The quaint resort of Saas-Fee is one of the most charming in the Alps, surrounded by 13 4,000m peaks in a truly spectacular setting. The area is extremely snow-sure with the ski slopes going up to a heady 3,600m, and — in addition to the winter season — you can also ski on the glacier from July to the end of October.
The Swiss resort is a destination well suited to beginners and families. The village is relaxed and car-free, the ski area is small and undemanding, and the nursery slopes are separate from the main pistes. Once you’ve progressed beyond the novice phase, there are some easy slopes higher up the mountain.
As well as its decent beginner skiing, Saas-Fee is also home to a good intermediate descent starting at the top of the 3,500m Allalin funicular station, passing the mid-station, and ending up back down in the village.
If you’re here to learn, there’s the traditional Swiss Ski & Snowboard School, along with alternatives such as Eskimos or Optimum Snowsports for group lessons, and Ski Zenit for private tuition and summer race camps.
The ski area is a small one and the Allalin glacier shrinks every year, making the off-piste limited due to a preponderance of seracs and crevasses. For this reason it is extremely important to stay on the marked piste unless you’re accompanied by a qualified local guide.
Possibly as a result of its small ski area, the resort works hard at innovating what it does have. The Spielboden gondola has received a £16 million upgrade for this winter and now has 10-person cabins, with the whole lift running on 100 per cent ecological energy.
Saas-Fee’s hotels range from simple rustic retreats to lush spa hotels such as the new five-star Hotel Capra. In the middle are lots of comfortable, family-run three- and four-stars. If you’d prefer a home-from-home, then there’s Chalet Jessica which sleeps eight in great comfort.
Those on a tighter budget can try the WellnessHostel 4000 which, unusually, contains a spa, the Aqua Allalin. Here all the latest technology and high-quality natural materials are all brought together, with a 25m indoor swimming pool, a range of saunas and steam rooms, relaxation and treatment rooms, a children’s pool, water slide and Bistro 4000, which serves ‘alpine tapas’.
You can also visit The Ice Pavillion during your stay. It sits high above the village at 3,500m and was revamped in spring 2016 — with a theme of the mystery, myths and legends of the ice. And, for something really unusual, you can experience a simulated avalanche with lighting effects and a reverberating shock wave.
To visit this charming Swiss resort you have to arrive by mountain railway — it’s a romantic experience reminiscent of a bygone era. There are frequent rail connections to the area from both Zurich and Geneva airports.
One week half-board at four-star Hotel Allalin costs from £726pp, including Heathrow flights and resort transfers — book through SNO (sno.co.uk).
Felice Hardy is co-editor of the ski information websitewelove2ski.com
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