SAAS FEE, SWITZERLAND - Beautiful, car-free village with slopes on top of the world.

by Louis Bignami

Saas-Fee is one of our favorite places. It oozes Swiss charm and the setting is stunning - spectacular glaciers and 4000m peaks surround the place.

If only the s kiing matched the scenery and the charm! For many intermediates it does, but good skiers are likely to get bored quickly with the limited extent and challenges of the slopes. The extensive glacier slopes are gentle and easy - and the glacier itself severely restricts the area's development. The tight ring of high peaks can also make the village dark and cold in midwinter, which is good for the snow, not so good for those wanting to sit on restaurant terraces or those on the beginner slopes. But Saas-Fee's snow reliability is unbeatable, especially if you're taking a late holiday. With much of the area above 2500m, snow conditions are often excellent when many other resorts are struggling to keep runs open. The question is: can you put up with a limited choice of runs and the occasional lunchtime shiver in exchange for perfect packed powder?

What's Great
What's Not-So-Great

+ Spectacular setting amid high peaks and glaciers

+ Traditional, 'traffic-free' village

+ Good percentage of high-altitude, snow sure slopes

+ Powerful lift access to highest slopes for year-round skiing

+ Good facilities - even a slope where skis and snowboards are banned

? Disappointingly small area of slopes, with mainly easy runs

? Glacier stifles off-slope potentia

? Much of the area is in shadow in midwinter - cold and dark

? Bad weather can shut the slopes

? Parts of the village are inconvenient for the slopes - quite a bit of walking involved