In the canton of Uri lies Andermatt, an old village in the Ursen Valley up in the Swiss Alps. Just a two-hour drive from Zurich, Andermatt is lauded for its strategic location, being at the crossroads of Switzerland’s north-south and east-west passes. In the height of military conflict in the 18th and 19th centuries, this served well for the Swiss Federal Army who moved in and Andermatt became one of the country’s most important military bases. However, its prosperity as an “army village” dwindled when the army pared down its training centers by the end of the 1990s, thus affecting Andermatt’s economy for the last two decades.
Up until today, the quaint village houses a small population, largely comprising locals who retired from the city life. The narrow cobblestone streets are lined with country-styled chalets and locally run delicatessens and retail stores housed in the age-old architectural structures of concrete basements and towering alpine wood exteriors. At one point, majority of the town’s trade depended on farming and small businesses, and at the very least, the townspeople were consoled that the surrounding idyllic nature — blooming meadows in the summer and opaline snowy peaks in the winter — remained as so.
A NEW WELCOME
However, it is exactly the very nature of Andermatt that rejuvenated itself, for in 2005, Egyptian- Montenegrin entrepreneur Samih Sawiris saw potential in Andermatt’s location and its beautiful valleys. With a reported CHF1.1 billion (S$1.5 billion) in investments, Andermatt has since been transformed from a quiet, forgotten town into one of Switzerland’s top winter holiday destinations.
Grand plans have since taken place in the Ursen Valley, where Sawiris’ new company, Andermatt Swiss Alps, launched new apartment buildings, an 18-hole golf course, new ski areas, and new hotels, the first being the opulent 5-star luxury hotel and residences, The Chedi. Opened in 2013 and designed by Denniston International Architects, the hotel champions the use of wood, leather and stone accents, housing suites up to over 3,767 square feet, that’s enjoyed in the five bedroom Gotthard Suite.
Situated in the heart of Andermatt, the grand hotel is hard to miss. It boasts an extravagantly modern exterior, with dark timber and a glass-paneled porte cochère. Supercars line the cobblestone driveway, not to mention a charging station set up exclusively for Porsche electric cars. Upon entry, one is greeted by a 30-meter-long reception bar that’s carved from sleek black stone, and illuminated by an equally long Swarovski chandelier.
Drinking and dining at the Chedi allows one to explore the hotel’s vast collections, starting from its expansive cheese range (the largest in Europe) in a towering cheese tower, to the invaluable array of wines that spills over in private dining rooms and the wine library, or dabbling in saké of all sorts in one- Michelin star The Japanese Restaurant. Chedi’s flagship dining space at The Restaurant features four open studio kitchens, each one serving dishes from Asian to European influences. Other recreational spaces include the cigar lounge, a fitness center, sauna, and an indoor-to-outdoor lap pool.
HOLIDAY LIVING IN ANDERMATT
Hotel and residential developments in Andermatt’s new village already boast new apartment buildings, with several more on the way. With each building designed by different architects, each one adopts a unique theme, such as the Altera, designed with an eclectic Jenga-like exterior and home to eleven luxury apartments and a penthouse. Floor-to-ceiling windows across the dining hall and living room give way to prime views of the river Reuss, and come winter, the snow-white peaks of the Alpine mountains are ready to welcome you and your well-preserved skis in Altera’s dedicated ski room that’s tastefully clad in fir wood.
What sets Andermatt apart from the other alpine destinations is that it is the only one exempted from Switzerland’s Federal Law, informally known as “Lex Koller”. By definition, regardless of whether international buyers are domiciled in Switzerland or not, they may buy apartments and houses in Holiday Village Andermatt Reuss without a permit and without limitation, and they may sell with no minimum holding time. “[Across our properties], 5.4% of our buyers come from Singapore,” revealed Maureen Yeo, Regional Director of Andermatt, Swiss Alps for Asia.
Come winter or next summer, if one has exhausted the likes of Zermatt or St. Mortiz, we urge you to pick the Andermatt next and experience the charm for yourself — before the rest of the world comes flocking in.