Andermatt was once a secret among European ski bums. A place with astonishing snow and nobody to share it with. Ten years ago it really couldn’t be more different from Verbier or Courchevel.
Great things don’t stay hidden forever. And humble little Andermatt is starting to thrive after a massive $2 billion development project. Soon this Swiss town will have the splendour of Zermatt, perhaps also the congested slopes of Chamonix. Right now, you can have all the brand new facilities and the same crowd-free slopes of yesteryear.
Before the Chedi opened, Andermatt didn’t even have a swimming pool, nevermind a five-star hotel with a spa. Now there’s a restaurant with a five-metre-high cheese tower, encased in glass, where you can try 43 types of Swiss cheese.
Not long ago you’d be eating premade sandwiches on the snow. Now there are restaurants like Gadabar, a converted cattle shed where each sheepskin-adorned table was formerly a cattle stall.
You can eat sushi on the slopes, or stop for a sundowner in a bar built into an old railway carriage. Chef Markus Neff has a Michelin-starred restaurant on the summit of the Gutsch ski area.
Plan My Ski Holiday
Andermatt was a Popular Destination…in the 19th Century
This town isn’t new to trendsetting. Go back 150 years and Queen Victoria of England was among the guests of Andermatt’s grand hotels. The town’s location was unrivaled. It still is.
In the heart of the Alps, where both the Rhone and Rhine rivers start, where three key mountain passes meet, Andermatt has arguably the best snow in Europe.
It catches storms from all directions, so there’s always snow. It was the grand crossroads town for travellers crossing the Alps. Except they built a railway tunnel beneath the Gotthard Pass in 1882 and travellers soon whizzed beneath Andermatt instead.
For decades Andermatt just about survived on ski bums. One decaying cable car took serious skiers onto steep, empty slopes. The Chedi ski room is lined with skis belonging to former world champions who trained here.
Important Ski Slope Upgrades
Now, finally, the slopes are accessible for beginner and intermediate skiers as well. That’s thanks to a $164 million investment in ten new lifts. These connect Andermatt with Sedrun and Disentis, forming a resort area with over 170 kilometres of trails for all abilities.
This is no generic ski holiday. From trans-Alpine expedition to mellow, winding runs above the town, Andermatt combines exceptional all-winter snow conditions with a diverse ski area.
Skiing all the way to Disentis is one adventurous day you can have. Rather than skiing back, hop on the famous Glacier Express, which is included in the resort ski pass. There’s even an apres-ski carriage bar on the train.
The Ski Destination of the Future
At heart, Andermatt retains its cobblestone streets and idiosyncrasies. Local shops sell hand-knitted socks and gloves. For all the gentrification and new restaurants, the best place to eat is still the butcher’s shop opened in 1900. After the first phase of the town’s redevelopment was completed in 2019, the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra provided apres-ski entertainment.
Like so many great explorer destinations, Andermatt effortlessly straddles many worlds. It’s old-world but new, quirky yet slowly turning decadent, a destination for both passionate all-day skiers and those enjoying a couple of easy runs and drinking Schümlipflümlis the rest of the day.
Further development has already started and there’s a grand master plan mapped out for the next 30 years. Now is the time to go, before everybody knows about this great thing they’ve got going in Switzerland.