As reported on SnowBrains: Andermatt is part of the Epic Pass family now. If you’re thinking “whoopdidoo, what’s it to me?” let me tell you some reasons why you should take your family to Andermatt this year:
1. Free/cheap skiing: Epic pass holders will get unlimited access and epic local pass holders will get five days of skiing or boarding as part of the epic pass. A day ticket in Andermatt is only $98 in high-season ($87 low-season) and becomes cheaper the more days you buy, so a 15-day pass works out as just $53 a day during high-season ($46 low-season).
2. Strong US Dollar: CHF/USD – the Swiss Franc is roughly at parity with the US Dollar. One Frank will buy you about $1.05 (or $1 = CHF 0.95). It also makes prices easy to compare without any mental arithmetics.
3. Easy to get to: Andermatt is only 1.5 hours from Zurich airport. Flying time from NYC to Zurich is only 8 hours. Depending on where you live and where you ski, you could be here faster than your usual ski resort. Best of all, you could take the magical Glacier Express to get here if you have time to explore Switzerland. Andermatt is located right in the middle of the famous Glacier Express route from Zermatt to St. Moritz.
4. Cheap ski lessons: A private ski lesson is CHF 100 per hour in Andermatt, becoming cheaper the more hours and days you book. A full-day group lesson for a child including lunch is CHF 119 per day and also becomes cheaper the more days you book, coming down to CHF 67.42 if you book five consecutive days. Comparable lessons in Vail are 3-4 times that! And best of all: Swiss ski instructors do not expect a tip!
5. Three Michelin Star restaurants: Andermatt is home to not one, not two, but three Michelin Star restaurants: Japanese by The Chedi Andermatt, Gütsch, and The Chedi Andermatt. Yes, I know Courchevel has more Michelin Star restaurants but the place is also overrun with Brits and Russians. Which brings me to…
6. No crowds: Andermatt is comparably quiet. Lift lines are minimal during the week. Only weekends bring day-trippers from Zurich or Lucerne and make it busier but still very manageable, thanks also to the very modern lift infrastructure. The combined resort of Andermatt-Sedrun-Disentis now comprises 120 miles (180km) of groomed runs and 11 miles (18km) of backcountry runs which are serviced by a total of 33 lifts covering altitudes from 4,738 ft (1,444m) to 9,715 ft (2,961m). The lift infrastructure is new, state of the art, and has a capacity for 28,720 persons per hour.
7. CO2-neutral ski resort: Before it was purchased by Vail, Andermatt was owned by Egyptian billionaire Samih Sawiris, who purchased the bankrupt resort from the local commune in 2005. Sawiris is an expert in creating resorts, albeit usually in the desert. His development application for a CO2-neutral ski resort was approved in 2008 and since then he invested $2 billion into the resort. He built hotels, roads, and lifts and invested in snow-making infrastructure. Andermatt partnered with Protect our Winters (POW) Switzerland in 2018. The resort runs entirely on renewable energy.
8. Cheese: …I mean… it’s Switzerland after all. If you’re lactose intolerant, then skip over the next two points. Cheese is one of Switzerland’s staple foods. Melt it, stick it on bread, pour it over a potato, you name it, they do it. So why not throw that paleo/keto/nomad out of the window for a week (let’s call it a cheat week) and indulge in some raclette or fondue while in Switzerland? Or you could just look at it, like at the beautiful cheese room in The Chedi Andermatt (yes, they have a room just for cheese… what’s not to love about that?).
9. The Land of Chocolate: Switzerland is the birthplace of chocolate. Swiss chocolatiers discovered how to make the brittle, grainy chocolate known up until the 19th century into the delicious, melt-in-the-mouth chocolate, that we know today. You can for example tour the Sprüngli-Lindt factory or the Läderrach factory or even take a chocolate-making course. Or you could just eat lots of it, I’m not judging.
10. Ski like James Bond: Andermatt is the home of James Bond stunt skier and Olympic gold and silver medallist Bernhard Russi. He did the famous jump from the villain Blofeld’s headquarters and night-skiing scene in “On her Majesty’s Secret Service.” Bernhard has a 4-mile (6 km) run named after him here. After he retired from competitive skiing, Bernhard became a licensed designer of Olympic Downhill courses. While the Bernhard Russi run is not an olympic run, it is a challenging, long black run descending 3,117 ft (950m) in altitude where Russi was known to have trained. Alternatively, you can drop into the powder on the side of the groomed run which is popular with freeriders. Either way, it is a spectacular descent from the Gemsstock peak.