Built in two main sectors on quite a steep hillside, Leysin has the reputation of being one of the sunniest spots in the Alps, which means the snow is typically better earlier in the season – especially with south facing slopes. The unusually youthful vibe of this resort, especially by Swiss standards, is aided by the presence of four international schools, including two American and one Japanese, so there’s a good cross-cultural mesh. Plus Leysin has been a major 'boarders destination since the early years of the sport, holding its first pro event way back in ’92, so its credibility is not to be questioned.
Leysin receives 1900 hours sunshine annually which equals over five hours every day. You can get to the original Leysin village from a stop on the funicular railway that runs up to the resort from Aigle in the valley It’s only 100km (60 miles) from Geneva, so a good choice for ski weekenders.
The steepest terrain, on and off piste, is served by the Berneuse gondola. Here one of the resort’s three blacks runs, descends the first two-thirds of a top to bottom descent over the resort’s full 1000m vertical beneath the gondola. The high black served by the Chaux de Mont chair around the snowpark is also fun. Stop by the ski school’s slalom and speed skiing courses in the Berneuse Chaux de Mont Sector if you would like your skills officially measured. The lift pass covers neighbouring resorts including the glacier skiing at Diablerets and those staying four days or longer also get access to the Gstaad Superski area, taking the total skiable area on your ticket towards 500km (250 miles). You will need to use efficient Swiss public transport to get around though if you haven’t got a car with you.
Well organised for getting you off the beaten tracks are the Mountain Guides Office and Heli-Chablais, or if you want to risk going alone the trail map has a range of itineraries marked on. A favourite is to take the lift up to Chaux de Mont via the Berneuse gondola and then follow the ridge above the resort. From here there’s a huge choice of runs down through the powder above the treeline. The snow is usually best between January and March.