places to ski in the world.

Why? Here's why..

Having skied all five Colorado resorts on the Vail Resorts Epic Pass - Breckenridge, Keystone, Beaver Creek, Vail, Arapahoe Basin - this is what we made of them (in order or preference).

Joint #1: Keystone & Arapahoe Basin.

If it is extreme off-piste skiing you want, then these two could just be the places to be in Colorado.

The European Alps they are not, in terms of providing quaint, scenic villages in which to over indulge in aprés ski - but the skiing more than makes up for it.

A snowcat ride - or a one mile hike - to the top of Keystone's Outback provides you with acres of ungroomed snow to explore, while the North Peak hands you long mogul runs to die for.

Break-neck routes through the trees are perfect for adrenaline junkies.

For the less adventurous there are plenty of groomed intermediate and expert runs to get you teeth into.

A-Basin, North America's highest resort, is small, but perfectly formed - when the wind isn't blowing - and again it is all about the off-piste.

If you want to scare yourself silly - the North Pole is well worth the hike (see A Missive from the Americas - part three).

Saturday is the day to be scene on the resort's Beach, where locals pitch up BBQs while drinking Bloody Mary's and beers till the cows come home.

#3: Vail Simply enormous ski area with plenty of runs for everyone - you could ski here for a fortnight and not feel you've done it all.

Beats France's Three Valleys - the closest Europe has in terms of size - hands down for sheer variety.

Powder hounds can head to Blue Sky Basin and although it takes a while to get there - which is a drawback - the effort is worth it.

Steep & Deep and Champagne Glade are THE runs of choice, but skiers of any level will find plenty to keep them smiling.

#4: Beaver Creek It is shocking to think the Beav' comes in here, but the competition is stiff.

The well laid out village wreaks of cash and the free cookies for everyone at 3pm by the main lift, are a nice touch to the resort's catchphrase 'Not Exactly Roughing It'.

You can try the men's world championship 'Birds of Prey' course for size and it leaves you grinning from ear-to-ear.

Screech Owl, Golden Eagle and Peregrine are the ones for the experts to look for, while again there are acres to explore.

#5: Breckenridge.

Billed as the region's party town, Breck' is a little bit of a let down.

The trails though plentiful (again), are a little disjointed in terms of layout, which isn't helped by the lack of long runs.

The town itself has plenty of Victorian charm and some lively bars, but you have to wait until around 9pm for the party to really get started.

To sum all five areas up it seems America's attitude is 'here is a mountain, ski as much of it as you like - no holds barred'.

To be continued....

*Frisco is a fantastic base from which to explore these five ski areas and special mentions have to go to Silverheels, the Moosejaw, Vinny's and the Snowshoe Motel for a perfect stay in one of Colorado's gold rush towns.

Snowshoe Motel - great hosts and at $85 a night (off-peak) for a double room with a kitchenette, is excellent value.

Vinny's - serves the best value and tastiest burgers in town.

Silverheels - excellent value Taco, steak and fish & chip nights, plus live music and excellent staff. A must.

Moosejaw - cheap and cheerful, but a good place to watch sport with the locals.

Frisco museum - surprisingly big and well worth a look, if only to find out why the town was once known as the place where you could literally get away with murder.