Saas Fee is set one valley east of Zermatt, and is surrounded by a ring of 4,000 metre peaks...
Two things will stick in your mind after a holiday to Saas Fee. One is how quiet and pretty the village is - car-free and dotted with ancient hay barns, it's a cheerful, relaxing place with surprisingly spirited nightlife. The second is the overwhelming presence of the mighty Allalin glacier. Its jagged séracs are visible from the main street, and almost everywhere you ski you'll be either on it, or alongside it.
Resort height: 1,800m
The glacier is both a blessing and a curse. It means you never have to worry about snow - in the middle of summer you can still ski in Saas Fee, sometimes in knee-deep powder. And it ensures the resort's high-rated terrain park (home to one of the best half-pipes in the Alps) is always in good condition. But it's so dominant in the valley, and its lower stretches so riven with crevasses, that it limits the amount of terrain available for wintersports. In all, Saas Fee only offers 100km of pistes, and some of that is in other villages lower down the valley.
What there is in Saas Fee is of the highest quality, however. There are some lovely nursery slopes close to one end of town, and the intermediate-level pistes are a dream - especially the top-to-bottom descent from the highest lift station back into town, through a dizzy 1,700 vertical metres. You can ski laps on it for a couple of days repeatedly and not get bored. The problem comes after that - there isn't really enough here to keep you busy for a whole week. The solution? Give yourself a day off skiing half-way through the week, and relax in a spa - or else jump on the bus and take a day trip to Zermatt.
Tour operators tend to fly their guests into Sion airport on charters - it's little more than an hour from there to the resort...
Everyone else goes to either Geneva or Zurich, which is a different matter altogether. The transfer, by train or car, takes three to four hours.
Saas Fee is a great choice of resort for anyone trying out skiing or snowboarding for the first time...
There are also several fun runs for intermediates and advanced skiers, although the choice is more limited for those who have already attained a reasonable level on either one or two planks.
Car-free Saas Fee is one of those rare resorts that scores highly on everything from après-ski ambience to cost of living…
The party in Saas Fee kicks off in one of several open-air bars at the top end of the village (nearest the lifts). Be careful if your preferred tipple is gluhwein - they make it with schnapps, and after a couple of glasses you'll be legless. Afterwards, the action moves down to the Popcorn, which stays open to 4am. Those in search of a more civilised drink should visit the Vernissage, in the Hotel Ferienart (the local branch of a lovely bar in Zermatt), and the lounge bar at the Dom Hotel. The Vernissage also is an excellent restaurant.
It depends what you're after. Saas Fee is remote, high and cold. If you're happy to get out on the mountain you'll have lots of fun - there's even a separate lift set aside for tobogganing. The resort's indoor pool is a good size too. But those who like lots of buzz in town during the day will be happier elsewhere.
Cost of living 8/10
Because of its freestyle scene, Saas Fee has long been popular with budget-conscious twentysomethings, and there are several good budget accommodation options. The beers in Popcorn aren't too dear, either!
Attractiveness of the resort 9/10
Car-free resorts are wonderful places for a ski holiday, and Saas Fee is no exception. Actually, because it's smaller, it's rather more charming than Zermatt, although it lacks the range of shops, restaurants and accommodation on offer in its neighbour. The high, glaciated scenery is something you won't forget quickly.