Frozen waterfalls in Saas Fee...

Saas Fee is tucked between towering peaks at the end of a long, winding valley. Like the white witch's frozen realm of Narnia, waterfalls are moulded in static motion the whole way along the mystical road. Nestled into the mountainside at the end of a long track lined with Swiss Pines and deciduous larches from Saas Fee is the Waldhotel Fletschhorn. It is unassuming from the outside, looking like another mountain residence. The unassuming building is a Relais & Chateaux property with a restaurant managed by the Gault Millau Chef of the Year 2007, Markus Neff.

Our room had elements of English country style: a bleached wood ceiling, crisp white walls and a pretty chaise longue. It had a divine walk-in wardrobe that I could do with at home. Complimentary toiletries included homemade soap.. very cute. The corridors of the hotel were art gallery-esque: wide and empty apart from huge canvases evoking icy glaciers and frozen lakes, sunsets over the mountains in winter and snow in wintery cities. There were rather cute lamps crafted in driftwood and pebbles illuminating large, creative rugs on the wooden floor.

The restaurant was decorated simply, but the food was exquisite. I had a six course fish menu, featuring steamed lobster and red mullet fillet. We ate for about three hours and enjoyed delicious wines from Canton Valais in the process. One of the highlights was the homely service. The hotel and restaurant are owned by a very talented trio, all of whom excel in their fields. One of my favourite delights was the homemade hot chocolate. Co-proprietor Maren Mueller explained it is made by grinding up real chocolate in the way the Spanish juice oranges. Simply naught indulgence - yum. At night, velvet darkness cloaked the hotel in the wooded clearing and the air was perfectly still. It was total, pure solitude - and heavenly. (

On Saturday we burnt off some calories on the pistes around Saas Fee. Most of them are very steep - so steep as to even make Tim nervous, and that's making a statement. However, we found a lovely little blue for me to practise my parallel turns. The weather was crystal clear, and Saas Fee is surrounded by these amazing, pure white peaks from all angles. It's a petite resort too, so ugly tower blocks don't dominate the view. We lunched at the Spielboden, a new mountain restaurant also owned by the Fletschhorn trio. It looks like your average ski canteen from the outside, until you venture inside and are greeted by a well-stocked wine fridge and staff wearing fur caps a la Davy Crockett. I enjoyed a delicious fillet of sea bass on mediterranean vegetables served with some very indulgent, buttery, homemade pasta.

We lunched for a long time, took in the splendid view and learnt that in summer, friendly marmots frequent the restaurant. Fredolin is the head marmot, and he sometimes ventures into the kitchen! Late in the afternoon, we took the lift to the top of the mountain to try a long blue run up there. The view was of neverending snowy mountaintops that prodded the sky gently like pins in a pin cushion. Late in the day though, the expanse of glacier up there was a little intimidating. The drag lift seemed to go on forever, and we saw not a soul. The freezing wind bit our faces, until eventually we reached the top of the piste.

A silvery-blue light lingered on the piste and the sun had disappeared behind the high wall of mountain. I began to ski down, while Tim took photos. I heard a huge roar, and looking beyond the lift to my left saw a huge wall of snow break off the ice wall next to us and avalanche down in a powerful, tumbling mass. At first, I was in awe. It was like you see on the TV. Then I realised it was heading straight for me. I don't think I've ever panicked so much. I yelled for Tim, tried to ski back up the hill. By the time he got to me and saw I was trembling, the avalanche had stopped about 50 metres from us. All that was left was a calm pile of snow, visibly out of its place.

 Sunday was gentler. We sledged down a beautiful, gently winding and softly graded track. It wove through woodland and open ground, offering stunning views and plenty of stopping points. The sun shone, the air was clear, the journey was magical for we were the only people there. It was a pretty end to our weekend in Saas Fee... until on the way back to the hotel we were attacked by a group of tearaway children celebrating Fasching and dressed in the most disturbing costumes that make you believe you have slipped something naughty. They whipped us with feathers and sprayed confetti in our faces, while the band drummed their drums and puffed life into their trumpets. We were shedding confetti all the way home ...
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