luxury living space
open plan living room

An impression of the ‘Tiger’s Eye’ bespoke decorative scheme for one of the Chedi Gems, a series of penthouses in The Chedi Andermatt hotel

A major hotel, property and infrastructure development has swept the village of Andermatt in Switzerland onto the world stage of luxury. Karen Chung speaks to some of the key shapers of the future of this still-expanding project, which has attracted real estate buyers from around the world

For such a little place, Andermatt punches well above its weight. With its seductive mix of luxury hotels and apartments, restaurants, boutiques and a chic cultural centre nestled around the historic village, it is a glamorous playground in the heart of the Swiss Alps.

This sleepy little skiing village was reawakened with the arrival of The Chedi Andermatt, the five-star hotel and residences masterminded by Jean-Michel Gathy, the lauded hotel designer behind the soaring Aman Canal Grande Venice, LVMH’s Cheval Blanc Randheli and the soon-to-open Aman New York. Launched in 2013, The Chedi Andermatt pulled off a pleasing paradox: a relaxed riff on the classic Swiss chalet with an undeniably Asian influence, ultra-aspirational yet delightfully relaxed and unstuffy. With 50 hotel rooms, 107 residences and 13 penthouses, award-winning restaurants, a first-rate fitness centre and a state-of-the-art spa, cigar and wine libraries, ski-in ski-out facilities and even a flotilla of ski butlers to warm your boots, it swiftly won a slew of awards, including Gault Millau Hotel of the Year in 2017.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Over the phone from Kuala Lumpur, where he has lived for 40 years, Gathy muses over The Chedi Andermatt’s show-stopping design interpretation of Swiss chalet heritage. “People ask me, why did you design in an Asian style, but the stone, wood, fireplace, leather, everything is Swiss! The Chedi Andermatt is totally Swiss. The window size, balustrades, materials, everything follows Swiss codes – and believe me, Switzerland has a lot of codes! There’s no one single architectural or design feature that’s Asian. What is Asian is the layering of the space and the lighting, which enhances the layering by creating depth of field.

“I’m from a traditional European background, but when you live in Asia this long you unconsciously assimilate the attitude, the culture, the habits, the values. You do it consciously at first, then you just absorb it. For me, design is an emotional expression of an inner feeling. You just feel this is the way it should be.

Jean-Michel Gathy. Courtesy Jean-Michel Gathy

“And what makes The Chedi Andermatt different is the layering. Think of Europe and how you move from room to room. In Asia, it’s not like that. You don’t have a door from one room to another, you have screens. The flow is very different. You’re always somewhere but you never know where. I don’t do this on purpose anymore. It’s the way I think. In luxury, there’s more emotion. So, when you apply that layering to the logic, you get The Chedi Andermatt. It’s dynamic, layered, pleasant, comfortable, and it serves its purpose.

“I’ve designed luxury resorts my whole life, and know my clientele very well,” he adds. “I’m very lucky. In luxury there’s room for creativity and emotion, and I know how to use the tools to translate that understanding. I design exactly the way I am and create every single project by hand. It’s very natural.”

luxury living space

A render of a living space in one of the penthouses at The Chedi Andermatt

Indeed, your first instinct as you arrive is to kick back, curl up and gaze at those expansive mountain views from the comfort of the capacious sofas. Gathy’s response to an exacting brief was an intuitive one, perfectly fitted to how we want to live now.

Read more: How to create a truly sustainable luxury hotel

The wealthy have long been attracted to Switzerland but buying here has been notoriously hard. All residences in Andermatt, however, are exempt from the Lex Koller law, which limits foreign ownership of Swiss property, while a popular scheme that manages and rents out apartments while owners are away adds to buyer appeal. It’s seriously accessible, too – just 90 minutes’ drive from Zurich, two hours from Milan and four from Munich, while private jets and helicopters can fly to Buochs Airport, a 45-minute drive away.

spa bathroom

An impression of a private penthouse spa at The Chedi Andermatt

“The past year changed everything,” says Russell Collins, the amiable British head of real estate who’s also on the Andermatt development board. “But we really didn’t envisage how busy we were going to be. We’ve sold over CHF500 millions’ [£394.5m] worth of apartments – almost everything we had available – and 2020 was a record year. There were obviously a lot of people sitting at home thinking, we could be skiing now…! Roughly half the buyers are Swiss, half are international – many from neighbouring countries such as Italy and Germany, as well as from the UK, and also Singapore, Hong Kong and Russia. We’re selling the last few remaining Chedi Andermatt penthouses now, which can be fitted out by our team of architects and interior designers, who work with the buyer to their exact spec.” Penthouses start from CHF6.2 million [£4.9m] for a 333 sq m space.”

Developers are also working with Protect Our Winters (POW) to preserve the unique microclimate that makes Andermatt a skiing paradise. Sustainability has been at the heart of the development from the start, with The Chedi Andermatt and all private residences built to stringent Minergie standards for low-energy-consumption buildings. Services run on natural resources (and, refreshingly, are hidden below ground), and in winter an electric bus zips round the car-free development.

swiss mountain village

Andermatt with the new village quarter of Andermatt Reuss to its left. Photograph by Valentin Luthiger

Perhaps the biggest challenge for Andermatt is nailing that all-important lifestyle mix as it becomes a year-round destination without losing its still relatively low-key charm. Its burgeoning mix of hotels, apartments and chalets nestle alongside traditional historic buildings and an expanding boutique retail and restaurant offering. And in summer, as well as hiking and walking, there’s the option of golf on the award-winning course. And after coming to an abrupt halt, its annual music programme is also reviving after an 18-month hiatus.

“I think residents are really encouraged by the fact that we’re so committed to making this a great place to live,” says Collins. “The danger is that we just become a ski resort for the winter months, but we’re looking hard at the year-round offer, creating life at street level and making it a joyful place to spend time.” It’s for the next wave of pioneering buyers to see how well Andermatt achieves that.

The Chedi Andermatt Spa and Health Club

There are spas, and then there is the spa at The Chedi Andermatt, a multi-award-winning, divinely decadent 2,400 sq m temple to wellness. Exclusive organic products are a key feature of the spa; particular highlights are the Tata Harper Natural Glow from Head-to-Toe Ritual and the divinely relaxing Oromovizca Golden Full Body Massage, inspired by the curative properties of Hungarian thermal waters and which includes an invigorating gold-and-sugar peel. The health club boasts the very latest TechnoGym equipment and there’s a hydrothermal spa with a seemingly endless array of baths and saunas, as well as a stunning 35m indoor pool, the longest in Switzerland.

cheese selection

The cheese tower of local Swiss cheeses at The Restaurant

The Restaurant at The Chedi Andermatt

“A sense of occasion for our guests is key,” says Armin Egli, Executive Chef at The Chedi Andermatt, “and creating great experiences is a big part of that. In our four open-plan kitchen stations in The Restaurant, guests can take a seat at the chef’s table to watch food being prepared, whether that’s Asian-inspired delicacies, traditional Swiss fare, or simply see our pastry chefs at work. We also have a five-metre-tall cheese tower, currently showcasing 43 cheeses unique to Switzerland; guests can taste and learn the story behind each one. And we often reinstate favourite dishes. Black pepper beef is a stand-out favourite from the Asian kitchen that we keep having to bring back by popular demand. If it’s not on the menu when you visit, just ask…”

Find out more: andermatt-swissalps.ch

This article was originally published in the Autumn 2021 issue.

Share:
Reading time: 7 min
swiss palace hotel
swiss palace hotel

Suvretta House overlooks the Upper Engadine valley. Image courtesy of Suvretta House. 

