Dream of a life in Alpine Andermatt: Sara Collins.

Author:Frey-Hasegawa, Erika
Position:Interview of month: sara collins - Cover story
 
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High up in the Swiss Alps, tucked away in a valley in the heart of Switzerland, is a historical holiday village called Andermatt. Its location is central to major European centres, such as Milano and Zurich. During its high-end resort days, Andermatt hosted royalty, including Queen Victoria of England. Celebrities such as writers Goethe and Schiller helped make the town famous world over as a prime location. In more recent times, movie stars like Sean Connery, taking a break from filming James Bond, enjoyed holidays in the alpine village.

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Historically merchants came through Andermatt as a convenient stopover town en route to the rest of continental Europe. The legendary Devil's Bridge, built and secured in 1198, had made the long and treacherous travel, a new safe possibility. Then came the construction of a train tunnel in 1882. The Gotthard Pass was opened; it provided a bypass that connected all four cultures of Switzerland and the rest of continental Europe. It revolutionized the routes between the North and South of the Alps even further. During World War II, Andermatt had become a military town. Swiss soldiers came to stay and their presence kept the local businesses thriving. Once World War II was over, however, the military had sent its soldiers home. The town became much quieter, it was almost a ghost town compared to its previous heydays. Local businesses started to close shop.

The traditional Swiss little town with just over 1300 residents was struggling to stay alive. Due to the economic changes, and the modernized railway, people no longer found the time, nor need to stop and smell the alpine roses. The locals and their community councilmen realized something had to be done. Word spread fast in Switzerland, it being a relatively small country. Land was becoming increasingly scarce in the early 21st Century. Swiss land and space was a hot topic not just in the real estate business world. Andermatt let the news out that it was open to innovative change.

Building a modern-day village in the Swiss Alps

Samih Sawiris, an Egyptian real estate developer and entrepreneur, educated in Germany, caught wind of the opportunity. His family, a well-established Egyptian Copta Christian family, founded Orascom, a corporation with businesses in telecommunications, construction and hotel development. The well-respected family...

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