Saturday, January 17, 2009
While many people enjoy traveling south during the winter to seek out warmer temperatures in more tropical climates, for an adventurous few, ice and snow is their calling.
Perhaps this is why the Ice Hotel, a luxury facility made entirely of ice and snow, has become an international destination and phenomena, leading to the building of other ice hotels in Canada, Romania and across Scandinavia.
A room inside the Ice Hotel
Architecturally and logistically, the Ice Hotel is simply remarkable. Each year in the little village of Jukkasjârvi in northern Lapland, Sweden, 5,000 tons of ice and 30,000 cubic meters of snow are used to create the majestic structure. The building of the hotel, which changes in design and architecture every year, takes about six to seven weeks, depending on the weather. Building begins in November and is complete in December, which is when the Ice Hotel opens. Overnight visitors can stay in the Ice Hotel until temperatures begin to rise in April and early May, when it begins to melt and returns to the Torne River, which is the source of the ice and snow the hotel is made of.
In addition to the more than 80 rooms that make up the hotel's structure, it also includes the Absolut Ice Bar, an outdoor entertainment arena and an ice chapel where couples from around the world come to be joined in matrimony. Saunas and the Ice Hotel Restaurant are considerably warmer than the 18 to 23 degrees Fahrenheit interior of the hotel, giving guests a chance to warm up during their stay, although entrees served at the restaurant are elegantly served on plates of ice.
The Ice Chapel
The Ice Hotel recommends staying one night in their cold accommodations to fully experience this frozen wonder of the world, but also to spend one to two nights in warm accommodations such as a Scandinavian style Kaamos hotel room, Nordic hotel chalet or their Northern Lights hotel chalet.
You might be wondering how people are able to spend the night in such a cold place, especially when the beds are made of ice! Well, the beds, which have a thick mattress, are covered with reindeer skin and then each guest is given a thermal sleeping bag that can protect in up to -13 degree weather. This may keep you warm while you're inside the Ice Hotel, but beware that outside of the icy walls, temperatures can reach 50 degrees below during the winter months. The Ice Hotel has an entire page of recommendations of what clothing to pack for your stay, but they do provide each guest with outerwear including snowmobile overalls, a hat, mittens and winter boots.
The activities the Ice Hotel offers vary from snowmobile outings to skiing, ice sculpting, dog-sledding and reindeer sleigh rides. Other excursions include ice fishing, hunting and even a 3-course starlit wilderness dinner where, if you're lucky, you'll get to see the mystical Northern Lights dancing in the sky.
The Northern Lights
For more information on this enchanting glass castle in the snow, check out this clip from a National Geographic special on the Ice Hotel, or visit their Web site at www.icehotel.com to learn more about this intriguing, one-of-a-kind travel experience.