My swiss experience.
First the food fesival in St.Moritz, later on to the Chedi in Andermatt.
A luxurious 5 star contemporary hotel and apartment development set in the exquisite natural beauty of the Swiss Alps or better how an Egyptian billionaire is looking to reinvent the Swiss skiing experience, in building a giant chalet.
It combines the traditional with the modern in its architecture and blends with the unrivalled serenity of the valley. The careful management of this project ensures that these spectacular surroundings remain un-spoilt for generations to come.
The Chedi Andermatt is an opportunity become part of an exclusive community of the future.
We enjoyed it.
It’s cold outside, an easterly wind is whipping snow off the roof and onto the flame fountains dotting the garden, where it vaporizes with a sizzle. Prominent hotel, property developers, big media guys are standing around smoking Domrep Davidoff cigars.
Behind them is a gigantic creation of Asia/Swiss fusion, a hotel that would be spectacular even in Moritz, but has even more effect for being in the heart of this previously little-known resort. The Chedi is just a drop in the snowfield. On the other side of the railway tracks at the end of the garden is the rest of the development, still a building site, that will see lots of “Stutz” invested in a several hotels, a golf course, numerous apartment buildings, luxury shops and even an entire new lift system, all built to a carbon-neutral standard that means the owners claim Andermatt Swiss Alps the name of the new resort will be the greenest place to ski in the Alps, if not the world.
For “The Chedi” it is a bit strange to have an Asian welcome in the middle of the Alps.
But not as curious as the whole development, which, from Chedi to new lift system, is being created by an Egyptian billionaire, who has been called in by the Swiss to rescue and revitalize one of their crumbling resorts.
The owner Mr. Sawiris, who had created an entire town, Gouna, on the Red Sea, not just hotels and infrastructure but schools, hospitals, local housing and administration told us he saw potential for a giga resort. Andermatt’s location on the north face of the Alps provides excellent snow cover, its position near the Zurich motorway and railway means rapid access.
Several years, and an enormous amount of persuading, cajoling and negotiating later – Switzerland, for all its beauty, is not a place that adapts rapidly to either change or foreigners of darker skin hue, let alone foreigners bringing change, it’s a beautiful hotel, and the projected apartments, which first sold slowly, and are selling more rapidly now the hotel is there. Hmm, next year, Samih’s people are installing a new lift with an entrance in the hotel’s back garden.
Being there with Samih and his beautifully brought up family, as well as the elegant Chedi people and their friends, gave pause for reflection on the nature of business and wealth. The Sawiris family are properly self-made, for Egypt has no natural resources for its business leaders. And there are far easier ways of increasing your wealth than trying to transform a conservative community in central Switzerland into a fabulous resort, which would be a challenge for a Swiss, let alone an Egyptian.
So what does drive him? The ego, could be.
I suspect, watching the great and good of Zurich and beyond, the rather conservative European wealthy who stared wide-eyed at the dramatic interiors, a glass of Taittinger in hand, Samih is driven by a desire to do thingsthat others say are impossible. Good luck.
Photos: Michael Keller & Jens Hoffmann