As winter approaches, we’re thinking about booking a ski trip. We’re close to booking somewhere new this year and it got me reminiscing about our wonderful trip to Saas Fee in 2016 and I thought I’d share it with you here; maybe it will entice you too, if you’re thinking of booking a ski trip.
In March 2016, Ruby and I skied with school in Les Deux Alpes, France. It was our first ski holiday and we had some serious catching up to do, as David is an avid skier and in fact, a snowboard instructor (No pressure there then)
Knowing we’d have a week of tuition on the school trip, it seemed silly to waste those skills until another holiday a year later, so we decided to cash in on our new skills and booked a family trip to Saas Fee, Switzerland, a week after our return.
I have to say, this holiday is up there with the best holidays I’ve ever had. Having never been on a winter holiday abroad before, this was the epitome of a winter wonderland and I had many ‘this is one of the best days of my life’ moments on that trip.
We booked with Inghams, who were extremely efficient and most helpful throughout the booking process and during our stay in Saas Fee. I’d highly recommend using them.
We flew to Geneva on a short two hour (ish) EasyJet flight from Bristol. From there, we caught a Swiss Rail train to Visp. This was about a two hour journey but it was so exciting, and the views from the top-deck of the train were stunning.
At Visp, we caught a local bus up the mountain to Saas Fee, which took about 45 minutes. Again, this was wonderfully exciting and the views were breathtaking as we meandered through the mountains.
On arriving in Saas Fee, we were greeted by our Inghams representative, who explained that one of the electric taxis would take us to our hotel, a minute’s ride away.
One of our reasons for picking Saas Fee was that the village is pedestrianised. Only a handful of electric taxis and hotel pick-up buggies are permitted. This definitely adds to the quaint Swiss experience.
Saas Fee is 4000 metres above sea-level, close to the Italian border and boasts links with up to 150km of regional ski pistes. It just so happens that it’s also one of the most pretty, chocolate-box Swiss resorts you can visit. It’s very uncommercial in comparison to other Alpes resorts.
There are shops and apres-ski venues aplenty, but all very low-key and very family-friendly. We liked the feel of the apres-ski venues here; cosy and super relaxed.
We stayed at the Ferienart Spa and Resort, which was quite simply the most gorgeous, romantic, cosy place I’ve ever stayed. The lobby was awash with sculpted wood, a huge open-fire and reception staff wore traditional Swiss costume; it was simply stunning.
We discovered that George Michael stayed in this hotel when he was filming Wham’s ‘Last Christmas.’ I’ve linked to the video here, where you can see the iconic Saas Fee ski-lift, which is still exactly the same. Although it was early April when we went, it still felt very Christmassy and as if we were in this video.
Ruby absolutely loved the spa, which had windows looking up to the sky and towards the traditional wooden balconies of the adjoining part of the hotel. This was so pretty at night.
There’s a jacuzzi at the top of a staircase, made to look like it’s carved from a rock-face and this is close to the adult-only sauna and lounging area, but be warned, you may catch a glimpse of some body parts you’d rather not see through the slatted wooden gate which separates this area from the main spa (Ruby and I left the hot-tub quite swiftly at that point)
Our deal included breakfast, which was buffet style, but as in breakfast-of-Kings buffet style, with continental meats and cheeses as well as the most wonderful fresh fruit, mueslis and yoghurts. Additional cooked items were ordered to your table, including Eggs Benedict, one of our favourites.
We hadn’t realised, but we also had a packed lunch prepared for us each day. Being gluten-free meant I was slightly apprehensive about what I’d be given, but each day I had the most gorgeous GF roll with Swiss cheese and ham. Ruby was most impressed that she and David had a mini-Toblerone or Ragusa in their brown lunch bag each day.
Afternoon tea was provided for when we retired from the slopes and this was something of a surprise each day, with mulled wine on some days or traditional cakes and sweets on others.
But the absolute best part of our stay here were the evening dinners, which were five courses of deluxe, Swiss cuisine. I’ve never tasted such amazing consommes before. There was a children’s menu available but Ruby ate from the adult menu each night.
The hotel had a shuttle service to transport guests to the nursery slopes and lifts. We were there during the last week of the season and so it seemed very quiet. We never had to wait more than a couple of minutes for a lift with our skis.
The nursery area in Saas Fee is really good. There’s a baby/toddler area with a mini conveyer-belt and then two other nursery runs, which were plenty wide. Both of these had button lifts to reach the top and one was slightly steeper than the other, so even though we stayed on these for the first day and a half, we felt we had progressed somewhat as we moved to the slightly steeper slope, which also had a wooded run to the left of the lift exit. I’d say this was more blue in places than green, so it was a great stepping-stone and prepared us well for our trip higher up the mountain.
Saas Fee does have a blue run which brings you back to the village at the bottom, but as it was late in the season, this was closed and so we would ski at the top and catch the lift back down. The blue run started on a narrow mountain track. I was till snow-ploughing at this point so it was a great work-out for the legs for the first three-hundred yards or so.
The blue run opened out into wide ‘motorway’ pistes, which we loved, as there was plenty of room. Being a less well-known resort also meant that there were fewer skiers here too. When it did get a little busy, I just waited at the side for a bit and continued when I was ready.
The blue slopes here had some reds which cut out sections of the blue and towards the end of the week, we were choosing those routes instead. I really liked the choice.
David and Ruby enjoyed being speed-demons and loved that out-of-control sensation. I had a few Bridget Jones moments, I have to say, without the constraints of a ski-instructor but I improved so much with David’s support and guidance. It was the most exhilarating feeling, just the three of us on top of a mountain.
There’s a snow-park half-way down, which Ruby loved trying out. And I surprised myself at the end of the week by having a go too. Unfortunately, I’m still quite ‘Bridget’ in speedy situations, my arms going into involuntary spins.
Saas Fee is famed for being the home to the world’s highest revolving restaurant, which rotates 360° in an hour, while you savour a host of international and regional delicacies. Unfortunately, we never made it up to the glacier, as the lifts were closed on our last day, due to unprecedented snowfall for the time of year.
This really was the icing on the cake for us, as it added a magical touch to what had been the most wonderful holiday. As we swam in the spa after a day of skiing on our penultimate day, we could see the snow beginning to fall; huge, fluffy snowflakes you dream of as a child. As we dressed for dinner, the snow settled and by the end of our meal, almost a foot of snow was already on the ground.
Of course, we had no choice but to go outside and jump around in it in our dinner-wear; when in Rome and all that…
You know those moments which stamp themselves in your mind, like a memory box of best times, well that was one of those. I’ll never forget Ruby’s little face as she looked up and saw those huge snowflakes against the starry sky. It was truly one of the most spine-tingling moments of my life.
The next day was like waking up in a Christmas film. Skiing was out of the question, all lifts were closed and the whole resort couldn’t believe it had snowed so heavily in the final week of the season. I like to think it was meant to be.
We spent our last day throwing snowballs, searching for the biggest icicles and drinking hot-chocolate on big settees.
If you’re thinking of booking a family ski-trip, don’t delay. I speak from the heart when I say it was amazing. You just can’t beat the cosiness of it all and if quality time is important to you, then this is a holiday you’ll love.
We’ll definitely re-visit Saas Fee in the future but for now we’re set on exploring other areas as a family across the Alpes. It would be great if you have any resort ideas to swap. Get in touch.