ANDERMATT, SWITZERLAND - Anticipation builds as the scenic Glacier Express train I boarded earlier in the day in St. Moritz begins its long, slow decent from the stunning Oberalp Pass into the Urseren Valley where lovely Andermatt and my next Swiss Deluxe Hotel, The Chedi Andermatt, is located.
A fresh dusting of snow covers the roofs of the Old Town’s quaint homes like icing on a wedding cake. Andermatt looks like it jumped off the pages of a Swiss fairytale.
A few minutes after leaving the charming train station, I find myself standing in front of The Chedi Andermatt admiring its chalet-style design, its peaked roof matching neighbouring buildings and blending in beautifully with the jagged Alpine mountains that surround this lovely holiday resort.
My WOW moment, however, doesn’t come until I enter the lobby of the unique 5-star property. In the blink of an eye, I find myself surrounded by warm Asian influences, like the soft woods and delicate fabrics that I remember from my many visits to Thailand.
Above: The view one gets from The Chedi Andermatt's rooms is breathtaking.
Then it strikes me. The word “Chedi” actually means temple, or stupa, in the Thai language and the word is meant to convey a feeling of warmth and coziness.
With dozens of roaring fireplaces — every room has one — and lots of comfy daybeds spread out throughout The Chedi Andermatt’s stylish lobby area, it doesn’t take long for the warm hospitality renowned French architect Jena-Michel Gathy was hoping to achieve when he designed the hotel to take hold.
“We like to say our hotel is a combination of Alpine chic with Asian elements,” says Aylin Arabaci, the delightful Marketing and Communications manager of the landmark hotel who acts as my tour guide during my unforgettable two-day visit.
The Chedi Andermatt, which opened in 2013, is actually the cornerstone of a billion-dollar investment by Egyptian Samih Sawiris that is transforming sleepy Andermatt into the crown jewel of Swiss ski resorts. The town was used primarily by the Swiss Army for training purposes up until a few years ago and, thanks to Sawiris, is now being returned to its ski resort roots of the early 20th century.
Above: From the exterio The Chedi Andermatt's looks Swiss but inside it's Asian.
“We are the first of six new hotels that will open here over there next few years,” Arabaci tells me as we reach the sprawling lobby lounge area where skiers are cuddled up on day beds looking at their smartphones or reading books after a long day on the area’s well-groomed slopes.
We seriously doubt if any of the five new hotels planned for Andermatt will ever be able to match the playful elegance of The Chedi Andermatt, however.
When Arabaci swings open the door to my sprawling room, I’m left speechless by its intimacy and the Alpine view I get from the room’s floor-to-ceiling windows. The spacious state-of-the-art room — one of 123 that range in size between 560 and 3,500 square feet — is governed by an iPad control system but remains cozy and inviting thanks to a roaring fireplace in the sitting area.
“We actually have over 200 fireplaces in the hotel and each room looks out on the mountains,” says Arabaci as she escorts me to the hotel’s pool and spa areas, which flow off the main lobby lounge. The combination of water (the pool) and fire (the fireplaces) in the lounge area plays off the Asian theme, as well.
The 25,00 sq. ft The Spa & Health Club offers 10 deluxe treatment rooms and features a full range of treatments. The 35-metre-long indoor pool is canopied by a glass roof and drifts off into an outdoor pool which offers breathtaking views of the surrounding Alpine brilliance.
Above: Andermatt is one of the most charming towns in all of Switzerland.
The Chedi Andermatt’s Asian theme even extends into the kitchen. The hotel’s main dining room features Mandarin and Cantonese delicacies like dim sum, along with traditional fare, while a well-appointed Japanese restaurant, which wouldn’t look out of place in Tokyo, specializes in classic dishes like black cod with yuzu-miso sauce, “Alpine sushi” and Wagyu beef.
There’s also a chef’s table off the main dining room that’s popular with groups and families, and the “cheese closet” in the main dining area is stacked with many varieties and is a real crowd pleaser.
The hotel offers an extensive wine list, as well, and has over 6,000 bottles stored in its “wine library”, which sits opposite the cigar lounge where smokers can choose from 70 different brands of Cuban stogies. Both of these rooms are wrapped in oak, walnut and redwood — very inviting. The Chedi Andermatt also hosts an annual concert series which attracts renowned international stars like China’s Lang Lang and Russian opera singer Olga Peretyatko.
“We offer packages that combine stays with a gala dinner and concert,” Arabaci tells me over drinks at the Chedi’s classic bar. The Chedi Andermatt’s ski caddies take care of all your needs on the slopes and the hotel pays tribute to the sport with a small ski museum next to the bar area. The hotel is located in easy walking distance of Andermatt’s main ski lifts.
But leaving the comfort of your Chedi Andermatt room or its luxurious trappings won’t be easy.
Swiss Deluxe Hotels is a group representing 41 of Switzerland’s best hotels, which offer unique experiences in some of the most visited places in Switzerland. For information, go to www.swissdeluxehotels.com/en
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