Wednesday, April 27, 2011

✈Worldwide Wednesdays: ICE Hotels

Where shall we travel to today?....

ICE Hotels
Ok, I don't know about you folks, but sleeping, drinking even going to the bathroom sur la glace, isn't really my cup of tea.  But for those of you who just can't get chilled enough, here are some ice hotels you might want to stay at on your next vacation!  First let's explain what an ice hotel is shall we...

An ice hotel is a temporary hotel made up of snow, sculpted blocks of ice, and some steel framing. They are promoted by their sponsors and have special features for travelers who are interested in novelties and unusual environments, and thus are in the class of destination hotels. Their lobbies are often filled with ice sculptures, and food and beverages are specially chosen for the circumstances.

All of the ice hotels are reconstructed every year, and are dependent upon constant sub-freezing temperatures during construction and operation. The walls, fixtures, and fittings are made entirely of ice, and are held together using a substance known as snice (snow-like appearance but ice-like physical characteristics), which takes the place of mortar in a traditional brick-built hotel.

Icehotel (Jukkasjärvi), SWEDEN

Main hall in ICEHOTEL
Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, 2007.
 Sculptures by Jörgen Westin
pic by Wiki user Laplandish
 The Icehotel (styled as ICEHOTEL) in the village of Jukkasjärvi, about 17 km from Kiruna, Sweden, erected each year from December to April, was the world's first ice hotel, first opening in 1990. 

In 1989, Japanese ice artists visited the area and created an exhibition of ice art. In Spring 1990, French artist Jannot Derid held an exhibition in a cylinder-shaped igloo in the area. One night there were no rooms available in the town, so some of the visitors asked for permission to spend the night in the exhibition hall. They slept in sleeping bags on top of reindeer skin - the first guests of the "hotel".

The entire hotel is made out of snow and ice blocks taken from the Torne River - even the glasses in the bar are made of ice.

Each spring, around March, Icehotel harvests tons of ice from the frozen Torne River and stores it in a nearby production hall with room for over 10,000 tons of ice and 30,000 tons of snow. The ice is used for creating Icebar designs and ice glasses, for ice sculpting classes, events and product launches all over the world while the snow is used for building a strong structure for the building. About 1,000 tons of what is left is used in the construction of the next Icehotel. 

 When completed, the hotel features a bar, church, main hall, reception area and rooms and suites for over 100 guests to sit and sleep on blocks of sculpted ice in the form of chairs and beds. There is also warm accommodation available next to the hotel. The Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi is known to be the biggest hotel of ice and snow in the world, spanning over some 6 000 m². Each suite is unique and the architecture of the hotel is changed each year, as it is rebuilt from scratch. Each year artists submit their ideas for suites and a jury selects about 50 artists to create the church, Absolut Icebar, reception, main hall and suites. When spring comes, everything melts away and returns to the Torne River. The Icehotel only exists between December and April, and has been listed as one of the Seven Wonders of Sweden.

Fun Fact: The ice palace in the Bond movie "Die Another Day" was inspired by this hotel.

 'The Banished Dragon' Art suite in ICEHOTEL Jukkasjärvi, Sweden.
Made by Valli Schafer & Barra Cassidy.
pic by Wiki user Laplandish

Icehotel Chapel

ICEHOTEL in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, melting away 2008
pic by Wiki user Laplandish


Kirkenes Snow Hotel

Kirkenes Snow Hotel is situated in the eastmost town of Norway, close to the Norwegian-Russian border. The hotel had its first season during winter 2006/2007, the hotel had 20 rooms and the largest snow dome in Norway (8 metres high and 12 metres in diameter). All the rooms were individually decorated by the ice artists from Finland and Japan. The west Snow Hall was decorated by a local sculptor Arild Wara. A night in the snow hotel is combined with a special dinner prepared on an open fire, the visitors can also get a sauna before or after staying at the hotel. There is also a reindeer park and a husky farm in the hotel area.

Ice LodgeThe Ice Lodge is one of the largest in Norway and part of the Bjorligard Hotel. It has a longer season than most ice hotels because of its altitude (1,250 meters above sea level).

Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel, Alta

Sorrisniva Igloo hotel, Alta has been rebuilt yearly since 2000. It is Europe’s northernmost ice hotel, as it is located in the Finnmark region and is approximately 250 km from North Cape. The 2000 square meter hotel has 30 rooms, including 2 suites and it is decorated with numerous ice sculptures and ice furnishings, including lighting systems which enhance the different types of crystalline formations.

Besides the bedrooms the hotel also contains an ice chapel, ice gallery and ice bar where drinks are served in glasses made of ice. The Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel in Alta has a changing theme every year. In 2004, it was a Viking theme, in 2005, Norwegian fairytales, and in 2006, the theme was wild animals of the region. The guests use sleeping bags that sit on top of reindeer hides.

Lainio Snow Village, FINLAND

Each year in late November, about one thousand truck loads of snow are used to create the Snow Village - a complex of ice and snow, changing shape and size every winter while retaining its unique magic, combining ice artistry, handicraft and breathtaking constructions made of snow. Covering an area of about 20 000 square metres, the Snow Village consists of a restaurant, a bar, lobbies, hotelrooms and suites as well as outdoor buildings such as walls, slides and sculptures, made of nothing but crystallized water.

In Snow Village, you can spend a night in the SnowHotel, have a dinner in the IceBar or enjoy the igloo disco with drinks served in ice glasses. Or you can just marvel at the magnificent sculpture art all around the area. Snow Village is located in Western part of Finnish Lapland, in close proximity of Ylläs and Levi ski-resorts and easily reachable from the international airport of Kittilä.
Ice Suite, Lainio Snow Village, 2008

Snow Village is built entirely of snow and ice covering approximately an area of 20 000 square metres. During the winter season there are about 3000 square metres of covered indoor spaces built as a combination of different snow and ice structures. The architectural design and the themes of interior decoration vary from year to year offering always a unique experience. Visitors can find in there for example the biggest ice dome of Europe and an á la carte restaurant with ice carved tables and bar, in addition to amazing snow galleries full of beautifully illuminated ice art.

At Snow Village you can also experience an overnight stay in a room made of snow. Because of the good insulating features of snow, the indoor temperature of Snow Village remains always between -2 and -5 Celsius degrees, regardless of the outdoor temperature. There are approximately 30 rooms, all made of ice and snow. Individually decorated suites with different themes are also available.

Bâlea Lake Ice Hotel, ROMANIA

In 2006, the first ice hotel in Eastern Europe was built in Romania, deep in the Făgăraş Mountains, at an altitude of 2034 m. Due to its altitude and remote location the Ice Hotel is only accessible via cable car in the winter.

This picturesque setting is next to Bâlea Lake, where each year local craftsmen wait for the lake to freeze, before using the ice to build the small 14 room Ice Hotel and its adjacent Ice Church. Local artists imitate sculptures by Romanian modernist sculptor, Constantin Brâncuşi. Typically the hotel is completed in December and is open until it melts in late April or early May.

Bedding, furs, specialized sleeping bags are all provided, with bathroom facilities nearby. There are also two chalets within walking distance, which also provide accommodation. Activities such as skiing, sledging or perhaps a ride on a snow bike are on offer. For those who are more organised and adventurous you can even arrange heliskiing.

The Bâlea Lake Ice Hotel is Romanian owned, but has a relationship with a travel company Untravelled Paths Limited, based in the United Kingdom.

Hôtel de Glace (Ice Hotel), CANADA
The Ice Hotel near Quebec City, Quebec, Canada is the first ice hotel in North America.

The Ice Hotel opened on New Year's Day in 2001. For its first year it was located in Montmorency Falls Park, which is on the outskirts of Quebec City, with plans right from the beginning to move to the nearby Duchesnay resort for its next year, where it has been built ever since.

The hotel is located 5 km north of Quebec City, on the first slopes of the Laurentian mountains, in the Charlesbourg borough. It is the first ice hotel in North America and is built each December for an opening date in early January. The hotel has a four-month lifespan each year before being brought down in April. It had 22 beds when it first opened in 2000. In its last iteration it had 85 beds, all made of ice but lined with deer furs and covered with mattresses and Arctic sleeping bags. Only the bathrooms are heated and located in a separate insulated structure.

