DE GLACE – QUEBEC CITY
A romantic cozy hideway of pure ice? The pale and callow may want to flee the cold of winter from January to March to warmer climes, but those with an all-weather spirit might want to embrace the brisk breath of the winter’s coat of white and glistening ice, especially if you have someone to embrace for body warmth with you. Many may be familiar with the hotel made of ice in Sweden, or the igloo hotels of the Alps (see Zugspitz Igloo Hotel) but North America has its own lodging of pure sculpted ice - the Hotel de Glace, the Ice Hotel of Canada near Quebec City.
Begun in 2001, the Hotel de Glace is constructed from the ground up each year, made entirely of ice and packed snow, formed on stainless steel molds which are removed once the ice is frozen into place with blown snow for cement, using 15,000 tons of snow and 500 tons of ice, with a different design every year, featuring elegant ice carved furniture and colorful light reflections. The hotel has 36 rooms and suites of individual themes, an Ice Bar nightclub, a wedding chapel, hot tubs and sauna garden under the stars. Sleeping in the Hotel de Glace is accomplished in arctic rated sleeping bags on top of mattresses on top of a block of ice.
Fin 2011 the Hotel De Glace ice hotel, the only one in America, moved closer to Quebec City, set on the former site of the Quebec Zoo, (what happened to the zoo is another story) now only a ten minute drive or bus ride from the heart of Quebec's capital. The Hotel de Glace is operated in concert with the Sheraton Four Points Hotel nearby. Arrivals and check-in take place through the Sheraton, where shower and bath amenities are available. Overnight stays at the ice hotel include a cocktail in the Ice Bar, sleeping equipment, access to the hot tubs and sauna garden, a hot morning beverage and breakfast. At an orientation one is told that drinking alcohol lowers the body temperature, but with an ice bar and a long cold night, what’s the point without a drink or two.
Individually themed rooms are designed by submitted contest each year, some have fireplaces, but more for the visual experience, insulated so as not to melt the room around you. Relax in the hot tub until drowsy sleepy time descends, then a very quick dash to the snuggly warmth of the sleeping bag. Tips offered for staying at the Hotel de Glace strongly suggest to bring clothes to sleep in that are a dry change from the clothes worn during the day as dampness can get rather unpleasant through the night. Dress in warm layers - aside from the hot tub, sauna and sleeping bag, the only warmth in the ice hotel is what you’re wearing, though if it gets to be too much, you can escape to the Sheraton Hotel by shuttle where a room is held on reserve just in case. If you get hungry, soups, sandwiches and coffee can be enjoyed in the heated Celsius Pavilion snack corner.
The Hotel de Glace Canada is open from the first weekend of January until the last weekend of March - January 7 to March 27 for 2011. Should the idea of an ice sleep-over be not the stuff of your holiday dreams, regular public tours of the Hotel de Glace are offered from 10am to 9 pm with admission prices of $17 for adults, $15 Students and Seniors, $8.50 for Children (Canadian Dollars). Busses to the Ice Hotel are available from Quebec City. © Bargain Travel West
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