Maria Boyle enjoys a return to the slopes with a Swisstainable twist

Ski holidays are back and with eco conscious teens in tow, Maria Boyle discovered that Andermatt, in the heart of the Swiss Alps, offers the perfect sustainable destination to visit

As a family, we have been lucky to ski each year for the last decade in Italy, Austria and France so there was much excitement to return to the slopes following two years of no snow action given the pandemic.

We spent hours studying a number of destinations, their associated travel restrictions, form filling and testing requirements and chose Switzerland as it was one of the easiest countries to enter given we only had to be fully vaccinated with a Passenger Locator Form and no PCRs or rapid antigen certificates were needed.

Our party of two adults and three eco-conscious children aged 13, 14 and 16, decided on the resort of Andermatt, one of Switzerland’s oldest and most picturesque villages at the foot of the Gotthard mountain. We were all excited to visit, to explore the Andermatt Swiss Alps, find out about its recent Swisstainable Award and hit the slopes in one of the most sustainable ways possible.

First class accommodation
For a village with only 1,500 permanent residents, Andermatt has an excellent selection of quality accommodation for visitors. There is the newly built four star Raddison Blu Reussen hotel which offers 180 rooms and suites, a fitness and wellness centre, restaurant and bar and a 25-metre swimming pool with views of the surrounding mountains. If money is no object, there is also the ultra chic five star Chedi hotel. Located on Andermatt’s main street, it has 123 rooms and suites, each with its own fireplace and balcony.

Given we were family and friends travelling together, we opted for the newly built Andermatt Apartments as they offered the widest choice of affordable accommodation (starting from studio apartments to 4 bedroom penthouses). Our three-bedroom, two bathroom apartment had an Alpine feel throughout, floor to ceiling windows with mountain views, a well-stocked open-planned kitchen, dining area and cosy living space and brilliant WiFi (the teens were happy!). Located in the village centre, which is a car-free zone, it was ideally situated to take advantage of the nearby restaurants, bars and shops.

A village steeped in history
After settling in, we decided to explore and booked a one-hour walking tour of Andermatt. Local guide Bänz Simmen knows more about the long history of the village than probably anyone else. The tour took us all around the charming mountain village, with its cobbled streets and gingerbread looking houses.

A wonderful character, Bänz is a walking encyclopaedia on the local flora and fauna, history and events of Andermatt. He told us about the many famous visitors to the village including Arthur Conan Doyle, Charles Dickens, Queen Victoria and even 007 himself (in 1964, Sean Connery stayed in the village and filmed Alpine scenes for Goldfinger).

He explained how Andermatt was a well-kept secret among European skiers—a place with phenomenal snow and no one to share it with. It was an escape from the crowded slopes of Chamonix or Verbier, and a world away from the pomp of Courchevel or Zermatt. The village itself was not quite a ghost town, but the Swiss army base that had been its lifeblood for 125 years closed down, rendered obsolete by the end of the Cold War, and the local population was dwindling. With only limited tourism from skiing, it was hard to see how village could survive and was at risk of being bulldozed and made in to a dam. However, this all changed. In 2005, Egyptian businessman Samih Sawiris invested £1.4 billion/ Euros 1.7 billion to breathe new life in to the village, undertaking a total transformation in to a year-round ski and golf resort on a scale never before seen in the Alps without stifling the authentic soul and charm of the village. Bänz smiled, he is happy that Andermatt is thriving and visitors are returning.

Swisstainable at the heart of the resort
While a lot of tourist destinations, resorts and hotels claim to be sustainable, from having visited a number, it is only a few that truly are and my eco-aware teens can spot them a mile off. (For example, a recent visit to a family resort in Puglia that claimed to be plastic-free was caught out by my daughter when her ice-cream came with a disposable plastic spoon.) Andermatt though is one shining success story. Everywhere we went we could see sustainability in action. For example, its new hotels and apartments have been ecologically designed using reduced energy requirements. The whole resort runs on renewable energy. There are free e-bus shuttles and a ban on single-use plastics. Left over, unused bread in bakeries and restaurants is collected and made in to breadcrumbs and croutons, its Edelweiss apartments include communal food fridges for departing guests to leave in date food that would otherwise go in the bin so others can use. Heating is predominantly climate-neutral using wood chips from the local area. The ski lifts and snowmaking systems for the mountain railways in Andermatt and Sedrun use 100 per cent renewable energy. The resort even re-uses its snow and covers around one hectare of the glacier in fleece each Spring to prevent it melting and it has just acquired its first hybrid PistenBully to maintain the slope (compared with a traditional diesel vehicle, PistenBullys cut greenhouse gases by 20 per cent and soot particles by 99 per cent). That’s why the Swiss Tourism has given Andermatt a Swisstainable Award in September 2021 for its commitment to sustainability.

