If I want to visit Death Valley in the summer I should also visit this Ice Hotel in Quebec City, Canada!
A night on ice in Quebec City
Special to the Tribune
December 27, 2009
Imagine spending the night in a hotel built entirely of ice and snow, dancing in an Ice Bar and sipping a cocktail from a glass made of ice. Then, zip up in an arctic sleeping bag with a fur blanket and drift off to sleep. All that is possible every January as the Hotel de Glace in Quebec City reinvents itself once again.
"I was prepared for it to be brutally cold," said Beth Blair of Minneapolis. "But after dancing and spending a few minutes in the sauna, my body was warm, and that warmth stayed with me in the sleeping bag."
With 36 unique rooms and theme suites, Hotel de Glace, also known as the Ice Hotel, draws its inspiration from the Inuit igloos as well as childhood forts of long ago. Constructed of more than 15,000 tons of snow and ice, this "igloo" has an Ice Bar, Ice Cafe, Ice Chapel, Grande Ice Slide and even an outdoor hot tub and sauna.
The only ice hotel in North America (the original is in Jukkasjarvi, Sweden), the arctic structure has hosted more than a half-million visitors since it opened in 2000. Towering archways, crystal ice sculptures and fur-topped ice furniture greet visitors, while ice candelabra, art etched onto the walls and softly colored lights add a warm glow.
Serge Peloquin, who has created the Ice Hotel since its inception, started designing this year's hotel in September, and he said it takes six weeks to complete. His inspiration lies in the natural beauty of ice, water and snow, which are constantly changing to become "the art of the moment," he said.
This year's theme is Nordicity, which "honors our Nordic roots," said Peloquin.
New for 2010 is a multimedia igloo that holds demonstrations and exhibitions. Here, visitors can learn more about the Inuit techniques used to build the Ice Hotel.
"My big igloo," says Peloquin, "is a grandiose piece of art we can live in."
The Ice Hotel, which can accommodate up to 88 guests each night, will be open from Jan. 4 to April 4.
Before they arrive, visitors are instructed on how to prepare for the adventure. The guide instructs: "Layer with wool and synthetic materials, not cotton, and be sure to pack hats, gloves, boots and extra socks. You won't be sleeping on just a block of ice. The bed is topped with a solid wood box frame, thick foam mattress and covered by a fleece sheet."
Before tucking in for the night, overnight guests leave their belongings up the road in the lodge Auberge Duchesnay, where hearty meals are also served.
"I sipped a vodka cranberry cocktail in a delightful ice cube glass," said Diana Rowe of Denver. "Then I zipped myself into the super-insulated sleeping bag that could withstand sub-zero temperatures. At times I was comfortable, although not toasty warm. All I can say is, ‘I did it,' and it was indeed a winter adventure."
Those a little less adventurous are welcome to tour the hotel until the early evening or relax in the Ice Bar until midnight.
For Seattle guest Patrice Raplee, the Ice Hotel was the quietest hotel room she ever stayed in: "It was silent, peaceful and just magical." firstname.lastname@example.org
If you go
Getting there: Fly from Chicago to Quebec City, fly to Montreal and make the three-hour drive, or take a romantic train ride, vacationsbyrail.com.
Special packages: The Icy and Urban Adventure includes admission/overnight stay at the Hotel de Glace, dinner and full breakfast buffet at Auberge Duchesnay, one activity, plus another night in Quebec City, starting at $570 per person. The Polar Getaway offers admission/two nights at the Auberge Duchesnay, two breakfasts/dinners and two activities, starting at $750 per person. 877-505-0423; hoteldeglace-canada.com
In the vicinity: Hotel de Glace is a part of Quebec City's annual Winter Carnival, the largest winter celebration in the world, with dogsled races, snow rafting, snow sculpture competitions and more. 866-422-7628; carnaval.qc.ca