Disclaimer: I'm Swiss, spent 2 years in the US (CA), though, and have visited most of the Alps and the major US ski resorts. My home resort is...guess what...Laax. :D
Wrote this one couple years ago, updated it and hope it's still accurate:
Region: the Alps are big, but infrastructure and resorts are concentrated. Thus, you can do all your travelling with public transportation and definately don't need a car.
Many resorts are cross border, meaning you can spend the morning in Italy and switch to Switzerland for the afternoon.
Towns: most are "typically European", but there's a big difference from country to country or even region to region. Austria has lots of mass tourism (while keeping the charm), Switzerland has really rustic houses and scenery, France has some ugly as f*** concrete resorts. Accomodation can be very inexpensive, but if you're out for the 5***** palace, no problem. ^^ If you have a tight budget, I really suggest you go for farm holidays. Most towns have people running a farm while offering rooms and breakfast. It can't get any more authentic and cozy, the food is, for American standards (sorry folks! :D), excellent, and you can get away with 15-20€/night+breakfast.
Food in general is really good and, if you want to cook on your own, groceries are very inexpensive. Definately try traditional food, Swiss chocolate, raclettes, Austrian sausages, French wines and whatever else comes your way.
Resorts: big resorts have lots of families, beginners, old and young people...so slopes are almost always more crowded. Skiing is a very popular sport over here, so it might feel like extreme mass tourism, especially if you get in one of this many high speed chairlifts. Then again, many resorts have most of their slopes above the timerline, so they're sometimes more than 100m wide. Very open space compared to American tree runs, which, of course, can get very nightmarish in bad weather. While snow conditions are not always perfect and there are more and more resorts relying on snow makers, the vertical drop must, for Americans, seem ridiculously big. Normal ski resorts have at least 3000ft vertical drop, top resorts go up to 7000ft. Even if you're a park rat or powderhound, try to appreciate the slopes from time to time and do the "Talabfahrt", the valley run, which often features starting in a place of snow and rocks at 9000ft and ending in the middle of the alpine town at 3000ft.
People: very international. Some from the alpine states (Austria, Italy, Switzerland, France), at any time of the year at least 50% Germans, occasionaly loads of Dutch, English, Russians, Polish. Characters, for this reason, are mixed, but all in all very mellow, laid back people. Then again, much more upfront/frank than English speaking people. If you do something wrong, somebody will point it out. :D As you might have heard, being rude has a complete different connotation here. People seem harsh and unfriendly and it is quite true that American hospitality is outstanding and probably untouched, but it's all a matter of perspective. At least nobody over here will wish you "a nice day" if he doesn't mean it or ask you "how you're doing" if he doesn't want to know. ^^
Definately many party people around. In resorts with heavy park scene (like Laax), it's similar to the US. In major Austrian resorts, it's something completely different. It involves thousands of people dancing in lodges, pubs, umbrella bars to a mix of dancy charts music, evergreens and, most of all, German drinking songs. Definately matter of taste. Notice that all of this refers to the activities directly after skiing. Most (young) Europeans get drunk right after skiing, then eat, relax, and get out at 11pm again to party until late at night...again getting drunk. Regarding this, discos and normal pubs for nightlife are found everywhere. Drinking, however, is part of cultural life, so pretty much all people know their limits. It's a good advice not to overdo it, as you'll probably be the only one. :D
Parks: more and more resorts have them, and they're getting better. Some are really good and can be compared with top US/CAN ones. Naturally, I have to recommend Laax. One beginners park with jiblines, one slopestyle and one monsterpipe + pro park. They host both Orage Freeski Open and Burton European Open, so the scene is very present and the level of skiers/snowboarders here is high. But all in all, if you're a park rat, stay at home. Nothing here that the big parks in the US don't have. Except for the beautiful scenery surrounding the park. So if you're up for an epic photoshoot and want to have glaciers instead of trees in the background, then it's a different thing.
Off: can be extremely steep and rocky and therefore also very dangerous. Compare it to a slightly smaller form of Alaska. ^^ Definately not to be compared with most Rocky resorts in terms of danger. Remember where Shane McConkey died. Starts with "D", ends with "olomites". Snow can be very good, but you definately need some fresh snow to really appreciate it. In the Rockies, you surely find more days in the year which provide perfect conditions. Then again, you get way more bluebird days here than in North America. The southern side of the Alps claims to have up to 300 days of sunshine a year.
Slackcountry in Europe is enormous. Just always watch out for gapers, as a lot of intermediate and beginners go off-bounds without knowing what they're doing. As with the slopes, slackcountry can get really crowded. Be early.
Snow: starts falling as early as in September. There can be bad periods, though. Most ski resorts offer "snow guarantee" thanks to their snowmakers from December to April. If you want powder, though, go to the glaciers. And while there can be heavy snowfalls in November or December, it's sometimes February or even March when the big loads are coming and you'll have more than 3 meters to ski on. Snow quality is good, but not as dry and fluffy as this famous "champagne powder" that travel agencys in Europe advertise for trips to the Rockies. ^^
So if you prefer pillowlines and fluffy backcountry slashing, again, stay at home. If you want to ride the faces of big ass mountains, including cliffs, ridges, shutes and so on, come to Yurop. :D
Language: As long as you're not staying in said farm and have world war II veterans as your hosts, you WILL get along with English. Everybody speaks it at least on a basic level and signs are either self explanatory or written in multiple languages, English always being one of them. However, people will really appreciate it if you show off your 10 words of German/French/Italian. All Europeans are totally happy and astonished if an American decides to learn their language. :D Trust me, "ein Bier bitte" or "ou est la toilette, s'il vous plait?" will give you props. ;) It also helps fighting the stupid stereotype that Americans are dumb and ignorant, which is a quite popular stereotype over here. ^^
So yeah, come over here and go for it.
Have a nice season!