Andermatt, until recently a ski resort in decline, is back with a bang. Its Gemsstock mountain has always appealed to freeriders and off-piste skiers, but its new hotels and its shared SkiArena with lift-linked Sedrun means it can now compete again as a mainstream winter sports resort.

In the Ursern Valley, at the crossroads of Switzerland’s North-South and East-West Alpine passes, Andermatt was once one of the traffic hubs of Europe. The opening of St Gotthard railway tunnel in 1882 and the road tunnel completion nearly a century later, however literally undermined Andermatt’s economy, turning a once thriving area into a dead end.

Its lifeline was the Swiss army. From 1885 to the early 21st century, Andermatt was a garrison town and this military occupation choked off its development as a ski resort. Andermatt had a snowy mountain, high ski lifts reaching to nearly 3,000m and narrow streets lined with traditional chalets but it also had barracks full of soldiers and a heavy-arms firing range.

Then the military left and into the void stepped an Egyptian-born destination developer, named Samih Sawiris and his Orascom company. He spent billions reinventing Andermatt as an upmarket year-round mountain resort. The town was transformed with new luxury hotels, apartments and chalets. New ski lifts linked Andermatt to the high plateau at Oberalp and then onto Dieni, a small lift station near Sedrun, creating the Andermatt-Sedrun SkiArena with over 120kms of pistes, making it a respectable mid-sized area for piste skiers.

For freeride enthusiasts, however, the jewel in its crown of Andermatt’s skiing remains unchanged: it’s still the naturally snowy, north-facing, 2,961m high Gemsstock mountain on the other side of town, which is the home of the famous Bernhard Russi black run and legendary off-piste routes such as Giraffe and Geissberg.

Andermatt has a wide range of accommodation options including the quirky Sonne Hotel and The Old Coaching Inn, as well as the luxurious Chedi Andermatt. The après-ski is relatively tame but it’s a nice place to wander around in the evenings with plenty of restaurants.

With its central location, Andermatt is easy to reach, and quick transfers from Zurich airport make it a popular weekend destination. For those who stay longer, day trips to Engelberg, another mecca for off-piste skiers, are possible but there is no lift-pass sharing arrangement.


Andermatt Resort Stats

Base: 1444 m
Peak: 2961 m
Vertical: 1517 m
Ski Area: 120 km
Longest Run: 7 km
Beginner: 23 %
Intermediate: 50 %
Advanced: 27 %
Number of ski lifts: 19
Lift Capacity: 21720
Ski Season Starts: mid-December
Ski Season Ends: mid-April
Nearest Airport: Zurich
Transfer Time: 1 hour 45 mins

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Andermatt Resort Ratings

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Total Ratings = 11

Ratings sum = 33

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