It takes about a month and a half to build with 60 workers. The Hotel makes its own snow using a special mixture to adjust the humidity. It is built with metal frames, it is allowed to harden for a few days, and then the cranes are removed. The hotel is made of 15,000 tons of snow and 500,000 tons of ice and the walls are up to four feet thick.

The hotel is usually made (the architecture and size may vary from season to season) in arches over rooms with 16 foot (5 m) and larger and higher spaces for one art galleries a club dubbed the N'Ice Club, an "Ice Café" and a 60-feet slide. The walls are over 4 feet (1.2 m) thick on average. All furniture is made of ice. In addition to using ice glasses as in the Kiruna ice hotel, the bar (and room service) also serves cold cuts on ice plates.
Amenities include a nightclub, movie theater, indoor heated washrooms and outdoor hot tubs.

The hotel has been described as a "tourist hotspot" and is backed by Quebec's tourism department. For its first year, it costs $350,000 to build, including $125,000 from the Quebec government.
Tours are available in French or English, seven days a week, and the hotel is otherwise open to the public. After the fourth season, the official statistics reported 220,000 visitors and 10,500 overnight guests. In its fifth season, it hosted around 70,000 tourists.


There is a chapel where weddings are celebrated. The Ice Hotel has been described as one of the "10 dream wedding locations."
Eighteen weddings were conducted for the 2003 season, and the Ice Hotel had its first same-sex wedding in February 2005, after same-sex marriages became legal in Quebec in April of the previous year.

Now, if you're like me and would love to... how do we say, 'have your cake and eat it too', meaning to have the best of both worlds, then there's always the Aurora Ice Museum, lol.

Aurora Ice Museum, USA

Chena Hot Springs Resort in Alaska, USA, is home to the world’s largest year-round ice environment in the world, the Aurora Ice Museum! It was created from over 1,000 tons of ice and snow all harvested at the resort. The museum was completed in January 2005 and stays a cool 20° Fahrenheit (-7° Celsius) inside. Keeping the museum icy cold in the heat of summer comes from the patented absorption chiller, the first of its kind in the world used for this purpose!

The Aurora Ice Museum gallery features amazing ice sculptures created by 15 time world champion ice carver Steve Brice, certified N.I.C.A (National Ice Carving Association) and his wife, Heather a 6 time world champion.

Within the museum, they have created a two story observation tower with a circular staircase, life size jousters on horse back, a polar bear bedroom, a Christmas tree bedroom, a kid's snowball 2 story fort, an igloo and an ice outhouse among other pieces of ice art and additional chambers made exclusively with their Alaska Diamond or Alaska Marble ice.

As you step inside the ice museum for the very first time, you are mesmerized by the ever-changing colored ice crystal chandeliers overhead depicting the Aurora Borealis.
After touring the museum, relax at the Aurora Ice Bar. Enjoy sipping their specialty beverage an “appletini” in an ice carved martini glass while awed by your surroundings. Sit comfortably on their caribou fur covered stools and take in the view or warm your hands by the ice fireplace. The Aurora Ice Museum at Chena Hot Springs Resort is truly one of a kind because it is open year-round!


All this -   at 20° Fahrenheit (-7° Celsius) when it's still warm outside.. hmmmm.. nice.

Never-the-less they are all great hotels in their own unique ways!!   And there are MANY MANY more like the Lumilinna SnowCastle in Kemi, Finland, the Bjorli Ice Lodge in Bjorli, Norway; the Ice Hotel in Hunderfossen, Norway; Igloo Village in Saariselkä, Finland and probably more that I still have yet to discover.  However, with the aid of this article, hopefully you will now have a better understanding and appreciation for these ICE HOTELS!
What a truly unique experience this would be vacationing at anyone of them!  Fascinating!

1 comment:

  1. Ice hotels are made normally in winter at very few places in the world. It is almost reserved prior to its building. It gives you some unique experience to stay there.

    Hotel Gramado


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