Story and photos by Dr. Michael Lim The Travelling Gourmet TM
Copyright all rights reserved
All food photos are of REAL Food with no photoshop!
The intrepid and indomitable Travelling Gourmet travels to the land of Cuckoo clocks and chocolate to explore the…
MOUNTAINS of Switzerland…to Andermatt to be precise. It was a freezing 3 degrees Celsius. A howling wind chilled me to the bone as I stepped out from the train I had taken from Zuerich…Thegleaming big black Audi limousine was waiting…in a jiffy I was warm and snug as we drove along winding mountain roads covered with thick fresh snow…to Switzerland’s newest resort hotel that I had heard so much about. The curving roads like the tail of a dragon brought to mind that classic James Bond movie “Goldfinger”. Yes, “Goldfinger” was filmed here near Andermatt..Commander Bond…James Bond 007..drove on these very picturesque serpentine roads…in his sleek silver Aston Martin DB5 hot on the trail of Auric Goldfinger the bad guy…
46.6357 Latitude in decimal degrees, 8.59388 Longitude in decimal degrees
Elevation/Altitude of 1447 sea level.
The population is only 1258!
This quaint hamlet is nestled snugly like a cute puppy in the Urserntal Valley along the River Reuss as the principal town in the valley it extends up to the Oberalp Pass. strategically surrounded by the Gotthard, Furka and Oberalp Passes…the most opulent and luxurious hotel is indisputably the…
Captivating Chedi Andermatt
The Chedi Andermatt is one of the most glamourous and most well designed and well run resort hotels I have ever experienced! This impeccably visitor-friendly resort hotel is a gigantic architectural masterpiece of a 21st Century Ski Lodge with a harmonious fusion of exotic Asian and Swiss-Alpine features. Andermatt is well known to thousands of Swiss men who have undergone their Military Service (Statesman Lee Kwan Yew of Singapore got the idea for National Service and a Citizen Army from the Swiss!). A huge Army base was here and it was the secret headquarters for the Swiss Army. Something like Pulau Tekong BMT Center is to Singaporeans. Later, after the end of the Cold War, a new military strategy deemed it necessary to downsize. New tunnels through the Swiss mountains also meant that the village was bypassed by tourists in transit. This spelled disaster for the little town of Andermatt until…
Enter the White Knight!
Egyptian billionaire & Coptic Christian, Samih Sawiris, the scion of a wealthy family with numerous business interests, was engaged as a Consultant to rejuvenate Andermatt. For Samih it was ,,Liebe auf den ersten Blick” (love at first sight) and he determined to do morelove with the place and wanted to do more..The background is like this…
Time waswhen Andermatt was one of the great traffic hubs of Europe and enjoyed its golden age till the late 19th century . The gateway to the St Gotthard valley which is the direct route to Italy from the north of Europe, Andermatt was flanked by major mountain passes to the east and west. However, the Gotthard railway tunnel blasted through the mountains, opened in 1882. This meant that Andermatt was bypassed. In 1980, a road tunnel opened so Andermatt became rather quiet.
Swiss Army in…
Andermatt. It became a garrison town in 1885 and served as the Command and Control Centre in the event of war. It was the era of the Cold war with the USSR aiming nuclear missiles or ICBMs at the USA, Europe and vice versa. A barracks was built and up to 1,000 Swiss Army soldiers soldiers came at a time. Their mission: to undergo ski and mountain warfare training. There was even a heavy-arms firing range. After the end of the Cold Water the Swiss Army downsized, although it still has it Mountain Warfare School here.
The hotel is the first fruit of a project which has already taken eight years and cost 300 Million Swiss Francs! . The ambitious project was triggered by The Swiss Army’s decision to close the firing range and downscale other operations,thus releasing land suitable for development on the valley floor. When the elected leader of the local canton became aware of this opportunity, he mentioned it to a friend who is the Swiss consul in Egypt. The latter, in turn, mentioned it to his friend, Samih Sawiris. When Sawiris visited Andermatt in February 2005, his intention was simply to advise on the site…love blossomed which motivated him to decide that his company Orascom should embrace the project.
SIZE does matter!
