Andermatt is one of Switzerland’s great classic resorts, popular with Brits since the early years of the last century all the things we love are here – spectacular mountain scenery, high snow-sure ski slopes, great off-piste powder fields and an authentic traditional resort, complete with historic bars and restaurants around a cobbled main street, for the full Alpine immersion.
In fact Andermatt is one of Switzerland's oldest ski destinations, people have been coming here for winter sports since the 1880s. Its location just north of the St Gotthard Pass has earnt it the nickname "the crossroads of the Alps" for centuries now. And yet, magically, Andermatt is metamorphosing in to Switzerland’s newest resort too!
Yes things are changing, and thankfully with the aim of making Andermatt still better. An unprecedented £1.2 million development to transform the resort in to a 21st century winter sports mecca is now well underway and the first stages of the transformation have been open for several seasons now – a luxurious hotel, The Chedi Andermatt, that has already been voted the best in Switzerland (quite an achievement when you consider the competition), and on the slopes state-of-the-art new lifts are being installed with the ultimate plan of linking Andermatt’s two separate areas to one another and to the neighbouring ski area of Sedrun to make one ultra-modern ski area with 120km of piste. Currently all the areas share a lift ticket, but it’s a shuttle bus between the different centres.
The Chedi has already brought 21st century luxury holiday standards to Andermatt. You can stay in superb accommodation, served by your own ski butler and enjoy spa sessions or spectacular meals in its gourmet restaurants, which include a strong Japanese and Asian influence for a rather different après-ski experience.
But at the same time all the traditional attractions, along with the historic bars and restaurants of ‘old Andermatt’, plus those marvellous powder slopes, are all still there just a short walk from The Chedi.
Skiing in Andermatt
You have a choice of ski areas in Andermatt at the start of your ski day.
The Gemsstock ski area accessed by cable car from the edge of the resort offers the biggest lift served vertical of more than 1500m from the top of the lifts a few metres below the near 3,000m peak. From here there and some spectacular red and black descents including one named after the famous Swiss skier and local boy Bernhard Russi.
This mountain is a real Mecca for freeriders with fantastic off-piste descents possible with a guide, and also as a base for ski touring. Popular areas include a vast north facing bowl beneath the summit with nearly 1000 metres of vertical and usually great snow. There are countless routes down through this as well as alternatives outside the bowl that continue right down in to neighbouring valleys. Conditions are often particularly idyllic midweek when the slopes are normally very quiet so that you can often feel as if you have the mountain to yourself.
Opportunities for beginners and more nervous intermediates are rather more limited here, with a central plateau offering several short blue runs served by drag lifts, but then it is most likely you’d want to take the cable car back down rather than the only pisted option, graded black! In fact this black isn’t especially steep, and there is a wonderful sweeping red piste from the top of the mountain, the Sonnenpiste (sunny run), down to that central plateau, so more confident intermediates will be fine and will love this long combined descent.
Across the valley the slopes of Nätschen and Gütsch peaking at 2344m are much more beginner and intermediate skier friendly with plenty of blues and reds to enjoy. In fact there’s a special beginners area with two dedicated progression lifts here (one serves a slightly steeper slope) and the fact that Nätschen has the best of the sunshine during the day makes it still more appealing.
This is the ski sector for which plans are underway to make a connection by lifts and runs to the neighbouring ski area of Sedrun, currently a popular 20 minute shuttle ride away. The first lifts have already been installed.
Sedrun’s ski slopes are marginally the most extensive of the three areas and are popular with intermediate skiers. With some 850 metres of vertical there are more than a dozen runs here, mostly on wide open slopes above the treeline, and mostly graded intermediate red. It’s a wonderful area on which to spend the day just blasting around from run to run.
With Andermatt, the ‘crossroads of the Alps’ not at a crossroads in its own history, this is the time to follow in the ski tracks of so many Brits from skiing’s golden age and visit the resort whilst its long established ski areas remain the classic powder mountains that draw serious skiers from across Europe to enjoy the slopes whilst you can now also take advantage of the exceptional services and facilities of The Chedi. Then perhaps consider returning in a season or two to see just how Andermatt, or at least its ski area, will change in the seasons to come.
- Important information
Ski Area 120 km Ski Range 1444-2961m Blue Runs 12 Red Runs 28 Black Runs 10 Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Off-season Off-season Off-season Off-season Off-season Off-season On-season On-season On-season On-season On-season Off-season
- Distance from airports
Zurich 1 hour 40 mins Calais (ski drive) 588 miles