High in the Swiss Alps, LUX indulges in a gastronomic tour like no other, all under the auspices of one hotel

It’s summertime, and what we crave is sunshine, blue sky, space, views, freedom and a change in cuisine. All uncontroversial except for the last – why would we want to change the way we eat? Perhaps because for many of us in the fortunate minority in the world, even during the lockdown cycle, a great variety of cuisines has become the norm. Temaki and uromaki delivered tonight; Vietnamese cha cua and mi quang tomorrow; miso Chilean sea bass the next. Freed from choosing restaurants for the experience they offer, we have spent a lot of time choosing them purely for their variety of cuisine.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

We reflected on this last summer, during a release from the first wave, sitting at the Chasellas restaurant above St Moritz. For generations, great European dining has been about being welcomed by a host who recognises you; typically, a besuited maitre d’ of an older generation, as comfortable giving orders to staff as he is joining favoured customers for a cognac after hours. We were welcomed by Livia Sterki, a smiling young woman ostensibly as far removed from the traditional maitre d’ image as can be imagined: her charm and efficiency were so memorable it made us want to go back every night.

fine dining

The hotel’s cuisine focuses on local ingredients. Image courtesy of Suvretta House. 

The Chasellas is decorated in Alpine mountain inn style, lots of pine, bare-backed wooden seats, and a terrace with a view over the rooftops of the village of Champfèr, across forests and lakes to the towering mountains of the Bernina range across the valley. The cuisine of chef Marco Kind is not only fine: it is unlike anything you will ever find in a metropolitan hub.

There’s a combination of mountain purity, local ingredients, and a local Swiss authenticity, and a lightness of touch. Beef entrecôte sous-vide, datterini tomatoes and summer truffle was both satisfying and light; essence of wild mushrooms with shiitake and agnolotti was a kind of ultimate consommé (and vegan); and even the non-vegetarians went for the variation of peas with mountain peach, radish, asparagus and macadamia. Another vibrant main course was spring chicken braised in apple with young vegetables, local potatoes and wild mushrooms.

Beef tartar with oysters, miso and caviar. Image courtesy of Suvretta House. 

The cuisine was like eating the Alps and went delightfully with what is commonly referred to as the “local chardonnay”. In fact, the Engadine valley is too high for growing grapes, but the modest moniker refers to chardonnay from the Bündner Herrschaft, two valleys over at lower altitude, which is in fact emerging as one of Europe’s most brilliant yet unknown fine-wine regions. The wines have the same freshness as the cuisine.

Read more: The beauty and biodiversity of Andermatt’s golf course

The Chasellas is part of the dining offering of a single-hotel resort, Suvretta House, which brings us to the second point of this story: being able to luxuriate in different dining experiences under one resort banner is not confined to swanky brands on tropical islands. Interestingly, Suvretta House’s owners and its managers, the mind-bendingly hard-working Peter and Esther Egli, have decided not to bring in outside brands, but to create all their dining themselves.

terrace

The hotel’s terrace with views over Lake Silvaplana and Lake Sils. Image courtesy of Suvretta House. 

It’s a five-minute walk downhill to Suvretta House from the Chasellas, past a couple of very nice chalets (or a 20-second ski in the winter season, past the hotel’s own lift). Suvretta is one of St Moritz’s original palace hotels, and everything about it suggests old money, aristocracy and a clubbish feel, in the nicest possible way. You’re more likely to see a classic Ferrari parked outside than a new one.

alpine river

horses in woodland

Idyllic paths through the meadow and woodland around the hotel bring unexpected sights. Images by Isabella Sheherazade Sanai (top) and Darius Sanai.

The hotel overlooks a wavy forest, stretching up the valley towards the Italian border; St Moritz itself is out of sight just around the corner of the mountain. Just above the swimming pool and huge lawn overlooking the view is the Stube restaurant, cosy and hearty in design, where you might expect to eat rib-thickening traditional mountain food. But not here; or not quite, anyway. Isaac Briceño Obando, the chef in charge of this culinary hotspot (each of Suvretta House’s restaurants is a destination in itself), blends simplicity (Wild Kelly flat oysters; Iranian beluga caviar) with purity (saddle of lamb smoked in hay; A4 wagyu tenderloin plain grilled) and tradition (sliced Zurich-style veal in cream) with just a touch of the exotic (Maine lobster salad, pumpkin, kalamansi and miso). So relaxing is the Stube experience that the lockdown limitations on seating times (gone soon, we hope) felt almost intrusive.

fine dining dish

Chicken with carrots and a Sauternes jus

Upstairs, the centrepiece of the hotel is the Grand Restaurant, a dining room with a Belle Époque flair whose New Year’s Eve parties are the stuff of legend (and many years of waiting lists). Watching Europe’s grand aristocracy waft back and forth there one evening was an experience in itself (at the time of going to press, the hotel is not sure whether regulations will allow the Grand to reopen for the summer season). High on the mountainside above Suvretta there is also the Trutz restaurant with a kind of rustic-Swiss chic serving air-dried beef, pastas, barley soup and salads with local cheeses – an excellent tonic after hiking up there.

Read more: Umberta Beretta on fund-raising for the arts

alpine valley

The river En (Inn) beneath the hotel

There is far more to the Suvretta House than its cuisine; the rooms, fresh and Swiss-luxurious, have an eternally epic view across forests and mountains; the indoor pool-with-a-view is huge; and the gardens (and utterly charming woodland childrens’ playground) are addictive. But this summer, there is nothing that will stop us indulging in a gastronomic tour of its restaurants and the sublime service and views. Something no home delivery service will ever offer.

Find out more: suvrettahouse.ch

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue.

Share:
Reading time: 5 min
grand swiss hotel
grand swiss hotel

The Badrutt’s Palace hotel’s grand frontage and its iconic tower.

High in St Moritz, the grandest hotel in the Alps has just been revitalised. There’s nowhere better to take the summer air with your entourage than Badrutt’s

What could be better than the Helen Badrutt Suite at Badrutt’s Palace? Yes, we know there are some pretty swanky hotel suites out there. The Abu Dhabi suite at the St Regis in the namesake emirate has its own spiral staircase and cinema. The Presidential Suite at the Mandarin Oriental in Pudong, Shanghai, has floor-to-ceiling windows over the city and its own wine cellar and roof garden. Stay at Seven South at the Ritz Carlton in Grand Cayman and as well as 11 bedrooms, you get a free painting to take home.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

But still. Enter the Helen Badrutt and you don’t feel like you have arrived, or paid what it takes, so much as having been granted entry to a very exclusive club, in one of the world’s most desirable pinpoint locations. Badrutt’s Palace is the acme of palace hotels in St Moritz, the world’s most exclusive mountain resort. It’s the fact that it has been so for more than a century, despite its location 1,800m up in the Swiss Alps, that provides a clue to the exclusivity: this is where blue bloods, royals, pretenders and their circle have played for more than 100 years.

luxurious hotel drawing room

The drawing room of the Helen Badrutt Suite

When the Shah of Iran decided to celebrate the 2,500th anniversary of the Persian Empire with the grandest dinner in the history of the world in Persepolis in 1971 (an act of indulgence that ultimately contributed to his downfall in the Islamic Revolution), he flew in the staff from Badrutt’s Palace. And staying in the Helen Badrutt, you are the crème de la crème of the hotel’s guests (or perhaps the Shahanshah).

Read more: Speaking with America’s new art icon Rashid Johnson

It might be the living room, with its grand décor, bottomless drinks cabinet refilled with spirits in decanters (no tacky miniatures here), Persian carpets and chandelier; or the balcony terrace looking out over Lake St Moritz and the mountain beyond, big enough to host a party for 20 people (we did); or the silent-quiet bedroom or marble bathroom; or that it can interconnect privately to form an entire wing of ten bedrooms.

outdoor swimming pool

The Badrutt’s Palace pool overlooking Lake St Moritz

Maybe it’s the butler service, which, unlike some more thrusting hotels, is almost entirely seen and not heard, Jeeves-style (we don’t know about you, but we don’t need butlers knocking on our door and asking what to do; they should know already, as they do at Badrutt’s).

In any case, staying in the Helen Badrutt bestows upon the visitor a sense of history, transforming the humble paying guest into a multi-suffixed European aristocrat with seats in each major city of the Holy Roman Empire and a foundation in a castled town in Westphalia from where a tweed-suited team of faithful retainers disburse philanthropic goodness to worthy institutions around the world. Or so it feels, anyway.