Celebrated interior designer, Jean-Michel Gathy’s remarkable ground floor dining area called The Restaurant boasts wrap-around floor to ceiling windows and an open kitchen concept that encompasses four kitchens in one (Indian, International-Asian, Swiss-European and Japanese). This concept was pioneered by the Japanese designer for Grand Hyatt’s Mezza 9 restaurant and has since inspired many imitators. The centrepiece of this gastronomic wonder is a glass enclosed fabulous 5-metre high fromagerie. In less bombastic language, it is a spectacular and very impressive Cheese Tower! Dinner here is absolutely fabulous I kid you not!
Like being in an episode of…
Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous is what it feels like when you stay here. The spacious and well designed suites have their own electronic fireplace which amazingly looks like a real wood burning fire! Staying here is a hedonist’s dream come true.
Stay healthy..Work out daily!
The Gym is fantastic! Unlike other hotel gyms with a cold clinical and sterile look like a hospital operating theatre, this gym is warm and cosy and even has a sitting room chill out area in between two different sections. I tried out the most well equipped and most high tech Gym machines ever. You know, loyal readers, as The Travelling Gourmet TM, I always work out daily, and when I am reviewing hotels, I always try out their Gyms. Exercise is a necessity and not a hobby for me due to all the food and wine tasting I have to do. As the saying goes: Exercise is Medicine!
Swim and keep fit!
IN the Fitness Club the many swimming pools too are fabulous. The 3 heated Hydrotherapy pools will amaze you!. I like the quirky life sized four kneeling statues of 4 Mandarin figures with Lotus flowers in their hands. The Lap Pool is 35 m long and is very good for swimming laps to exercise and burning Calories. It is 1.3 meters deep. The outdoor heated pool in which I swam in many times is not so big but is really most invigorating! It feels absolutely surreal to be in the warm water surrounded on all sides by freezing ice and snow! A mysterious layer of mist floats over the pool…
Japanese and European Gourmet Treats!
The food and wines are outstanding and the Executive Chef is very creative and on the ball. In the modern European restaurant, the unique and impressive centrepiece is a 5m high Cheese Tower! I loved to go inside and just cut small pieces of different premium cheeses to eat with hazelnuts and figs and grapes! The Degustation Menus is outstanding!
I simply had to try the Japanese cuisine of Chef…
MATOBA…in the cosy and intimate Japanese restaurant. The Chef kindly prepared a special tasting menu for me
Rooms are very well equipped. In your super comfy and very spacious suite, the high tech iPad provided controls everything like the air con, lights, television, etc. It takes some getting used to, but is a very good feature that technophiles will find most appealing. This is Hi-Tech at its best!
After an enjoyable day of skiing on the piste of the Swiss Alps, return to a haven of apres-ski luxury and tranquility…Ah! This is really Heaven in the Alps!
I found out that sometimes there is a James Bond Festival in the region because the classic 1964 movie “Goldfinger” was filmed in the Andermatt region near the Chedi. I have suggested to the management, that the Chedi take a bigger role in this annual event so as to attract die-hard 007 fans to come to Andermatt in the Spring and Summer. The last one was in 2012. I have recommended to the management of the Chedi Andermatt that they organise an Annual 007 Festival in the summer.
Up in the high Alps of splendid Switzerland, the air is clean and very fresh. You feel free like a soaring eagle…
Below is an inspirational poem by Audie Murphy, America’s most decorated soldier of WW2…who won the Medal of Honour at the age of 19 at the Battle of the Bulge in Colmar, France. Audie Murphy held off hundreds of German soldiers single-handedly! Later he was a movie star and starred in his autobiographical movie “To Hell and back”. The line in his poem is deeply inspiring!
“Freedom flies in your heart like an eagle, let it soar with the high winds above.”
Where Has Freedom Gone?
- Dusty old helmet, rusty old gun,
- they sit in the corner and wait.
- Two souvenirs of the Second World War
- that have withstood the time and the hate.
- Many times I’ve wanted to ask them,
- and now that we’re here all alone,
- Relics all three of a long ago war,
- “Where has freedom gone?”
- Mute witness to a time of much trouble,
- where kill or be killed was the law.
- Were these implements used with high honor?
- What was the glory they saw?
- “Freedom flies in your heart like an eagle,
- let it soar with the high winds above.
- Among the spirits of soldiers now sleeping,
- guard it with care and with love.”
- I salute my old friends in the corner,
- I agree with all they have said,
- And if the moment of truth comes tomorrow,
- I’ll be free, or by God, I’ll be dead.
The Chedi Andermatt is a GHM hotel
To be continued…
More to follow…