European Product Manager, Claire, has just returned from Switzerland with all the latest news and tales of skiing in Saas Fee!
At the end of last month, I was invited to a contracting event in Switzerland to catch up with a number of existing and potentially new accommodation, extras and transport suppliers. In celebration of the 150th anniversary of the first successful ascent of the Matterhorn, Zermatt was chosen to host the event and meetings were held in the shadow of this iconic mountain, making it a very special few days.
I was fortunate enough to stay at one of our favourite Zermatt hotels, the 4-star Hotel Mirabeau, which didn’t disappoint. This family-owned hotel is just a short walk from the train station of this car-free resort and the atmosphere there is relaxed and understated. My deluxe room was modern and spacious, complete with beautiful Matterhorn view. Although I didn’t get a chance to test it out, the swimming pool and spa area were a good size and could be easily accessed from either the main building or the Alpine residence, which houses a number of Junior Suites. The hotel is now being run by another generation of the Julen family and great care goes into ensuring guests enjoy their stay. The last I heard there were still a couple of rooms available at New Year and what an incredible place to be to welcome in 2016!
After several hotel visits (watch this space!) and numerous meetings it was time to bid farewell to Zermatt and make my way to the lesser known resort of Saas Fee, under an hour’s drive away. Both of these resorts have glaciers so skiing is possible over the summer too. And having had a night of reported snowfall, I couldn’t wait to get up there. But first we had a packed schedule to get a feel for the resort.
Saas Fee is also car-free, which helps add to the ambience of the traditional village centre. It’s home to wooden basic chalet-style buildings called ‘Stadeln’ (which are hundreds of years old), cobbled streets and is surrounded by awe-inspiring 4000m mountain peaks, making it a rather impressive spot. After a quick tour of the ice cave we stopped for lunch in the world’s highest rotating restaurant and were treated to 360° jaw-dropping views. I was desperate to get onto a pair of skis!
After a great dinner in the Essstube of the Hotel Marmotte and a fairly early night, I was beyond excited to meet my ski guide for the day bright and early at 7.30am (first lift is at 7am in the summer and it’s pretty busy then with all the ski teams so I was advised to wait half an hour). A couple of cable cars and a funicular later, we had travelled from the village at 1800m up to 3500m. It is only a fraction of the ski area open in winter (and lifts close at 1pm), but what a pleasure to ski in September – on decent snow too! In anticipation of the ski competitions coming up, the lifts and slopes were busy with international ski teams training and we stopped in the park to watch the cool kids do their tricks.
Hugely impressed by this underrated resort, I left Saas Fee on the Post bus which easily connects to the train in Visp to take me back to Geneva. At 3 hours from Geneva, it’s not the closest ski resort but the journey is most definitely worth it and I’d highly recommend Saas Fee to anyone who is looking for a relaxed, traditional Swiss ski resort. Ideal for families or a hidden gem for a romantic ski getaway, Saas Fee is the perfect place for somewhere different.
To speak to one of our expert reservations team about Saas Fee, Zermatt or any of our other resorts, give us a call on 0131 243 8097.