Snow time
At an altitude of 1,400m above sea level, snow is more reliable in Andermatt than in St Moritz and Verbier.
The resort is suitable for skiers of all levels, offering 180km of pristine slopes. There are two main terrains: Adrenalin seekers can hit the powder and go off-piste on the Gemsstock mountain. At its peak, 2961m high, it offers snow-sure runs with a 1500m vertical drop – definitely not for the faint hearted! The other terrain is the linked ski areas of Andermatt, Sedrun and Disentis. This is where we first got our ski legs back on the long winding blue back down to the resort as the snow fell. We then progressed on to the well-groomed reds and enjoyed exploring the linked ski areas in the freshest of conditions. Bliss. What was also particularly brilliant was that we did not have to queue once for ski lifts in the peak February half term!

As our legs began to ache, we decided to enjoy a celebratory lunch and booked Gütsch by Markus Neff. The Michelin-starred restaurant, located at 2344m on the summit of the Gutsch ski area, has been named the best mountain restaurant in Switzerland. With its modern Alpine and stylish interior, Neff’s innovative menu changes by season and was the culinary highlight of our visit to Andermatt. Every dish was a taste sensation with ingredients sourced locally where possibly and accompanied by mouth-watering wines from the region. Diners just need to remember to book in advance given it's the place to eat.
After a few more runs, we decided to call it a day and checked out the après ski scene in the village. There is a fairly good selection of bars to visit. Asian inspired cocktails in The Chedi’s bar with its leather sofas, high ceilings and resident DJ are a must. Vinothek 1620 is a great little wine bar and is located in one of the oldest houses in the village dating back to 1620, hence the name. And also the owners of Verbier’s La Vache restaurant (singer James Blunt, rugby player Lawrence Dallaglio and motorbike racer Carl Fogarty) have opened The Pot Luck Club in the village serving Tapas.
As the teens were tired, we decided to stay near the apartments and booked dinner at Restaurant Biselli which can be found at Piazza Gottardo. The restaurant offered a mix of Swiss and Italian dishes, all freshly cooked, it was perfect for family and friends dining after a day on the slopes. As well as a restaurant it’s also a bakery, a bar and a chocolate shop so worth a visit anytime of the day.

During out stay we planned to ski to the linked slopes in Disentis but the weather was not good at the top of the mountain so we opted for the ski train (included in the ski pass). The Matterhorn Gotthard Railway offered the most magical, panoramic views, passing magnificent 3,000-metre peaks and glittering winter forests. Running hourly in winter from Andermatt via the Oberalp Pass to Disentis, this is an experience not to be missed and can be enjoyed by both skiers and non-skiers.

Unlike other ski resorts we had visited in Italy, France and Austria, we were impressed to see the resort even had a series of dedicated sledging runs for the whole family to enjoy while taking in breathtaking views of Andermatt as well as an ice rink located near the apartments.

Fondue oh I do….
Andermatt has a diverse food scene, offering everything traditional Swiss inns, mountain bars and family restaurants as well as not one but two Michelin star eateries. For us, no trip to the mountains can be complete without fondue and we had heard Restaurant Ochsen was the place to go to and where locals frequent. Portions are plentiful and the fondue (the owner does not reveal his secret recipe to anyone) was a taste sensation. We also enjoyed a visit to the family run Restaurant Toutoune which serves wonderful Mediterranean dishes including falafel, various tarte flambée, fresh pastas and salads. Perfect for large groups who all want something different to eat as well as fussy teens.

Queen of the Alps
On our final day, we were all shattered so the teens enjoyed a swim in the Raddison Blu’s swimming pool, which is open to the public, just book a place in advance of a visit. I was craving something more restorative and tried out the Raddison Blu’s beautiful Uela Spa. Signature treatments are inspired by the surroundings and Uela’s spa manager recommended its latest treatment: Queen of the Alps massage (190 CHF for 60 minutes). This is the only spa in Switzerland offering this massage which uses Swiss stone pine, known for lowering the heart rate, reducing stress, stabilising circulation and preventing sleep disorders. It was the perfect treatment to end our first but not last stay in Andermatt and, I have to admit, I left feeling like the Queen of the Alps!

After four fabulous days in Andermatt, it was time to return home. Sad to go, we left re-energised and inspired, with a renewed appreciation of how to holiday in a Swisstainable way. Bravo Andermatt!

Andermatt Apartments:
Prices start from £150 per might/ Euros 180 during the ski season

Andermatt Alpine Apartments is offering “Stay 5 Nights, Pay 4 Nights”. To book this, guests should write the code “UKLateski2022” in the email to reception (
Andermatt Alpine Apartments are modern, high quality luxury apartments, just a short walk away from the ski area and restaurants. They come with a fully fitted kitchen, including dishwasher and oven and have views over the Bäzberg mountain and the Reuss river or Piazza Gottardo and Andermatt Old Town. Apartments range from studios up to 4 bedrooms and come with a concierge who can help book activities: Holiday apartments (

Just 90 minutes’ drive from Zurich and two hours from Milan, it’s easily accessible.
British Airways flies London Heathrow to Zurich, from £82 return (baggage not included)
British Airways flies London Heathrow to Zurich, from £102 return (baggage included)