Saas-Fee

Saas-Fee is one of Switzerland’s hidden gem, nicknamed the Pearl of the Alps. One valley over from the more famous Zermatt, this big mountain ski resort in the Swiss south is high-elevation with plenty of snow and sunshine. Saas-Fee is best known for its beautiful glaciers and the stunning peaks that surround the magnificent valley. It’s also a car-free alpine village that provides a truly relaxing family ski holiday.

Saas-Fee is one of the best Swiss Ski Resorts for snow reliability, slope preparation (grooming) and quaintness. Saas Fee is comprised of three ski areas, including Saas-Grund and Saas-Almagell. Saas-Fee and Saas-Almagell are on the Swiss Magic Pass.

Saas Fee Trail Map

The skiing at Saas-Fee includes 22 lifts and over 100 kilometers of skiing on 35 long, well prepared (groomed) trails. The ski lifts are a mix of old and new – chairs, pomas, T-Bars, cable cars, and the amazing underground summit funicular railway to 3500-meters. As you ski around Saas-Fee’s network of lifts and trails, you are surrounded by 18 peaks over 4000 meters! Its stunning, with shimmering massive ice chunks clinging to the mountains in gorgeous glacial blue and turquoise. It takes three lifts, including the underground high-alpine Metro Alpin, to reach Saas-Fee’s summit.

The Metro Alpin is the most amazing – the world’s highest underground funicular that brings skiers up to the spectacular Allalin Glacier at 3550M (11,482′). The engineering marvel was completed in 1984 – it took 4 years to construct. You actually walk through a tunnel including a conveyor belt walkway with your skis to board the Metro Alpin. In ten dark minutes up, you emerge from the funicular at 3500 meters, where you are surrounded by 4000’ Swiss Peaks, and glacial fields.

At the summit is a rotating restaurant, “360” Drehrestaurant Allalin. It is the highest revolving restaurant in the world. On a clear day, its worth reserving a window lunch table. It takes an hour to complete the slow scenic “round the Alps” 360-tour admiring dramatic changing peaks as you go. The towering Dom at 4545M, to the Jungfrau summits of The Monch, Eiger and Jungfrau are a few highlights. While the cuisine here is not as exceptional as the view, we’d recommend the veggie soup with sausage (a huge wiener) versus their overrated burger and pomme frites.

From the summit of Saas-Fee, the skiing is mesmerizing with the glacial fields and crevasses encircling you. The upper mountain plateau of snow fields is served by a few T-Bars. This can be great powder skiing, but its can also be windy and wild – with no definition or trees. Beware of hidden dangerous crevasses.  Its a long 5,906′ vertical ski all the way to the village, but there are plenty of other lifts and well-prepared trails to explore along the way, blue, red, and black prepared slopes plus yellow slopes (marked with yellow poles to guide you but not groomed, for experienced skiers only).

Signage at Saas-Fee is confusing, or just plain non-existent, so study your trail map as there are many lifts going in various directions (very poorly marked). While the upper mountain is moderate, the mid-mountain terrain has a good pitch, and the lower base area is quite flat, good for beginners, but a skate at the end of the day as you return to the village.

Saas-Fee’s terrain is vast and while nothing is particularly extreme, there is lots off piste, but also many crevasses so be sure to stay on-piste or hire a mountain guide to explore, this is glacial territory where crevasses are plentiful, dangerously disguised beneath the snow. The terrain around Saas-Fee is surprisingly rocky, with extreme cliffs too, not naturally conducive to ski slopes. As the crow flies Saas-Fee is very close to Zermatt and could interconnect with just a couple of lifts, but rumor has it, years ago folks in Zermatt didn’t want that.

For families, Saas-Fee has an English ski school – British-operated and popular among families from the UK. Of note: kids under 9 ski free at Saas-Fee. Young kids will enjoy Saas-Fee’s mascots, and the references to mountain fairies around the resort.

Teenagers will love the terrain park at Saas-Fee – with a high percentage of snowboarders for the typically “alpine skier” Alps. Millennials and GenX’ers will love that George Michael’s of WHAM record his “Last Christmas” video in Saas Fee in the 1980’s.

Saas-Fee’s quaint alpine village of 1,800 residents awaits at the end of your ski day. The pretty car-free atmosphere (only electric shuttles are permitted for hotels and businesses) adds to the alpine charm and calm. Walking the picturesque ski village is a delight, its compact and cheery with a pleasant assortment of shops and Swiss restaurants, historic chalet sights and a museum, plus a few fun après ski bars – along “après ski row” – the Black Bull Snowbar, Rudi’s, High Life Après Ski Club, and The Muehle to name a few.

Hotel BristolSlopeside Hotel: If you want to be slopeside The Hotel Bristol is a perfect place to be! This traditional hotel is conveniently located 100 meters from the slopes and a short walk to several lifts. From your balcony at Bristol, you overlook the beginner slopes and Ice Hockey Rink, with magnificent mountain views. Bristol is cozy, old-school, family owned and operated. With half-board, your stay includes a bountiful breakfast buffet, and a 4-course menu prepared each evening, making your stay easy and relaxing. While the decor has not been updated in some time it is a pleasant atmosphere. The hotel offers family suites, a chic newer apartment – Bristolina, and a Penthouse Suite. Push off from the 3,500 meter Saas-Fee summit and end your day 1700 meters later at the ski room of the The Bristol where you can store your gear and put your ski boots on heated dryers.

For après ski family fun, Saas-Fee’s Adventure Park offers snow tubing and a mountain coaster called “SaasFeeblitz”. Saas-Grund has a wild 11-kilometer sledge run, among the longest sled runs in the Alps. During winter holidays, Saas-Fee hosts fairytale walks – called Mountain Magic, torch light hikes, and even night sledging.

Saas-Fee’s sparkling glaciers and big mountain skiing are stunning. Saas-Fee has the Swiss charm and high-elevation scenery of other ski resorts in the Alps but not the big fame. The hospitality of the locals living on this land for 1,000 years is as genuine as it gets. “Saas Fee” translates to meadow of the cows. Arriving by bus or car, you leave your car and cares behind, and immerse yourself in this valley of natural splendor.

Saas-Fee Stats: Elevation 3550M (11,647′), 5,906′ vertical drop, 23 lifts, 62 miles of prepared trails plus off-piste and glacier skiing plus skiing at nearby Saas-Grund and Saas-Almagell just down valley. Saas-Fee is on the Magic Pass so you can include it on a Swiss ski safari, also skiing nearby Grimentz Zinal, St-Luc/ChandolinLeukerbad, Les MarecottesNax Mont NobleAnzère, Saas-Almagell, and many more.
Saas-Fee Ski Photos

Travel to Saas Fee: Fly into Geneva or Zurich, take a Train to Visp, then a 40-minute Bus to the parking garage, where you are shuttled to your hotel or the ski slopes.

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