The plans have been drawn up and now big changes are afoot in this little Swiss village.
Nestled in the alpine valley of Urseren, in the Gotthard region in Switzerland, sits the quiet but charming town of Andermatt. Home to 1,600 people, this number is set to snowball as dramatic development of the village takes place to turn it into an attractive, all-year-round destination.
Benefiting from an investment of 1.8 billion Swiss Francs (£1.1 billion), completion of the Andermatt Swiss Alps project will see an expansion of the Andermatt-Sedrun ski area to create over 120 kilometres of ski runs, making it the largest ski region in central Switzerland. Olympic skier Bernhard Russi has been drafted in to consult on the runs. The aim is for Andermatt to be able to compete with the bigger, more well-known ski-resorts, and it is getting there slowly but surely. There will also be a clubhouse built to go alongside the already-open 18-hole golf course. Six hotels (4 and 5-star), 490 apartments and about 25 chalets will be built too.
1. SKIING: A brilliant place to develop your skiing technique. There are two mountain areas offering differing terrain so there are plenty of runs to suit all levels whether you’re just starting out or prefer to go off-piste. The Natschen-Oberalp-Sedrun slopes enjoy a lot of sunshine so are ideal if you want a more scenic approach, whereas Gemsstock’s wider expanses and steep descents make for an excellent, challenging glacier run.
2. GOLF: The 18-hole, par 72 championship golf course sits on the former training ground for the Swiss army and makes for a real picturesque golfing experience. Complete with deep roughs, water traps and holes that run through hills and glens, this green will test even the most seasoned of players.
3. MOUNTAIN BIKING: With 250 kilometres of pure alpine landscape, what an exhilarating way to explore the village and neighbouring mountains during the summer. There are bike tours to suit the casual cyclist or to challenge the avid rider – either way, moving faster through the terrain means you take in so much more of the region.
4. HIKING: Or, keep both feet firmly on the ground and take on a five-day, 85-kilometre super-hike. Gotthard is unique in that it is home to the sources of four rivers, the Rhine, Reuss, Ticino and Rhone that flow to all four points of the compass. The Four Springs Trail takes you to each source, allowing you to experience the wonderful peaks and glaciers of each trail.
5. FONDUE: After tackling the above, you deserve a treat. How about an enormous vat of molten cheese fondue? The one served by the Ochsen restaurant (Gotthardstrasse 72, 6490 Andermatt) is lauded by locals and now we know why. It’s deliciously intoxicating thanks to a generous swig of kirsch and thus, warms the soul. The restaurant is charming too – part of it still retains the original features from the horse stable attached to it.
Sitting majestically in the heart of Andermatt is The Chedi Andermatt (Gotthardstrasse 4, 6490 Andermatt), a five-star hotel that represents the flagship of the resort. Designed by architect Jean-Michel Gathy, the hotel is a grand showcase of alpine-Asian influences that perfectly balance the need for opulence but also real warmth and intimacy in its surroundings. Dark wood, metal fittings and stone walls, all locally-sourced materials, are signature features but the open, vast nature of the space means you never feel intimidated by the brooding interiors.
There is plenty to explore in the hotel – there is a wine and cigar library, complete with roaring fireplace with a view into the courtyard space, a cheese room with some of the best artisanal cheeses in town, a living room where your ski-butler can attend to your every need avant and apres-ski, as well as a magnificent spa complete with heated hydrotherapy pools, steam baths, saunas and private treatment rooms. Fine-dining also comes with a bit theatre – the main restaurant is centred around four open, specialist kitchens so you can watch the chefs as they prepare your dishes.
Rooms are enormous, wondrously comfortable and very high-tech. A dedicated iPad allows you to operate the lighting, blinds, fireplace, entertainment system and audio from anywhere in your room. There are incredibly thoughtful details throughout, particularly a window that sits perfectly at eye-level across the room so you can gaze into the mountains as you lie in your Acqua di Parma-bubble bath.
The build, service, attention to detail and sense of wellbeing after a visit makes this one of the finest hotels we’ve stayed in and certainly one from which you will begin to judge all others by. If you can’t bear to leave, the hotel also offers permanent residences for sale from 1.8 million Swiss Francs (£1.1 million).