I don’t need to tell you that January can leave you feeling a bit blue. Christmas is over, the days still so short and with recent downpours around the country it’s the kind of month I want to run away screaming into the hills from, which this January is exactly what I decided to do. Running away for the entire month apparently wasn’t an option however to my delight running away for a few days seemed a bit more feasible. So a short break in Saas Fee it was!
This would be my first short break and it feels ridiculously luxurious to start the working week like everyone else then smugly skip off to the snowy mountains much to the envy of your snow loving colleagues. As the one who is usually waving others off my guilt at this was limited.
The reviews of Saas Fee from clients this season have been excellent, see below, so I decided I had to get in on the action:
“The Hotel Allalin was wonderful. Clean and tastefully decorated, friendly helpful staff and wonderful food. The rooms were spacious. The whole experience was quite exceptional.” Michelle Dec 2015
We travelled by Swiss Rail which was the epitome of Swiss efficiency. It left and arrived bang on time and was a lovely way to travel, skirting along the side of Lake Geneva and giving majestic views of snow-capped mountains across the water, I was delighted. One thing I would note is that for some reason when you board the train in Geneva the destination (Visp) does not appear; instead they list the four main stops then start to list the intermediary stations as the journey gets going, I only mention this to stop any slight panics or rash train changes – other than that, all very smooth. On arriving in Visp the bus station is right outside the railway station with regular buses to take you the last 45 minutes to resort.
We had the pleasure of staying at the charming family run Hotel Allalin, this hotel is part of the fabric of Saas Fee having been owned and run by the Zubriggen family for 4 generations. It’s an excellent example of traditional Swiss alpine architecture and hospitality. We stayed in a Superior Suite which was located at the top of the hotel over two floors, the mezzanine floor housed a deep bath from which you could look out the Velux windows onto breathtaking views of the mountain, all whilst enjoying a warming bubble bath – bliss. The rest of the suite was decorated in a simple yet tasteful style and was very well-appointed with a delightfully comfy bed and TV with British TV channels – I quite enjoy a little snooze in front of the TV post ski so that was ideal!
One of the main reasons we have such a high rate of repeat clients to the Allalin is the spectacular food and this did not disappoint. We opted to stay half board and each night enjoyed a 6 course meal with choice of either fish or meat main course plus delicious starter, soup course, salad buffet, cheese board and dessert. I couldn’t resist a thing! The waiting staff were excellent and the restaurant had that distinct wooden alpine feel that welcomes you in and encourages you to stay until you can’t eat another mouthful.
After one particularly chilly day on the mountain we decided to try out one of the resorts newest features, the Aqua Allalin Wellness Centre at the newly built Youth Hostel (approx. 5 minute walk from the Hotel Allalin). We were sceptical when the words youth hostel and luxury spa area were being bandied around in the same sentence however we were pleasantly surprised, this certainly wasn’t like any youth hostel I have every stayed in before. This adult only zone had an almost James Bond-esque granite feel with huge windows looking out onto spot lit mountains. In true Swiss style the wellness area is a swimming costume free zone however for prudish Brits (of which I am one) there are hammam towels provided so there is no need to bare all if you don’t feel comfortable. Take in the views while experiencing the 2 saunas, steam room, sensory showers, hot tub, relaxation area and then if you’re feeling brave step out onto the balcony to breathe in some fresh mountain air.
And what about the skiing? Which of course was my main focus (aside from the food and the relaxing). To get acquainted with the mountain and to brush up on my technique I always like to take a lesson when I’m away if I can so this is what we did. Our ski school partner in Saas Fee is British run Optimum, they offer a wide range of lessons with friendly English speaking instructors. Our instructor Will was great. He took us up onto the glacier and down some lovely itinerary runs (controlled “off-piste” runs) and gave us lots of great hints and tips to iron out the bad habits I tend to pick up.
I returned to the office well rested and ready to get to work planning my next trip away. I think I could get into the habit of a January short break to the mountains, it certainly blew away my January blues.