Read more: Sophie Neuendorf on Georgia O’Keeffe’s enduring influence

And even if that nuance escapes you, there is the rest of this glorious destination to enjoy. The Palace driver (there is a Rolls-Royce, of course) will whisk you to the foot of the Languard chairlift in nearby Pontresina, for example, from where you waft upwards through a magical larch forest where unknown creatures seemingly create tiny gardens in tree stumps; and from the top of which there is a view to the end of the Roseg valley where mountains live in permanent winter.

hotel suite drawing room

A newly refreshed St Moritz Suite

Or if you prefer to stay in St Moritz, Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Hermès, Chopard, et al, are metres, or in some cases centimetres, from the Palace. And if you prefer to stay in the
hotel itself, there’s the swimming pool with its celebrated rock garden to dive from (a kind of mini Alpine Acapulco) and spa, tennis courts, adventure playground and kids’ club.

And the best thing? Well, even old money needs refreshing sometime, and during lockdown the Palace has had more than 40 of its rooms and suites redecorated – the official word is “refreshed” – by New York design studio Champalimaud, which has brought fresh blues and whites and a kind of Alpine light to the rooms. Which means that even if you’re not old-guard enough, there’s a place for you.

Book your stay: badruttspalace.com

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 Issue.

Share:
Reading time: 4 min
black and white portrait man and woman
woman by swimming pool

‘Faye Dunaway, Morning After Winning Oscar’, 1976. Photograph by Terry O’Neill, Iconic Images courtesy of Maddox Gallery

Over the course of his 60 year career, Terry O’Neill photographed the world’s most famous celebrities, but the true power of his images comes from the intimacy of his lens, his ability to see beyond the glamour to reveal the true spirit of the individual.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Audrey Hepburn

‘Audrey Hepburn, Plays Cricket’, South of France, 1966. Photograph by Terry O’Neill, Iconic Images courtesy of Maddox Gallery

portrait of men laughing

‘Peter Sellers and Roger Moore’, Beverly Hills, 1970s. Photograph by Terry O’Neill, Iconic Images courtesy of Maddox Gallery

Born in Romford, Essex, O’Neill’s family intended him to join the Catholic priesthood, but he ended up leaving school at 15 to play drums in a band, which eventually led him to photography. He trailed behind bands such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, and walked onto film sets in Europe and Hollywood, quickly befriending many of the stars which allowed him access to their private lives and resulted in long-lasting relationships. He photographed David Bowie over a twenty year period, capturing his artistic evolution from Space Oddity singer to Ziggy Stardust to Thin White Duke, Muhammad Ali relaxing in an arm chair reading a paper, Richard Burton wearing a shower cap in the bath, Brigitte Bardot posing with a cigar between her teeth and Audrey Hepburn playing cricket on the lawn in the South of France amongst many others.

Read more: 3 fine dining recipes by Le Clarence head chef Christophe Pelé

woman smoking cigar

‘Brigitte Bardot’, Spain, 1971. Photograph by Terry O’Neill, Iconic Images courtesy of Maddox Gallery

black and white portrait man and woman

‘Jean Shrimpton and Terence Stamp,’ London, 1964. Photograph by Terry O’Neill, Iconic Images courtesy of Maddox Gallery

The first retrospective of the British photographer’s work (he died in 2019) Every Picture Tells a Story at Maddox Gallery in Gstaad brings together a collection of these candid, photojournalistic portraits, revealing both how O’Neill pioneered the concept of behind-the-scenes reportage and captured the essence of a bygone era.

‘Every Picture Tells a Story’ runs until 29 August at Maddox Gallery, Gstaad, Switzerland. For more information visit: maddoxgallery.co.uk

 

Share:
Reading time: 1 min
Render of apartment
Render of apartment

One of the luxury apartments in the Arve building with spectacular views of the surrounding landscape

Two new apartment buildings in the Swiss village of Andermatt offer the calm and luxury of contemporary Alpine living. LUX speaks to the architects behind the designs

The historic village of Andermatt is fast becoming one of Switzerland’s most desirable year-round destinations offering a variety of winter and summer sports, activities, dining options, and accommodation. Located in the village’s car-free area known as Andermatt Reuss, Arve and Enzian are the development’s latest apartment buildings, designed to harmonise with the traditional alpine setting whilst catering to a contemporary luxury lifestyle.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Designed by CAS Architects, the Arve building comprises 17 apartments with spectacular views of the village and surrounding mountains whilst the Enzian building comprises 12 apartments designed by Swiss architecture firm Schmid Generalunternehmung. Here, Michael Häfliger of CAS Architects and Men Vital of Schmid Generalunternehmung talk us through the design concepts for each property.

What inspired the design intent for Arve and Enzian, and what differentiates the two properties?

Michael Häfliger: In the design for Arve alpine tradition meets contemporary with clear forms and natural charisma. We have combined cosy ambience, warmth and rustic security with the need for high comfort. 
These exclusive apartments are as dignified and enduring as the Swiss pine trees after which the building was named (Arve is the German name for the Swiss pine). Much like the noblest tree in the mountain landscape, the Arve Chalet Apartments offer spectacular views of the world below.

Read more: Three top gallerists on how the art world is changing

Men Vital: The Enzian Alpine Apartments are styled on modern Alpine villas. We wanted each apartment to provide the ideal place to sit back and unwind after an active day in Andermatt, with an atmosphere as calming as the Alpine herb after which the building is named (Enzian is German for “gentian”). Some of the apartments feature a fireplace and sauna, and some boast a private roof terrace or a garden terrace on the raised ground level. The private gardens are raised above the level of the adjacent paths, allowing residents to relax in privacy whilst the interiors are designed to fit all the needs of a peaceful Alpine lifestyle.

detail interior shot

Arve’s apartments combine alpine tradition with contemporary furnishings

How much of a consideration was the resort’s heritage and commitment to sustainability?

Michael Häfliger: When developing the design for Arve, we greatly considered the inclusion of the local conditions and the extraction of the resort’s identity by creating features as important prerequisites during the planning. The urban structure of the central zone of Andermatt does not follow an orthogonal grid and does not show any symmetry. Crystalline building forms, narrow and wide alleys merge into an urban density and create spatial tensions. We have taken up and adapted this atmosphere with the building structure. The interior of the building does not follow a grid either and arranges the apartments in a free structure whilst the external appearance takes up elements that are typical for the location, such as bay windows, stone plinths or wooden facades, and translates them into a contemporary form.

CAS Architects have been committed to sustainability in its mission statement for years. Conscious use of resources is a matter of course for us and has also led to efficient processes and procedures at Arve. The building materials and construction materials were procured as far as possible in the Ursern valley and the landscaping consists exclusively of local plants. Arve also meets all the criteria of the Minergie standard and is certified accordingly. High-quality external insulation and a ventilated wood cladding façade underline the sustainable energy concept.

interiors of an apartment

luxury apartment interior

Here and above: Enzian apartments feature luxurious interiors with unique detailing such as parquet flooring

Men Vital: The design of the Enzian building took the specifications from the architectural competition into account and buildings will be constructed to the Minergie standard with controlled ventilation. Mineral-insulated rock wool has been used for the façades, which is a high-quality, non-combustible material with a high sound insulation value. The use of fibre concrete is similar in quality to natural stone and the flat roof is extensively greened, which increases the outflow of water and helps to create a better ambient climate.

Can you talk us through some of the materials that were used for the interiors?

Michael Häfliger: High quality and timelessness underline the Alpine character and so precious and durable materials such as wood, natural stone, glass and steel dominate the design of Arve.

Read more: Meet the winners of Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation’s awards

Men Vital: Durability and quality were taken into account when selecting materials. For example, we used parquet flooring and wet room panels with an oriental-style design.

open plan apartment

The open-plan living space in one of Arve’s apartments

How do the designs fit into the larger Andermatt Swiss Alps development?

Michael Häfliger: With Arve, the Alpine tradition of Andermatt is continued, and the chalet style is interpreted in a modern, self-confident way. The exclusive apartment building is strongly reminiscent of the character of the Arve; it takes up the sublimity and tranquility of the pine tree and creates a clear reference to the surroundings. The house has an unusual form that creates exciting exterior and interior spaces.

