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The view from the top of the ski lift on the Gemsstock.

The view from the top of the ski lift on the Gemsstock.

Photographer: Catherine Hyland for Bloomberg Businessweek

Pursuits
Travel

An Egyptian Billionaire Resurrected This Swiss Skiers’ Paradise

Switzerland’s Andermatt has all the makings of an ultra-luxury ski destination.

The first time Egyptian real estate mogul Samih Sawiris took a helicopter ride over the sleepy Swiss ski village of Andermatt, 14 years ago, he was struck by its remote wildness. The resort was only a 90-minute drive from Zurich, yet it felt like a secret hidden in the mountains of Uri, arguably the rugged country’s least discovered canton.

What the silver-haired chairman of Orascom Development Holding AG must have also seen was a blank slate. The appeal of European ski resorts, unlike that of their purpose-built American counterparts, is their sense of history. Think skiing into farming villages steeped in tradition, where the slopes and hotels and restaurants have been attracting winter tourists for—in some cases—well over a century.