Saas Fee is very pretty, comprising of traditional swiss chalet-style buildings. It is surrounded on all sides by the mountains, which provide spectacular views in all directions. The village is very long, with the nursery slopes and most lifts being at one end, so choose your accommodation wisely. It wasn't a problem for us because our hotel provided a free taxi service on demand, otherwise it would have been quite a long walk. No petrol vehicles are allowed in the village, so this makes it very quiet. Cars are left in a car park on the edge of town and transport consists of electric buggy type things and small electric buses, which made the place feel a bit like Toytown. Most of the folks we met in bars and shops were very polite and helpful.
We stayed in the Allalin Hotel, on a package with Inghams which included evening meals. Our room was very luxurious and was laid out over two levels, with a sitting area and very nice bathroom downstairs, and bedrooms upstairs on a mezzanine level. The room slept 4, although there was only 3 of us. The evening meals consisted of 6 courses, with always two choices of main course – fish or meat. One night we had fondue which was yummy. If anyone wanted something different (sometimes Little Allie didn't like either main course), they were happy to prepare anything on request. All staff were friendly and helpful.
They hadn't had new snow for a while, so there were loads of bare patches around the nursery slopes. However, on the Sunday and Monday it snowed extensively – maybe 30cm. The rest of the week we had blue skies. Unfortunately these came with high temperatures, so at village level it was a balmy 11 degrees on average. Higher up on the mountain it remained below freezing, so that snow was in good condition, but the nursery slopes were really suffering. When we left on Saturday the 3-day forecast was for the high temperatures to continue.
Admittedly we only used 2 lifts and there are several others. We used the Alpine Express and the Felskinn. The Felskinn carries a max of 60 people (don't know what you call these large lifts like an aerial train carriage without seats), but only runs every 15 minutes. It has all the charm of the London underground at rush-hour but you do get to know your fellow passengers intimately as you are jammed up against them (ooh er is that your ski pole or are you just pleased to see me?). My experience of the London underground came in handy for elbowing people in the ribs. But the Felskinn only takes 8 mins to reach the top. The Alpine Express is just a normal bubble lift but is in 2 stages, stopping at the mid-point, which necessitates a change of bubble to get the second stage up to the top. Obviously all this makes for a longer journey from bottom to top. We saw (but didn't use) some very steep drag lifts on the mountain and a chair lift. As the lifts were all built at different times (ie different decades!) they weren't very joined up. We did an awful lot of walking in our ski boots (which I really hate). In particular, when you get to the top of the mountain on either the Felskinn or the Alpine Express, you have to walk through a tunnel to reach the slopes. This felt ever so long and laborious – I was really fed up with it by the end of the week.
We stuck to pretty much one blue run on the mountain all week, so I can't comment extensively on the slopes. There's a couple of blue runs but I don't think there's many slopes that would suit complete beginners for building confidence, apart from the nursery slopes in the village. Timid skiers like us don't have much to progress to. I spoke to another visitor in the week who is a very experienced skier and he said the resort suits intermediate level better. The other blue run that we didn't do was reached by getting two different gondolas, followed by a 7-minute drag lift.
We signed Little Allie up for private lessons with Amy at Optimum Ski School. This is an English ski school which has been operating for just a couple of years. We were very happy with the service and in fact Optimum were the cheapest of the 3 ski schools. Little A has made good progress.
The weak pound didn't do us any favours but we were expecting that. A small glass of wine was between £3 and £6 depending on where you bought it; a small beer (33cl) was £3 or £4; a mug of gluhwein was £3; a margarita pizza was £12 but fed 2 hungry-ish adults; a latte was £4 and a doughnut was £3. We were glad our evening meal was included. Someone told us hotel occupancy rates were down 30%.
To summarise, we would probably return to pretty Saas Fee some day, but not before our skiing is good enough to give us more choice of slopes. And I really hated walking through that tunnel at the top of Felskinn/Alpine Express!
I've never been to Saas Fee and I found your report very interesting. I didn't realize it was so pretty. But it sounds as though food and drink was incredibly expensive
Any pics to post?
The tunnel is a pain in the arse! But it sounds like you missed off a whole side of the hill with some really nice runs, and the chair right under felskin and the alpin express which accesses some cruisy terrain.
2 lifts and 1 blue run all week......do you know Stewart Dowling by any chance?????
I have a mate who owns a property in Saas Fe but I've been warned off going by someone else I know who's skied there. They told me I'd be bored so I guess its somewhere for a short break or better for beginners/timid intermediates?
Not great news about the weather you had, sorry to hear that.
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