Men Vital: Enzian house is distinguished by its cubic architecture with a frescoed roof, bay window, loggias, and plinth. This is further emphasised by the window partitions in sandstone look, which are reminiscent of a traditional patrician house. It sets an extraordinary accent within the Andermatt Reuss area of the resort due to its architectural form and its lower height compared to the neighbouring properties. In terms of colour, the house is based on the wider surroundings; it is like a rock covered with lichen.

Find out more: andermatt-swissalps.ch

Share:
Reading time: 5 min
Luxury lakeside hotel
Luxury lakeside hotel

Badrutt’s Palace overlooking Lake St Moritz

St Moritz is well known as the winter playground of Europe’s rich and aristocratic. But don’t dismiss the resort, and especially its venerable and truly grand hotel Badrutt’s Palace, as a summer destination

One single word: Badrutt’s. Among a certain crowd, it conjures up associations: dancing in King’s Club after a long day’s skiing and après-skiing; bumping into billionaires in their Moncler in the wood-panelled corridors; and probably the most desirable (in a conventional way) New Year’s Eve gala in the world. (It may also whip up associations of bedrooms looking out over the frozen lake, though that would mean you don’t actually own a place of your own to winter in St Moritz – tsk.)

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

But there’s another Badrutt’s, in another St Moritz. They may be geographically identical, but the summertime town, and Palace, are a different world, and perhaps not yet as well discovered.

Our suite (declaration: we don’t own a place in St Moritz) opened out onto a balcony terrace on which we strolled on the first night, gazing across the lake, up to the mountains beyond, and along the broad Engadine valley in both directions. In summer on the mountains, myriad textures and colours replace winter’s uniform white and brown of snow and rock. A deep-green forest around the grey-blue lake; emerald meadows; high pasture the colour of a dying weeping willow; peak rockscapes in black and grey, slashed by snow, still there from the wintertime blizzards, high up. All looking back at us on our balcony.

luxury hotel room

One of the hotel’s Village Deluxe rooms

Unlike some self-proclaimed palace hotels, Badrutt’s really does feel like a palace. The grand state rooms are places to stroll through in your most formal clothes (you can wander around in hiking gear, but somehow it doesn’t feel right) and in Le Restaurant, the grand dining room, you need to dress formally to match the ambience.

And what an ambience; here it seems you are walking past le tout of Europe’s old aristocracy. The lady at the corner table wearing a gown at breakfast reading the international New York Times every morning; that cluster of teenagers who look like the Romanovs; the artist wearing a smart deep-blue blazer who doesn’t just look like X; he is X. (We wouldn’t name names.)

Read more: Fashion superstar Giorgio Armani on his global empire

And there’s much more to the dining experience than that. We spent one delightful evening in Chesa Veglia, an old house across the street that has been converted into possibly the world’s most upmarket pizzeria (they sometimes allow children to make their own pizzas here, but we’re not supposed to say that). This is relaxed Palace, informal Palace, Palace with its hair down, wearing an Italian-stallion leather bracelet, drinking Ornellaia by the gallon. The food is perfect pizza, and the staff seem to be having as much fun as the guests.

yachting on a lake

Sailing on the lake in the hotel’s yacht

St Moritz in summer is more influenced by the weather of the Mediterranean than northern Europe, so long sunny days are likely; on the one day of cloud we had in our week, we escaped into the vast indoor pool area, which has its own rock mountain off which kids can dive. The deep-tissue massages are as thorough as you would expect a mountain spa to offer.

There are rumours of more developments soon, including a Badrutt’s chalet in the mountains to escape to. Watch this space, or better still, just go.

Darius Sanai

Book your stay: badruttspalace.com

This article was originally published in the Summer 2020 Issue.

Share:
Reading time: 3 min
glacial alpine lake
glacial alpine lake

The Göscheneralpsee reservoir west of Andermatt is fed by the Dammastock glaciers.

Climate change is creating challenges for mountain resorts the world over. In Switzerland, a new luxury resort is leading the way in incorporating ecologically sound design into every aspect of their development. Jenny Southan discovers the innovations and advances being made in Andermatt

We all know that climate change is a problem, but for ski resorts, which rely on consistently sufficient snowfall, the challenge is particularly pressing – as snow, especially at lower altitudes, decreases, many will be forced to shut down (hundreds have already been abandoned across the Alps). And as the number of ‘snow-certain’ destinations dwindle, there is the added problem that by 2050, half of Switzerland’s 4,000 glaciers are forecast to have disappeared.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

However, the good news is that humans are incredibly innovative, and if serious steps are taken now to combat carbon emissions, the negative effects of climate change could be mitigated. Leading the way in Switzerland is the Andermatt Swiss Alps (ASA) development project, which is one of just a small handful of resorts that is taking serious steps to up its eco credentials and ensure its longevity as an outpost for winter sports.

Stefan Kern, head of PR and communications for ASA, says: “The project is heavily dedicated to sustainability. This is a core value of all our activities – from energy consumption to construction and gastronomy. We are proud to be on the way to being a fully carbon-neutral holiday destination.”

Alpine views

Looking down into the Ursern valley from Schneehüenerstock. Image by Valentin Luthiger

Demonstrating its commitment to the cause, ASA teamed up last year with the Swiss branch of American NGO Protect Our Winters (POW), which is helping it to devise sweeping, longterm initiatives to reduce its carbon footprint, as well as consumption of single-use plastic (none is sold at resort sites). At the beginning of 2020, ASA also launched Andermatt Responsible, a platform that “looks at the whole company’s footprint from heating to energy to water,” as Nicholas Bornstein, head and founder of POW Switzerland, explains.

Read more: Van Cleef & Arpels CEO Nicolas Bos on the poetry of jewellery

A political scientist with a Ph.D in Swiss environmental policy, there are few people better equipped than Bornstein to discuss combatting climate change in mountainous regions. He says that POW “allows me to combine my love of the outdoors with meaningful action”. He explains that his organisation works to “mobilise our community to implement climate change protection measures” via groups of local activists, professional athletes, companies and mountain guides, who act as ambassadors.

Alpine golf course

The Andermatt golf course. Image by Martin Wabel/Bildsektor.

How is climate change affecting Alpine ski resorts? In addition to making ski seasons shorter, Bornstein says: “The snow line has risen approximately 300 metres in the past 40 years, and is predicted to go up a further 500 to 700 metres by the end of the century, and this is putting a lot of ski resorts out of business.”

He also notes that conditions are becoming more dangerous. “We have seen avalanches in mid-winter of the kind that we would expect in April and May. They are becoming harder to predict.” Why? If the ground isn’t cold enough when it starts snowing, an insulating layer is created by the snow where heat is trapped and snow can slide off more easily. “We call these ‘fish mouth’ avalanches,” says Bornstein.

Read more: Jason deCaires Taylor on underwater art & ocean conservation

ASA has identified key contributors and is taking steps to reduce their impact. Bornstein says that approximately 50 to 70 per cent of CO2 emissions in Andermatt are from people coming to the resort by car so they are putting on extra trains from Zurich at weekends, offering discounted ski passes for people who don’t drive (driving in general here is restricted and there is a good bus system for those who don’t want to walk, including an electric bus). Andermatt Reuss is for pedestrians only.

Alpine village ski lift

Andermatt seen from the Gütsch ski lift

Food production and logistics are also big polluters, especially in Switzerland which imports a lot of goods. Bornstein says that POW has been working with restaurants in ASA to
put a more regional and vegetarian cuisine on menus. Andermatt’s gourmet restaurants are also reducing the amount of plastic-wrapped ingredients they buy.

Even more impressive is the fact that the entire SkiArena of Andermatt (from homes to ski lifts) is 100 per cent powered by hydroelectric and wind-powered energy supplied by Ursern electricity works, which exclusively serves the Gotthard region. (On the Graubünden side of Andermatt, Energia Alpina also provides 100 per cent renewable energy.) Not only that but all the buildings are heated in a totally carbon-neutral way through the burning of locally sourced wood pellets and surplus heat captured from Swiss army computers buried deep in secret bases in nearby mountains.

