Nestled at a height of almost 1,500 meters up in the Swiss Alps, Andermatt stands at the heart of the Saint-Gotthard Massif and right where the most famed traverses of the Swiss Alps interconnect.
Its location and fine skiing conditions have always drawn snow-sports enthusiasts, but Andermatt was overshadowed for more than four decades by other, more popular, ski resorts in Switzerland.
With a brand-new two-stage express gondola and numerous developments, Andermatt is fast becoming one of the top Swiss Alps skiing resorts.
Great Skiing Area – Poor Management
Andermatt was always known for its excellent deep snow conditions and off-piste runs, offering skiers plenty of action at least until early March.
Encompassing two main ski areas, Nätschen in the north-east and Gemsstock in the south, the resort has offered access to both of them with ski lifts since the 1960s.
One lift system was only designed to serve the 3,000m Gemsstock challenges during the summer months; with its inherent flaws and shortcomings doing little to help Andermatt’s development.
Despite its advantageous location and climate, and the fact that it lies no more than 90 minutes away from Zurich by car, Andermatt suffered from a bad reputation among ardent skiers for its poor terrain maintenance and amenities and most of its hotels were closed by the early 1990s.
Efforts to Revive the Resort
The dawn of the new century and the rather expensive rates of other skiing resorts in the area gave Andermatt a second chance, attracting visitors who were looking for more affordable alternatives.
The resort steadily revived, with numerous hotels popping up and efforts to overhaul the skiing areas and improve transportation towards Sedrun, a neighbouring resort with similar issues, have proved popular.
Just a few years ago, Andermatt and Sedrun were linked only by a long and narrow road and a train line, keeping both of them fairly isolated and a vast skiing area in between them unexploited.
Several massive investments changed things, making Andermatt a far more appealing skiing destination for snow-sports enthusiasts of all ages and levels of experience.
A £1.2 Billion Redevelopment Plan
Andermatt’s revival owes much to the vigour and tenacity of a visionary billionaire from Egypt, Samih Sawiris.
In 2005, Sawiris was asked by the local authorities to share his considerable experience as a holiday resort builder and developer and suggest ways the local community could escape its long-standing financial downturn.
While surveying the landscape by air, Sawiris simply fell in love with the area and its majestic scenery and decided to do more than just give a few suggestions.
Sawiris laid down a thorough and far-reaching investment plan that would highlight Andermatt’s exquisite location and make it a more appealing tourist destination.
Rough estimations put his investment at an astronomical £1.2 billion, but anyone that has ever visited the place before 2005 will surely agree that this has been money well-spent.
High-end hotels, a summer golf course, a spa, an array of shops and restaurants and several other developments put a new heart in the community, and soon a new village core was formed a mile away from the old one, breathing a genuine blend of the regional culture and contemporary amenities.
Other real estate investors have since taken an interest in the area, and Andermatt has blossomed again after almost five decades of obscurity.
Naturally, snow-sports remained Andermatt’s main attraction, and much needed to be done to improve both the skiing areas and lifts.
New and fast 6-seated chairlifts were installed, and snow-making guns and snow-farming made the already great skiing conditions even better.
Now, finally, skiers do not have to leave pistes to enjoy fresh tracks.
The New Express Gondola
The new express gondola link from Sedrun to Andermatt has further boosting the resort’s potential in attracting tourists.
Fast and sleek-looking, the gondola’s 10-person cars rise to 600m in less than six minutes and link the two resorts both by lift and piste, through the skiing area of Nätschen-Gütsch.
In addition, a new red piste was formed, along with scores of off-piste opportunities.
Andermatt’s shared Ski Arena area has increased from 89km to 120km!
However, this new addition does not mark the end of the whole effort.
By 2020, a new cable-car lift will connect Sedrun to Disentis, another small yet charming resort of the area, allowing the use of more than 50km of extra pistes.
Perfect for Competent Skiing Families
Sedrun is considered ideal for intermediate skiers, while Andermatt can easily meet the needs of skiers of all levels, especially those who wish to sharpen their skill and accept some more challenging runs.
Beginners will have plenty of easy terrain to master the basics in the Nätschen-Gütsch area between Sedrun and Andermatt. Gemsstock, on the other hand, is much tougher.
The trip from Andermatt to Sedrun and back can be easily done within a day.
You also have the option of a train trip, crossing the valley every couple of hours, linking not just Andermatt and Sedrun, but also Disentis. In fact, Disentis and the train are covered by the lift pass.
The train does have an après-ski carriage. =)
Sophisticated snow-sports enthusiasts and families will simply love Andermatt, which now ranks among the hottest ski resorts in the Swiss Alps.
Locals are already excited with the surge of new visitors, and hope that the excellent feedback and reviews circulating on the internet about Andermatt’s skiing conditions and amenities will attract even more visitors next year.