Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Hotel Made of Ice

I can't believe it's ten years already that they've been building the necessarily short-lived Hotel de Glace (Ice Hotel) up near Quebec City.  Made entirely of snow and ice, this unique, 36-room temporary hotel opens again this year on January 4 until April 4, 2010 when it will, of course, have begun to slowly melt.

Here, from around $189 Cdn. (per person) for the basic one-night Nordic Escape to the more elaborate Polar Getaway package (which starts at almost $800 per person), you can experience an adventure few people have ever had--to spend the night sleeping on ice.

It suddenly occurs to me that many a homeless person having to do just that for the entire winter, not as an 'adventure' but for sheer survival, would probably find this ironic--that someone would actually pay for the experience. 

But you've got to admit, it's an interesting idea.  Introduces people to try 'braving the elements', so to speak.  Each suite in the Ice Hotel offers a unique design. (If you're into sports, there is the Hockey Suite, for example.)

You might like to stop off at the ice cafe or visit the ice bar while you're there (pictured to the right--click to enlarge).  Those icycles on that chandelier look like the ones that hang from my roof all winter long, except these are more sculpted and decorative and, unlike the outdoor slicycles, won't sometimes fall on your head when you walk under them.)

You will be sleeping on a bed made of a solid block of ice on which sits a wooden box frame with a mattress on top.  The mattress is covered with blankets and you'll will be provided an Arctic sleeping bag designed to withstand temperatures of -30 C (-22 Farenheit).  Not to worry, it won't get that cold.  The temperatures inside the Ice Hotel average around -3 to -5 C (about 26F to 23 F, respectively). Perfectly doable.

Don't want to spend the night but curious to see what it looks like inside?  You can come as a visitor for around $16 adult, $12 children--or if applicable, under the family rate (2 adults + 3 children) for $40.

You can even get married at the Ice Hotel!!  Picture being surrounded by white, with crystals made of ice instead of glass.  How cool is that!

The Ice Hotel is located at Station Duchesnay near Lake St. Joseph, a 30-minute drive from Quebec City.  To see more views of the inside of the Ice Hotel, check out Sandra Bellefoy's photo gallery on flickr (click here).

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Quebec's annual Winter Carnival is coming--from January 29 to February 14, 2010.  If you have never been to Quebec City, it's well worth a visit then.  There are wonderful (sometimes huge) ice sculptures all over town, and plenty of activities for one and all, such as sled races and snow rafting and dogsledding.

And for the very brave and thermally ready, the Bay Snow Bath! (Some Quebeckers, of course, are rapidly heading down to Florida or Mexico, as I write, ha ha..  Not everyone likes winter, and where some of us actually welcome snow, there probably are many, many more who just shudder at the thought of five whole months of it, without a break.  By May, I admit, I'm ready to start thinking garden again.)

The other day we drove up to St. Anne-de-la-Parade for a doctor's appointment, through fog as thick as paste, and noticed some men out on the river testing the frozenability of the ice.  It's not yet quite thick enough but in a few weeks will start the big event for which the village is known--the emergence of 200 or so little ice-fishing cabins onto the frozen river (plus a little restaurant).  Click here to see our little ice fishing expedition last January, with photos of our "catch".)

And now, to go out and shovel a path for the cats ....

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