Read more: How Gaggenau is innovating the ancient art of steam cooking

“People want to see companies stepping up to the challenge and we believe it is going to become more important to position yourself with a ski resort that cares about the future of the environment,” says Bornstein. Even during the summer when people play golf surrounded by green meadows, ASA has ensured that its 20-plus species of birds have plenty of areas to nest around the course – in fact, there are more birds here today than there were before the course was built, demonstrating that being responsible can benefit both nature and mankind.

RING IN THE NEW

architectural render

Arve Chalet Apartments

Arve Chalet Apartments
Arve is a five-floor block of 17 residences (73–116 sq m in size), each with open-plan living and dining spaces, and window seats offering views of the mountains.

Alpine apartment with mountain views

Enzian Alpine Apartments

Enzian Alpine Apartments
Enzian  is a modern, three-floor Alpine villa housing 12 apartments measuring from 62 sq m to 136 sq m. Some come with saunas, private roof terraces and gardens.

Find out more: andermatt-swissalps.ch

This article was originally published in the Summer 2020 Issue.

Share:
Reading time: 5 min
Snowy mountain village of St Mortiz
Snowy mountain village of St Mortiz

The Alpine village of St. Moritz offers more than just an exclusive social scene; the winter sports are first rate too, say Darius Sanai

With snow already falling in the Swiss Alps, LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai looks forward to another first-class ski season in St Mortiz

The first Alpine snowfall of the season has already happened – there is up to 30cm of fresh powder across Switzerland, particularly in the south of the country, due to a weather system recently pushing up from Italy. So naturally our thoughts are turning to St Moritz. Think St Moritz, and you probably think lavish New Year’s Eve parties, long evenings drinking Masseto in friends’ houses, and early evening aperitifs at Pavarotti’s.

It’s easy to overlook the winter sports when you’re so familiar with the social element – and St Moritz has such an engrossing social, cultural and artistic life that you’d be forgiven for never having snapped on a pair of Rossignols while there. Forgiven, but mistaken.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

So here’s a snapshot of what you could, and should, be doing as soon as the lifts open in a few days: it’s our perfect day in St Moritz. We started our day on the slopes at Piz Nair, the top station on the Corviglia mountain, one of three big ski mountains in the area, and the one directly above the village.

It was snowing lightly when we entered the funicular station in St Moritz; we travelled through a layer of thick cloud, fearing a whiteout day, and then, suddenly, we emerged upwards into a blue and white high mountain peaky wonderland.

Cable car on the way up a snowy mountain side

The Signal cable car is the first stage of the journey towards Piz Nair, the peak at the top of Corviglia, the most celebrated of the many ski mountains around St Moritz

At Piz Nair I shuffled over to a snow shelf to look at the view properly. In every direction, triangular peaks were poking out of a soft, uniform blanket of cloud below us. There was no end to the sea of peaks: St Moritz is famous for its “champagne air”, supposedly the purest in the Alps, as it is so well surrounded by high peaks on every side.

Read more: Why now is the time to book into the Bulgari Resort Dubai

The mountain has a superb selection of mainly red runs, suited to good intermediates; we particularly liked the long run all the way from Piz Nair down to Celerina, below St Moritz, which ran through two valleys and finally descended through the trees, with fantastic views of the Piz Bernina mountains, higher than 4000m, opposite. The clouds melted away during the morning, with more panoramas revealing themselves.

fine dining in an alpine restaurant

The White Marmot restaurant with panoramic views of the mountains

And then – lunch. Lunch on the slopes in St Moritz is almost a religion: you are judged by where you go, and where you sit, so here’s some advice: book a table, as soon as you know when you’re going, at White Marmot. This is the restaurant at the Corviglia mountain station, three quarters of the way up the slopes and directly above the town itself. You can easily access White Marmot without skis, by taking the funicular train up, and many people do. Huge picture windows give you an unremitting panorama, and the decor – bare wooden tables fully dressed with huge Riedel wine glasses, 20th century modern design elements, colourful throws, magnums of Dom Perignon sitting on ice – makes White Marmot look like there’s a party going on even before the party has started. The cuisine is beautiful too, varying from Swiss mountain specialities with a contemporary twist to modern Italian haute cuisine.

Luxury alpine hotel within a forest

The Suvretta House is a palace hotel overlooking forests and lakes, with its own ski lift

After lunch, we took a final lift up to Piz Nair to take in the view of what seemed like all of Switzerland again, and headed down, via a series of lifts, to Suvretta House. One of St Moritz’s classic luxury palace hotels, it sits amid a forest on its own ski slope, with its own ski lift. Having skied to the door, we sat in its grand drawing room, looking out over the forest and the valley, sipping on local Pinot Noir, and preparing for the second feast of the day, at Suvretta House’s celebrated Stube restaurant.

The Stube has an informal atmosphere, plenty of Alpine pine, and serves a perfected selection of Swiss, Asian and contemporary American specialities. The chicken wrap is to die for. And all you have to do after dinner is wander up to your room, with a view over the forests and frozen lakes, and prepare for a reprise the next day. Book for early December, and you’ll have fresh snow this year and no crowds.

For more information visit: engadin.ch
Book your stay: suvrettahouse.ch

Share:
Reading time: 4 min
Interiors of a contemporary concert hall
Facade of contemporary building

Andermatt Concert Hall’s glass façade floods the venue with light

In Andermatt, the sound of music soars beautifully from a remarkable newly opened concert hall. Laura Archer discovers how the state-of-the-art venue is helping to mark the Alpine town out as a vibrant year-round cultural destination as well as a luxury skiing resort

Back when he was a student in Berlin, Samih Sawiris, the chairman of Andermatt Swiss Alps, would do anything to get his hands on tickets to the Philharmonie. He often struck lucky, recalling ending up attending “hundreds” of concerts conducted by the legendary Herbert von Karajan. This summer, decades later, the Berlin Philharmonic inaugurated Sawiris’ state-of-the-art Andermatt Concert Hall with a spectacular performance of Mozart and Shostakovich, marking the start of a world-class programme unrivalled in the Alps. For the property developer, whose passion for classical music is evangelical and who first conceived of the project many years ago, it was a particular joy. When the first notes of Mozart’s Symphony No.34 swirled around the light-filled hall, with forested mountains almost poking through the windows, Sawiris tells LUX, “It was a dream come true. Like many of my dreams, this one entailed long and hard work, but it doubled the pleasure to see the Berlin Philharmonic finally here.”

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

While in the past Andermatt has struggled to escape from the shadows of its glitzier Alpine cousins – Gstaad and St. Moritz among them – it is now emerging as a glamorous destination in its own right, thanks to an impressive investment programme designed to transform the village into a year-round destination where superb skiing is just one of the many strings in its bow. At the heart of this development is the 650-seat Andermatt Concert Hall, masterminded by London-based Studio Seilern Architects.

Interiors of a contemporary concert hall

Studio Seilern Architects took every opportunity to add light to the Concert Hall’s design.

Orchestra playing in contemporary concert hall

The Berlin Philharmonic played the venue’s first concert in June this year

Founder-director Christina Seilern lived in Switzerland until she was 18 and sees the place as something of a second home. This project proved irresistible, giving her a chance to showcase her architectural prowess within an environment she loves. “It brought me back to my roots,” she says. “Given that I grew up in the mountains, it felt appropriate to connect the dramatic landscape to the music within the hall.”

Read more: Meet the Renaissance entrepreneur Kevin Xu

Stairwell interior of contemporary building flooded with light

She has done so in spectacular style, working with an existing underground concrete bunker originally intended to be a conference venue and literally raising the roof, adding a glass façade to create a soaring atrium that floods the concert space below with daylight and opens it up to stunning mountain views. In winter, audiences might find themselves listening to music while watching snow swirl outside, while in summer the green alpine pastures provide a similarly inspiring backdrop. The hall’s bijou size, with incredible acoustics courtesy of Kahle Acoustics and Ducks Scéno (the teams behind the Philharmonie de Paris) creates a sensory experience like no other in the Alps. “It felt like having the orchestra in my living room,” says Seilern of the opening performance. “The intimacy between orchestra and audience was palpable. It was completely electrifying.”

