Switzerland has traditionally held great appeal for tourists and investors because of its business-friendly environment, economic stability and strikingly beautiful landscape.
The beautiful Swiss village of Andermatt as seen in winter.
Well-heeled Thais who have dreamt of owning a Swiss residence can make that dream come true. The Chedi Andermatt Residences, a five-star development, is offering discerning buyers from Thailand and Asia an exclusive and rare opportunity to buy a Swiss home.
Olivier Croonenberghs, a partner at Swiss Finance & Property AG, said the company is introducing the project in Bangkok through property agent Savills Thailand before visiting Beijing, Taipei, Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta next month.
"Asian buyers are familiar with property in London, Australia and the south of France but not in Switzerland, as buying a resort home there requires a permit," he said during a visit to Bangkok last Thursday.
However, the company wants to market the property in Asia due to the increase in Asian tourist arrivals to the picturesque, mountainous country. The number of Asian visitors has grown by 20% per year for the last three years, with Chinese tourists increasing by 50%.
Moreover, the project offers freehold ownership with no restrictions.
Mr Croonenberghs said Swiss federal law prevents foreigners from acquiring residential properties in Switzerland without a permit, which limits buyers to a certain unit size and location. When they want to sell a property, they can sell only to Swiss people or non-Swiss who have a permit.
"In each village, the number of holiday homes is limited to not more than 20% of total residential units," he said. "The Swiss government wants to avoid ghost towns during the tourism low season."
However, the Swiss Federal Council granted The Chedi Andermatt project an exemption from the restrictions, as the government wants to promote property investment in Andermatt, which used to be a military camp before being transformed into a village.
Situated 1,444 metres above sea level, Andermatt is in the Swiss Alps, a 1.5-hour drive from Zurich airport and two hours from Milan.
The project will comprise nine five-storey blocks with 50 hotel rooms and 119 apartments sized from 110-655 square metres and priced from US$2-10 million.
Swiss Finance & Property, an investment and advisory firm based in Zurich, bought 73 apartments a year ago from the Egyptian developer Orascom Development Holding AG, which is listed on the stock market in Zurich.
"We acquired the units to resell and market because the developer was facing financial problems," Mr Croonenberghs said.
The other 46 apartments have been sold by the developer since the project was launched three years ago.
The first apartment block will be completed next month, while the hotel will open in December. The total development cost is $300 million, of which two-thirds is for residences.
Buyers can rent out their apartment, which will be managed by The Chedi Andermatt Hotel, the first Chedi hotel outside Asia. The room rate for a one-bedroom unit, the smallest size, will range from $1,000 to $2,000 per night. Buyers will receive half the gross rental revenue.
The project is located in Andermatt's Old Town. Nearby will be the new Andermatt Swiss Alps Development, which will include six hotels, 42 apartment buildings, 25 luxury villas, a shopping promenade, an 18-hole golf course, a sports centre and ski facilities.
After an investment by many private developers, the project will have an initial opening next year before being extended over the next 10 years.
"With this new large-scale development, our project will likely have a capital gain of 3-5% a year," Mr Croonenberghs said.
Swiss Finance & Property has been marketing The Chedi Andermatt Residences since June in Asia, starting with Singapore, where it attracted much interest, and Hong Kong.