Saas Fee Ski Review:
Saas Fee may be the most under-rated, under-marketed ski resort in Switzerland.
Copious quantities of snow, stunning scenery, big mountain skiing and a cute car
free village make this a must-ski destination. It's been referred to as "The
Pearl of the Alps" because of the magnificent peaks surrounding the gem of a
valley like a shell. Saas Fee is located in the German speaking Wallis region not far
from Visp, you turn up the scenic Saas Fee valley an hour before Zermatt in
Stalden. As this is southern Switzerland, Saas Fee gets more sun (300 days
annually) and milder temps than other ski regions of the Alps. The quaint alpine
village complements the natural splendor of this glacial Swiss ski valley, Saas Fee translates
to meadow of the cows.
The skiing at Saas Fee is sizeable, with an impressive vertical
drop of 5,906' from the 11,482' summit. There are over 100 kilometers of
prepared pistes (35 trails) serviced by 36 lifts of all styles and vintages
including 4 cable cars and a funicular railway, the Metro Alpin. This
underground train transports you to the highest summit of Allallin. One of the
most unique experiences at Saas Fee is emerging from the dark stepped railway
(the world's highest underground rail car) up a flight of stairs to this
remarkable mountaintop, where you are met with extraordinary views of glaciers
and 18 peaks towering above 13,000' including The Dom, Aletschhorn, Monch, Eiger
and Jungfrau. Saas Fee's summit offers gentle, wide open glacier skiing terrain.
You can stay up here and play on the summit T-Bars for the better part of the
day surrounded by the spectacularly scenery.
While at the summit, you must dine (or drink) at "ThreeSixty" - the
highest revolving restaurant in the world. We shared a delicious
Walliser Plattli of local Swiss cheese and dried meats as we did one full
revolution (which takes about an hour) before skiing off the summit amid the
brilliant blue ice formations.
There's much more to Saas Fee's skiing than just the upper mountain glaciers.
The three mountain areas of Fellskinn, Plattjen and Langfluh offer long prepared
runs ski runs with excellent grooming and wide slopes marked on both sides with
bright colored poles. It is not recommend that you venture off piste without a
guide as this glacial territory is riddled with crevasses and other dangers
hidden beneath the snow pack. See our tips on
Hiring a Ski Guide in Switzerland.
Saas Fee has a dozen on mountain chalets and restaurants, the
Gletschergrotte is a charming old chalet serving delicious traditional alpine dishes
like Rösti and Schnitzle,
while they Spielboden is modern mountain chic with an upscale bar and wine list. Saas Fee is surprisingly popular
with snowboarders, and there's a big freestyle park.
In addition to Saas Fee's main mountain, there are two other ski areas, Saas
Almagell and Saas Grund. Saas means "valley" and these lower elevation areas
were closed during our April visit. While Saas Fee is smaller than other Swiss
ski resorts, it is also less busy, rarely a lift line or queue. Saas Fee won
best Swiss Ski Resort for snow reliability, slope preparation (grooming) and
coziness. Aletsch Arena and
Zermatt, also in this Wallis region of Switzerland,
ranked in the top 3 as well.
Saas Fee ski village is romantic and relatively small, just
friendly residents and classic alpine chalets made from native wood. There is a
car park on the edge of town, or you arrive by bus, so there is no traffic on
the narrow streets - just jiffy little electric shuttle cars for most hotels.
There is a strong English clientele here, they bring their families for the
acclaimed British run ski school (kids ski free under 9), and stay on the
groomed pistes primarily. The local hero is Pirmin Zurbriggen, the Swiss ski
racer grew up here and has a four start hotel in Saas Almagell.
We stayed at The Dom, named for the 14,911' peak, a grand four star hotel in the
center of the ski village recently remodeled with alpine modern comforts and
electronics. Walking the
alpine village of Saas Fee, over bridges and past chalets, bakeries and
boutiques, is a delightful après ski pastime.
There are just enough Swiss restaurants and bars in Saas Fee to satisfy your ski
For alternative adrenaline, Saas Grund's Sledge run is one of the longest in
Europe at 11-kilometers - sounds crazy to us. The Saas Feeblitz is a mountain
coaster in the Adventure Park - where you can reach 40 kph on your sled. Snow
tubing, torchlight walks and night sledding are all possibilities in peak
We hit Saas Fee on a sunny powder day and it was amazing. So much terrain, so
few people skiing it, and the remarkable glacial alpine scenery at every turn.
You can see the village below you too as a reminder of the hospitality that
awaits after your big ski day at Saas Fee.