At street level, the clever design means passers-by can also see into the concert hall and enjoy the spectacle, further cementing Sawiris’ vision that classical music is for everyone.

The Andermatt Autumn Music Festival, a satellite of the Lucerne Festival, starts on 24 October 2019 andermatt-swissalps.ch

Luxurious contemporary interiors of an apartment

 

Luxury terrace of an apartment

Gotthard Lofts (here and above)

Stay in style

With so much to see and do in Andermatt, you’ll want to return time and again. And after a long day on the slopes, on the golf course, or hiking, cycling or touring, it’s nice to relax in the comfort of your own home. Gotthard Lofts, a new development of 10 spacious loft-style apartments on the sixth floor of the Radisson Blu hotel, offers your own private space with all the benefits of the hotel’s facilities, including private access to the 25-metre panoramic pool, spa and the concert hall itself. Inside, large balconies make the most of the surrounding scenery, while light woods and neutral tones evoke a modern Alpine spirit. Cook for family and friends one night; dine in the hotel restaurant the next – the flexibility and choice are what make Gotthard Lofts so appealing. Buyers receive a special exception from stringent Swiss property laws about foreign ownership, and receive a host of benefits including a three- year ski pass and the option to rent it out when you’re not there. It’s the smart way to make the most of your precious holiday time.

From CHF 990,000. For more information visit: gotthard-residences.ch

Share:
Reading time: 4 min
Andermatt Swiss Alpine village in summertime
Andermatt Swiss Alpine village in summertime

Summer in Andermatt with bike trails, the historic village streets, the Radisson Blu hotel and the new golf course

Andermatt is rapidly becoming one of Switzerland’s best year-round Alpine destinations. Already famed for its winter sports, the resort is now offering activities, accommodation and dining for summer, too, thanks to a major new development. Rob Freeman discovers the joys of the village’s new season

As the winter snows melt on the slopes above Andermatt, the year-round allure of this Swiss village becomes apparent. Thanks to the charm and the beauty of its summer meadows carpeted with white, blue, yellow and pink Alpine flowers, the resort has become a multi- faceted, all-season destination.

As glorious as it is in winter – Andermatt is now a world-class winter-sports centre and part of central Switzerland’s largest linked ski area – the resort, thanks to some remarkable developments that are taking place there, is equally stunning in the summer. In many ways, the contrast between the verdant valleys and the glistening white peaks above in summer makes this landscape even more striking.

Follow LUX on Instagram: the.official.lux.magazine

Andermatt’s parish records go back 800 years, with many of its houses being centuries old, so it’s small wonder that there is a palpable sense of history and tradition in its streets. With such a background, it’s intriguing to see the village enter a new phase, underlined by the recent opening of the elegant shopping and dining square, the Piazza Gottardo, which is part of a visionary development by Egyptian investor Samih Sawiris that will see the village double in size. There’s a distinct yet subtle style to this new car-free area, known as Andermatt Reuss, of which the Piazza is the centrepiece. The trick is having every building individually designed by one of more than 30 Swiss and international architects to create an eclectic rather than uniform appearance.

Swiss village street view

Each new building, as architect Christoph Langenberg, the project manager of the developer Andermatt Swiss Alps, explains, pays homage in one respect or another to the traditional styles of the local architecture. The Edelweiss apartment building, for example, has distinctive shutters with chevron patterns in contrast to the broad arches that protect balconies against the sometimes severe weather. But its most extraordinary feature is its exterior colour, which starts from a dark base and gradually lightens as it rises until seeming to fade into the sky. Diamond shapes are scored into the façade, with wavy lines accentuating the lightness. In another building, House Wolf, the design incorporates the careful gauging of the sculptural effect of the roof overhang.

“The buildings are clustered together more closely than is usual in new projects like this,” Langenberg adds. This is deliberate, to reflect the traditional way in which these villages evolved. The buildings have always been close together for warmth and security. We wanted the new developments to be an extension to the old village, rather than something separate.” One to five-bedroom apartments are available, and the whole project, which will include 30 individual chalets, has no purchase restrictions for foreigners.

Two cyclists riding their bikes around an alpine lake in the summer

The square, complete with fountain, is fringed by shops, restaurants and bars. Restaurant Biselli already epitomises Piazza Gottardo’s village spirit and, from 8am to 11pm, is a focal point for holidaymakers and residents. Occupying the ground floor of the six-storey House Alpenrose apartment building, the restaurant is also a bakery, providing rolls and croissants every morning, and a chocolate shop where the chocolatier can often be seen creating little masterpieces. It also has a small section selling holiday necessities such as milk, butter and jam, even toothpaste. The softly lit restaurant, which is romantic and stylish, has a menu embracing dishes such as goose liver mousse with cognac and truffles, and sea bass baked in puff pastry, as well as local specialities such as tarte flambée of onions, bacon, sour cream and mountain cheese, and dumplings with roasted pork belly.

Read more: Maryam Eisler in conversation with Kenny Scharf

The Mammut sports shop opposite is a high-end ski-rental shop in winter and a bike, hiking and climbing emporium in summer. A Victorinox store has a large selection of Swiss Army and kitchen knives, designer luggage and watches. A pharmacy and small supermarket will soon join the line-up.

Exterior of a building designed as a large chalet

Radisson Blu Hotel Reussen

The impressive Radisson Blu Hotel Reussen opened recently, and its Spun restaurant, highlighting Swiss and Italian cuisine, also fronts onto the Piazza. The hotel also has a fitness zone including two saunas, steam bath and 13 treatment rooms and extensive gym, as well as a 25-metre public indoor pool with floor-to-ceiling windows facing the mountains of the Urseren Valley. A new concert hall with state-of-the-art acoustics and seating 700, designed by British studio Seilern Architects, is attached to the hotel. Further accommodation for the village will include a hotel aimed at families, featuring a water-slide through reception!

Summer offerings include walks from gentle strolls to challenging hikes, and climbing for novices as well as experts. Also popular are e-bikes with auxiliary motors to tackle distances and gradients that would otherwise be out of the question. The Four Headwaters Trail links the nearby sources of four rivers, the Rhine, Reuss, Ticino and Rhone. The 85-km family-friendly route can be split into day trips or a five-day tour staying at huts. And days out on the Matterhorn Gotthard Glacier Express are spectacular. There’s no more marvellous way to enjoy these glorious mountains.

Green of a golf course surrounded by mountains

Andermatt’s 18-hole golf course

The new 18-hole, par-72 championship Andermatt Swiss Alps golf course

Designed to complement its spectacular natural setting, Andermatt’s 18-hole golf course is immediately adjacent to the village. Although it only opened as recently as 2016, it has already achieved the highest possible accolades, including being named Switzerland’s Best Golf Course in the World Golf Awards every year since. Designed by renowned German golf-course architect Kurt Rossknecht, it has the feel of a Scottish links course and meets international tournament standards. Importantly for holidaymakers, it is open to the public on a pay-and-play basis.

Find out more: andermatt-swissalps.ch

This article originally appeared in the Summer 19 Issue.

Share:
Reading time: 5 min
Alpine village of Andermatt in winter
Switzerland's remote alpine village of andermatt

The Swiss alpine village of Andermatt. Image by Laureen Missaire

The fairy-tale village of Andermatt is fast becoming one of Switzerland’s most desirable destinations with the recent opening of a new ski region as well as a scattering of luxury hotels and holiday homes. But what’s it like to live and work in the region? A new documentary series investigates

The Swiss village of Andermatt sits nestled amid the towering peaks and forested slopes of Switzerland’s Saint-Gotthard Massif, some of the world’s most dramatic  scenery. The recently launched twelve part YouTube documentary series, aptly named Mystic Mountains is an ode to the region’s beauty, nature’s captivating power and an investigation into living remotely.

Follow LUX on Instagram: the.official.lux.magazine

Filled with panoramic images of drifting clouds and snow-covered mountains, each episode runs for approximately ten minutes and features interviews with locals, guests, historians, artists, free-riders, farmers and business people. The final script was the result of discussion-led workshops with director Benoit Pensivy of 3W, during which mysticism became the overarching theme as way of describing the individuals’ experience of the Andermatt landscape.

