The Swiss alpine village of Andermatt has seen many incarnations over the years, including popular ski resort and garrison town for the Swiss army. But in the last few years this extraordinarily beautiful location has seen a major revival with Andermatt Swiss Alps (ASA) developing a whole new year-round resort complex, including residential apartments, chalets, 18-hole championship golf course, retail village, hotels, sports centre and leisure facilities. It is crowned by the five star-plus Chedi Andermatt, the first European location for the famous luxury hotel group. Chedi Andermatt is a ski chalet on steroids – ultra-large, ultra-contemporary and ultra-luxurious. The hugely experienced architect Jean-Michel Gathy of Denniston has built a mountain refuge that combines the beauty of traditional chalets with the modern necessities of a high-end hotel in the 21st century.
Describe the ethos behind the Chedi Andermatt
The chalet is a happy combination of the aesthetics of local Swiss design and service with the sophisticated, ‘Asian’ feel that Gathy is famous for – dramatic public spaces made human with layering elements, large bedrooms made cosy in the same way, lots of rich woods and clever lighting, fabulous bathrooms and a striking inside/outside aesthetic that makes the most of the fabulous views. And as you might expect of a Swiss resort, the spa is spectacular – all 2,400m2 of it. The lobby and bar areas feature rich earthy tones with roaring open-plan fires and comfortable seating.
Does Chedi Andermatt’s external design differ from a traditional chalet?
Jean-Michel Gathy says, “All the traditional architectural components of a chalet have been respected, for example the pitch of the roof, materials, the concept of cladding, terraces and so on. But they are created in a contemporary fashion. Take the latticework: the element that would have been in timber is now in glass creating a semi-enclosed terrace, while the cladding hides some very high-end insulation. But we also have to serve commercial concerns, so the windows are very big to see the views and have triple glazing for warmth and energy conservation, there’s a fireplace in every room and it’s five stories high so enough people can stay for it to be financially viable.”
Who designed the interiors?
When Gathy pronounces that Denniston does ‘everything’ he is not exaggerating. Denniston are used by many major luxury hotel brands including Aman, One&Only and Mandarin Oriental, and they offer a complete service from landscaping to furnishing via sourcing art objects and flooring. They even created the murals, which are based on the Marie de Medici Cycle by Rubens. Gathy says: “It’s very much in line with the paintings done on the face of the chalets in the Uri Canton where Chedi Andermatt is situated. They have gables painted with beautiful, lively people enjoying life and we designed the same thing. It wasn’t used on the external of the building in the end but we kept the concept to bring a sense of lively happiness into the rooms.”
How about the lighting and bathroom elements?
The very striking lighting – in the bedrooms the antique-style lamps are designed to look like a starry sky – was done by Australian firm Flaming Beacon, while the bathroom fixtures and fittings (including spectacular free-standing tubs) are by Kaldewei and Grohe. The stone behind some of the baths is a Belgian blue stone which has been cleft finished, giving a very dramatic look.
And externally, was there any landscaping?
With the incredible view, very little. IPC Nathan Browning, who specialise in logistically challenging locations, did what was needed. Gathy explains: “There was a certain amount of hardscaping like the entry area, swimming pool and so on… In the courtyard at the back we needed to open the view so we created a long body of water. In the summer it’s a reflecting pool, in the winter it’s an ice rink.”
Chedi offers the concept of ‘adjustable living’ – how does that work?
The Alps are no longer just a winter destination, now the summer season is just as big. So the swimming pool is both internal and external, and it’s far more likely you’ll sit on your terrace and enjoy the sun. Chedi Andermatt’s fireplaces open both inwards and outwards so you can enjoy the fireplace inside or turn it around to the terrace so you can eat outside in warmer weather and watch the sunset.
How about the spa and restaurant?
The spa offers a temperature-controlled outdoor lap pool, a 35-metre indoor pool, hydrothermal baths, state-of-the-art gym, Finnish saunas, steam baths and 10 treatment rooms. The main and Japanese restaurants are the one aspect of the hotel not designed by Denniston. They are by SPIN Studio which has created a sleek dining experience in the main room, framing fabulous views of the mountains, while in the Japanese restaurant the sushi bar and wooden screen set the tone.
What about when other Andermatt stages are built?
ASA will not build further resort buildings until they have been bought, thus making sure there’s no ‘empty’ feel. While Denniston has done the masterplan for the extension to the existing village, individual houses will be done by other architects to create a quirky, organic feel. It will be fascinating to see how the resort changes over the years, however one thing is for sure – with properties starting at £1.3million, it’s going to be high end.