Surprisingly, Saas Fee is centuries old – surprising, because until the mid-20th century, you could only reach it by donkey. Because of those burro-riding travelers, Saas Fee celebrated 125 years of tourism in 2006. Encircled by mountains, this Christmas-card village metaphorically sits at the bottom of a box canyon. At nearly 6,000 feet Nature’s strength is omnipresent with surrounding, snow covered peaks and massive glaciers. All reasons the first road from the valley only opened in the 1950’s. The encroaching Fee Glacier is so overwhelming one can almost reach out to touch it from the hotel’s balcony. The village still peers over the edge to the Saaser Valley, Sunday mornings Saas Fee’s women still attend church in native dress and their men still tend sheep in centuries-old stilted barns.
Saas Fee with no cars is perfect for families. By European standards, its surrounding natural bowl forms a more compact ski area than other European resorts. For this past season, they put in the new Spielboden and Felskinn cable cars, both with wifi. Saas Fee, with three freestyle parks is reputed to have Switzerland’s best snowboarding. A dozen mountain restaurants will surely please anyone’s culinary palette. Like Zermatt, children under nine years, ski for free. Ski passes include the whole Saastal region with 36 lifts and 95 miles of marked runs. Even though Saas Fee may be smaller than many other European resorts, this winter it’ll be part of Switzerland’s Magic Pass which includes 30 relatively nearby resorts and more than 720 miles of trails. Go to magicpass.ch for more information.