Watch the first episode below:

Find the full series here: andermatt-swissalps.ch/en/andermatt/mystic-mountains/

 

Share:
Reading time: 1 min
Skier on a run down into a valley
New gondola connecting ski region in andermatt, switzerland

The gondola on the first stage of the link between the different resorts

This winter sees the opening of a spectacular new ski region in Switzerland, with the completion of a link between two neighbouring resorts. Rob Freeman reports on the latest step in the transformation of Andermatt into a major skiing and second-home destination

Amid the towering peaks and forested slopes of Switzerland’s Saint-Gotthard Massif, one of the most ambitious and spectacular projects in the world of winter sports has reached fulfilment this winter.

The opening of a new gondola lift marks the final step in the creation of the largest linked ski area in central Switzerland. Admittedly, the lift doesn’t enjoy the snappiest of names. But when it carries such a weight of importance as the Oberalppass-Schneehüenerstock Express does, then who would begrudge it as many syllables as it wishes?

Follow LUX on Instagram: the.official.lux.magazine

The ten-person gondola system is the final piece in a jigsaw which brings together two previously separate resorts to form the now fully joined SkiArena Andermatt-Sedrun.

The union, which also forms a liaison between the Swiss cantons of Uri and Grisons, has been a dream for many years and now the twin resort has been lifted into the premiere league of major ski destinations.

Skier on a run down into a valley

Skiing down the valley towards Sedrun

Alpine restaurant on the edge of a ski run

Restaurant Nätschen, on the link run between Andermatt and Sedrun

But what sets it apart from other mere commercial projects is that this extraordinary enterprise embraces a singular spirit of romance and adventure. It’s the culmination of a personal mission by Egyptian billionaire Samih Sawiris, who, at the suggestion of a former Swiss ambassador to Egypt, took on the challenge of leading the rejuvenation of Andermatt.

Sawiris’s Swiss-based firm Orascom Development put up very substantial financial backing to make the vision become reality. The achievement is all the more remarkable because he embarked on his mission shortly before the financial crash a decade ago – and has admitted that, had he known it was about to happen, he “wouldn’t have had the guts to commit to the investment – so, I was lucky”.

Apres ski train in Andermatt

The Après-Ski train runs regularly between Andermatt and Disentis

Even luckier are the skiers and boarders who can take advantage of what he has helped create – a ski area of mouth-watering scale and variety. “With the completion of this link, we connect two cantons, two languages and two cultures,” Sawiris told me. “The region from Andermatt to Sedrun with the connection to Disentis, which will be in place from summer 2019, will be a highlight of the Swiss winter-sports offer.” He described how everyone connected with the venture had worked tirelessly to see it completed. “There’s something for everybody now, for experienced skiers and freeriders, families and those who like to take their skiing easy.”

He added: “The good thing is, even if you’ve skied from Andermatt to Sedrun, you can still take the Après-Ski train back if you’re too tired to do it on skis”.

Read more: The Avenue of the Stars: a taste of Hong Kong’s future

At least £100 million has been spent on new lifts and upgrading the ski area – with the redevelopment as a whole said to have cost well over £1 billion.

Andermatt, once a small and quiet place (although it was noted for a dramatic James Bond car chase, during which Sean Connery zipped along the nearby Furka Pass in his Aston Martin DB5 in Goldfinger) has virtually doubled in size with the construction of stunning new accommodation to complement the skiing upgrade. But it has successfully retained its great charm, particularly along the historic cobbled main street, which runs from the main bridge crossing the Unteralpreuss river to the Gemsstock cable-car station.

Ice rink at five star hotel the Chedi Andermatt in Switzerland

The courtyard ice rink at the Chedi Andermatt hotel

Mountain restaurant in Switzerland

The mountain inn Piz Calmot on the Oberalp Pass

Andermatt has always offered superb skiing for both experts and intermediates. A north-facing bowl beneath the nearly 3,000-metre high peak of Gemsstock, known for its sheltered slopes that keep excellent snow, its challenging off-piste routes, and a fine, sweeping red run that intermediates can happily tackle.

On the opposite side of town, Nätschen has a wide range of fabulous, sunny slopes that are perfect for family skiing. Experts have a wonderful choice of black pistes and freeride terrain, but there are also reds and blues where intermediates can hone their skills.

But, as of winter 2018, that’s just the beginning. The extensive pistes of Sedrun and Disentis beyond have always been a big draw to Andermatt guests, and on the same Gotthard Oberalp lift pass. But until now it’s been necessary to take a train to reach them.

Andermatt Swiss Alps development village in Switzerland

The new Andermatt Swiss Alps development is on a sunny open plain

Now skiers and boarders can hop on the new lift, with a red piste also in place to link the two villages in both directions, and there is a further link to Disentis to come soon.

Sedrun’s slopes are the most extensive in the area, with glorious open runs, graded red but wide and welcoming, above the treeline.

Skiers walking away from a ski lift

On the slopes between Andermatt and Sedrun

Of course, assorted kickers, boxes, rails and quarters may not be the first things you look for on a piste map when planning your ski day – they’re not mine, either. But if you have some shredders in your party or anyone feeling adventurous, the much admired 600-metre long terrain park at Sedrun could come into its own. It even has a ski and boarder-cross track, with 1.4km of steep-walled curves and jumps. It’s entertaining to ski down the side of the park and watch the spills and thrills at least, even if you don’t want to polish your own tricks!

The SkiArena Andermatt-Sedrun now has more than 120km of linked slopes. There’s a total of ten new and upgraded lifts, most of them high-speed and high-capacity chairs and gondolas, giving the area 22 lifts altogether. Extensive snowmaking has been installed, covering most slopes, in case nature needs a helping hand in the long seven-month season.

Read more: Meet the new creative entrepreneurs

Close up shot of snow on a ski run

One of the south-facing runs towards Sedrun

And as you ski these runs you could well be in star-studded company. Winter Olympics hero Bernhard Russi, a son of Andermatt who won gold in the downhill at the 1972 Sapporo games, rates the run from Schneehüenerstock on the Oberalppass his all-time favourite.

And the last time I skied there I shared the mountain with up-and-coming local downhill star Aline Danioth and Swedish Freeride World Tour champion Kristofer Turdell, who both find that Gemsstock provides ideal terrain on which to train.

The valley floor has sunny cross-country trails for a tranquil change from the downhill variety, and the winter hiking network is delightful. Activities that provide alternatives to skiing are becoming increasingly popular here, including snowshoeing, tobogganing and ice-skating – helping Andermatt set a new benchmark as the complete mountain resort.

Holiday Village Andermatt

This ski season sees the official opening of the Piazza Gottardo, the central square of the new car-free holiday village, which lies beyond the rail station and close to the new ski-lifts. It’s just across the tracks from the development’s flagship, the Hotel Chedi, which opened in 2014 (and where guests have the luxury of their own butler and, of course, the hotel has a walk-in cheese humidor). Beyond the Chedi is the historic old village, retaining its great original charm.

Shops and restaurants are ranged around the Piazza. The village comprises five further hotels, including the just completed Radisson Blu Reussen, 42 high-end apartment complexes individually designed for an eclectic appearance, 28 chalets and a subterranean concert hall – and no buying restrictions for foreigners.

Discover more: andermatt-swissalps.ch

This article was originally published in the Winter 19 Issue

Watch Episode 1 of the “Mystic Mountains” documentary series on the people of Andermatt:

Share:
Reading time: 6 min
a thin road winding up a lush green mountain with a cloudy sky
a thin road winding up a lush green mountain with a cloudy sky

The sinuous curves leading up to the St Gotthard pass

The St Gotthard, Oberalp and Furka are three of the most spectacular mountain passes in Europe. And the new Holiday Village Andermatt Reuss is the perfect base from which to explore them, discovers Emma Love

Anyone who has watched the car chase scene in the James Bond film Goldfinger will be familiar with the Furka Pass. As Sean Connery sped round the hairpin bends of one of Switzerland’s oldest passes in his Aston Martin DB5, surrounded by dramatic mountains on one side and the Rhône glacier on the other, it wasn’t just the slick driving that gripped viewers attention but the stunning Alpine landscape, too. One of Andermatt’s ‘big three’ passes – the other two are the St Gotthard Pass and the Oberalp Pass – the Furka is a must for any thrill-seeking adventurers looking to explore the Swiss Alps, whether in a classic car (albeit at a more leisurely pace than Bond) or on two wheels.

