Driving around a hairpin bend high in the Swiss Alps, we are greeted with another spectacular view of the valley below. We are on the Furka Pass – a winding mountain road almost 8,000 ft above sea level that runs between the towns of Gletsch and Andermatt.
It’s hard not to get caught up in the glamor of the scenery. It is, after all, the stretch of road used to film the legendary car chase scene in the 1964 James Bond movie Goldfinger, and you half expect to come across Sean Connery tearing round the corner in his Aston Martin.
But we haven’t come here on a James Bond pilgrimage. Rather, we are visiting The Chedi – a sprawling five-star resort nestled in the sleepy alpine village of Andermatt. It was here, over a decade ago, that Egyptian real estate mogul Samih Sawiris began his $1.3bn redevelopment plan to transform the remote valley into an ultra-luxe ski destination.
The hotel itself has the same sloping pitched roof as the traditional houses next door and, from the outside at least, looks like a typical Swiss chalet – albeit on a massive scale. It isn’t until you step foot inside, however, that you realize The Chedi Andermatt is perhaps not what you might have been expecting.
This is no ordinary ski lodge. The lobby is unashamedly extravagant with an enormous glittering Swarovski chandelier spanning the entire length of the 100-ft black marble reception desk. And yet, despite its size, the hotel retains an intimate feel thanks to the glossy dark wood finishes, comfy leather sofas topped with cashmere throws and warm glowing fireplaces (of which there are 200 scattered throughout the hotel).
Kuala-Lumpur-based designer Jean-Michel Gathy was brought in for the distinctive interiors. “People always say to me they have the feeling The Chedi Andermatt is Asian,” he tells me. “I think it’s because in Europe the architecture is more structured; you are in one room, and you go through a door into another room. But at the Chedi, everything is in one space, separated only by fantastic layers of lighting.”
This stylish East meets West aesthetic is also evident in the bedrooms. The Chedi Andermatt comprises 123 rooms ranging from the 559-sq-ft Deluxe category right up to the lavish 3,767-sq-ft Gotthard Suite which sleeps ten and boasts a gigantic terrace overlooking the stunning Gotthard massif mountain range.
Even the standard rooms are seriously luxurious with spacious balconies, comfy Hastens beds and gas fireplaces. You’ll find more of Gathy’s signature low-level lighting here, which, together with the pine-wood paneled walls give the rooms a cozy feel.
Bathrooms are accessed through sliding screen doors and feature freestanding tubs, black marble double vanities, monsoon showers and heated stone floors. The rooms are also kitted out with all the latest tech, including flat-screen TVs, Bose sound systems and blackout blinds that can be operated via the iPad.
Eco-conscious guests will be pleased to hear The Chedi Andermatt sources all of its electricity from hydroelectric and wind power from the local Gotthard region, while the hotel was built to exacting low energy standards.
When it comes to dining at The Chedi Andermatt, there are some excellent options. The restaurant features four open kitchens in one enormous space where you can watch the chefs preparing your meal. Adorned with sparkling chandeliers, dark granite columns and modern art, the dining room is open till late and has a buzzy atmosphere in the evenings.
There’s a generous selection of Asian and Swiss-inspired dishes to choose from with attentive waiting staff to guide you through the menu. We particularly enjoyed the delicate halibut salad dotted with banana blossom, cashew nuts and sesame seeds, and the spicy black pepper beef served with crispy garlic, bell pepper shallots and fried rice.
As for dessert, it’s worth saving room for the decadent chocolate sphere perfectly complemented by a rich chocolate sauce and refreshing orange sorbet. There is also an impeccable wine list – the hotel has a cellar stocked with over 1,600 bottles – and even a 16-foot-high cheese tasting room piled high with regional Swiss cheeses.
The star of the show, however, is the Michelin star Japanese Restaurant, helmed by talented executive chef Dietmar Sawyere. Try the five or ten course Kaiseki menu to sample the very best of his inventive sushi from spicy dragon rainbow rolls to sea scallop carpaccio.
And, from early July through October you can take the Gutsch Express gondola up 7,500 ft to the Japanese Restaurant’s mountaintop outpost for a truly unforgettable meal on the terrace with breathtaking views of the Urseren Valley. Remember to book in advance if you can as tables here fill up fast.
After dinner, head to the moodily-lit bar for a cocktail (stay for the DJ) before retiring to the Cigar Library where you’ll find a collection of ultra-rare cigars expertly sourced from around the world.
It’s easy to while away an afternoon at The Chedi Andermatt’s 25,000-sq-ft spa. Here, you’ll find a huge indoor pool dotted with loungers, a Finnish sauna and fitness center where you can take yoga and pilates classes. Our favorite spot, however, is the outdoor heated pool; the ideal setting for relaxing with a book and soaking up the mountain views.
Expert therapists are on-hand to carry out an array of treatments. We recommend the Chedi Himalayan massage with warm stones for melting away any lingering tension, and the Tata Harper moisture infusion facial which includes a calming raw organic honey mask to leave you with a dewy glow.
For those visiting during the winter months, The Chedi Andermatt is ideally located for hitting the slopes. Gemsstock, Natschen and Oberalp ski areas are located nearby, and the hotel employs ski butlers to drive you to the valley stations, sort out any equipment you need and even warm your ski boots.
We stayed during the summer, though, and there was still plenty to do. If you can brave the winding mountain roads, the best way to explore is by car. We took the hotel’s classic Morgan 4×4 out for a spin and drove up the iconic Furka Pass to the incredible Rhone Glacier Ice Grotto.
There’s also an array of hiking trails to explore in the surrounding area, idyllic lakes ideal for fishing, and an 18-hole golf course just a few minutes from the hotel.
The price per night for the Furka Suite starts at $15,200. email@example.com