Saas-Fee exemplifies a Zermatt of 20 years ago, beforedevelopment of the resort ramped up and charm was replaced with high endshopping and five star hotels. The entire ski village is incredibly charming – fromold houses and chalets built in the traditional style to narrow cobblestonestreets that boast local watering holes and ski shops galore. Saas-Fee also hasdelightfully reliable early season snow – as early as October – and it’s one ofthe reasons that ski teams from all over the world come to Saas-Fee for earlyseason training runs. Though the ski area is quite small, and definitelydoesn’t have enough to keep an expert skier fully entertained for a week’strip, it’s a great place to visit, as most runs are at an exceptionally highaltitude which is unrivaled by any other resort.
When I visited Saas-Fee, I was struck by how charming andold world the village feels. The ring of 4000m mountains are incredibly hugeand incredibly close, and stun from every angle because of Saas-Fee’s locationat the apex of the valley. Since I visited in springtime, I was lucky enough tofeel the warmth of the sun for most of the day – this is uncommon in midwinter,when late afternoon is the only time skiers will really see the sun. Thedifferences between Zermatt and Saas-Fee are striking; though both are car-freetowns (but not electric minibus-free), Zermatt is all about the hustle andbustle, while Saas-Fee shows a quieter, more relaxed side of the ski industry.Those who are looking for something smaller or more authentic, as I do, will beimpressed with Saas-Fee.
Saas-Fee has a lot to offer skiers and nonskiers alike.Skiers will be treated to high altitude runs, but also can be subject to gustywinds coming off of the glacier. Most of the slopes are north-facing, so you’relikely to get great snow higher up, though it can get patchy on the lowerslopes later in the season. For nonskiers, take the Metro Alpin, the world’shighest-altitude underground train, up to the revolving restaurant Allallin,which makes a full 360 degree turn over the course of an hour, putting thedazzling snowcapped peaks on full display. Afterwards, go explore the IcePavillion – sit on the ice throne, or check out the colored lights displaysthat illuminate some amazing ice carvings!