Follow LUX on Instagram: the.official.lux.magazine

Mike Cotty, who specialises in endurance cycling and is behind The Col Collective, an online resource for cyclists wanting to tackle the world’s greatest mountain passes, believes that these are some of the greatest peaks in Europe for mountain bikers. He recently set himself a 105km cycling challenge that featured a trio of three of the toughest climbs in Europe: Furka, Nufenen and St Gotthard (Furka alone has an average 7.3 per cent gradient and an altitude of 2436m). “The way the peaks are positioned in this area makes it an exciting prospect to link up two or three mountains in a loop like this,” says Cotty, who also hosts cycling tours around the world. “With three mountain passes above 2,000m elevation, the sheer amount of climbing is what makes this route a toughie and on a par with some of the premier mountain stages of the Tour de France.”

To this end, he advises any cyclists thinking of tackling the route to have some mountain experience. His highlight, he says, was summitting the Furka and seeing the valley ahead. “The road to the Grimsel Pass looks like it snakes off to heaven, which is pretty surreal, as are the cobblestones of the old Tremola Road at the end of the ride. How the road was built all those years ago, and the history that has gone before it, is hard to comprehend. It’s a very special place.” Unsurprisingly perhaps, the Furka Pass is included on the Ultimate Drives ‘Greatest Driving Roads’ app (it’s described as “a stunning pass, with an amazing combination of sweepers, tight switchbacks, dramatic views and a drag straight at the end”), which was launched last year by Mark Heather.

Architectural render of pastel coloured swiss style chalet in alpine village during the summer

Andermatt’s new Apartment House Alpenrose

Heather is also behind Ultimate Drives, a Zurich-based company that rents sports cars and supercars, and provides personally tested driving tour itineraries. “The Furka is so dramatic because it’s a mountain road that is driven entirely above the tree line. For most people, they never get this high unless they are skiing, and then the valleys are covered in snow. These lunar like landscapes are something really special,” he says, adding that these are the roads that cars such as a Porsche 911 4S Cabriolet or Mercedes AMG Roadster were designed to be driven on: “Smooth tarmac and sweeping corners, combined with the most dramatic, jaw-dropping backgrounds of the peaks of the Alps. Add to this the soundtrack of a V8 engine reverberating off the valley walls, and the stunning performance and handling of these cars, and it’s really something you have to experience to believe.”

Read more: Is the Waldhaus Sils the most spiritual hotel in the Alps?

Someone else who has vast experience of these roads is Jan Baedeker, Editor-in-Chief of Classic Driver magazine and editor of several books on the subject, including Porsche Drive: 15 Passes in 4 Days. “The diversity of this region is just incredible. In just one day behind the wheel, or a couple of days on your bicycle, you can experience some of the world’s most exciting roads through breathtaking landscapes,” he says. He advises anyone thinking of driving here to start early to avoid the crowds. “The Gotthard Pass is one of the most dramatic and important historic alpine crossings and it’s still my favourite pass in Switzerland.”

Whether you’re behind the wheel of a classic car, on a mountain bike or a Harley Davidson, experiencing these legendary Alpine passes is a Swiss summer must.

A new luxury base for exploring the three big passes in the heart of Switzerland

When it is completed this winter, the latest addition to Andermatt’s Piazza Gottardo, Apartment House Alpenrose, will have 20 exclusive apartments. The exterior matches the architectural style of the Holiday Village Andermatt Reuss; inside the apartments range from those with one- to three-bedroom maisonettes (the largest are 146sq m, but for anyone wanting even more space, two flats can be converted into a single unit on request).

luxury apartment interiors with rustic style contemporary furnishing

Apartment interiors can be bespoke fitted

The joy of the design is that each one can be customised; buyers can choose from two looks (‘modern rustic’ and ‘modern light’) or opt for a bespoke build-out. Most of the apartments come with a corner picture window looking out onto the mountains while all the rooftop maisonettes have their own sauna. Other benefits include use of the fitness studio, spa and swimming pool in the nearby Radisson Blu hotel, and an excellent concierge service which can help with anything from travel plans to stocking the fridge and car hire, making Apartment House Alpenrose an ideal all-year holiday base. And non-Swiss nationals need not worry about the real estate purchasing laws. Andermatt Swiss Alps is exempt, so international buyers can purchase here without special permits (and sell with no minimum holding time).

For more information visit andermatt-swissalps.ch or andermatt-alpenrose.ch

 

Share:
Reading time: 5 min
striking architecture of a hotel in the snow set against a forest

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Share:
Reading time: 3 min
LUX's featured luxury destination Davos, Switzerland
Outside view of the Belvedere hotel in switzerland, the best luxury hotel in Davos

The Steigenberger Grandhotel Belvédère, Davos

Why should I go there now?

The Belvédère is the hotel for top dignitaries at the World Economic Forum in Davos, held on the last week of this month; many of the most significant events are also held at the hotel, with a high likelihood of bumping into Emmanuel Macron, Bono, Bill Gates or Melania Trump (all at the same time).

Follow LUX on Instagram: the.official.lux.magazine

Unfortunately, if you’re not already on the global A-list, you’re not going to get a room at the Belvédère that week, no matter what you pay. But you might well be inspired by TV images of the handsome hotel façade and the mountain view beyond to visit the slopes of Davos at a less hectic time.

What’s the lowdown?

When it’s not hosting world leaders, Davos, along with the neighbouring village of Klosters, is at the centre one of Switzerland’s leading ski areas. The town is in a broad valley with skiing on four separate (and unfortunately not interconnected) mountains. Take the funicular up the most significant one of these, Parsenn, and you are rewarded with some of the prettiest and most varied skiing on a single mountain in the Alps; the long, sinuous red to the Schifer skilift alternates between open mountainside, gullies, and undulating forest.

Skiiers on the top of a mountain in Davos

Davos and Klosters serve one of Switzerland’s prettiest ski areas

And if you go before the end of February, you’ll maximise your chances of being able to complete one of the longest runs in Europe, which extends beyond Schifer, through forested hillsides, all the way down to Schiers, a 30-minute train ride from Davos. The total distance from peak to valley is 12km, all of it relatively easy. And this is Switzerland, so everything from ski and boot hire to lift operation to the buses running the length of the village, is beautifully efficient.

Getting horizontal

Unlike many ski resorts, Davos came of age as a spa town in the 19th century and the grandeur of the Belvédère reflects this era – as does its service, which is more fin-de-siècle luxury than Alpine cosy. We particularly enjoyed dinner in the Restaurant Belvédère, which has recently been modernised: bare wood floors, contemporary art, but still thankfully with tablecloths and traditional waitstaff – this would not be a place for a Soho House-style makeover. There was still a hint of Belle Epoque about the place; and another dinner in the Romeo & Julia Fondue Tavern featured a fabulously sourced and scented fondue.

Dining table at the Belvedere restaurant in Davos, Switzerland with views of the alps

Dining with a view at Restaurant Belvédère

Our room had a view across the rooftops to the mountains opposite; furnishings were traditional and the balcony was a fine place for a last schnapps of the day. There was also a good pool and spa area.

LUX's featured luxury destination Davos, Switzerland

Davos town, at 1500m, is quite functional; the surrounding mountains are excellent for intermediate skiers

Flipside

Unlike its neighbour Klosters, Davos is a rather functional town, not a village, so you won’t have the cute atmosphere of some of the Alpine resorts; and with no slopes above 2900m, it is best experienced when you are surest of snow – try zipping there before the WEF begins this month (though you’ll have to mind the temporary construction work and security at the Belvédère), or when everything is over in early February. The snow’s fabulous at the moment.

Rates: From 191.20 CHF ( approx. £150 / $200 /€150)

Darius Sanai

steigenberger.com

Share:
Reading time: 3 min