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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Snice and Cool!

Snice.  Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

The love child of snow and ice, "snice" is what holds together an amazing concept in hostelry - the ice hotel.  The destination hotels for spunky travelers looking for only the coolest places, the walls, fixtures, and fittings are held together by snice, which serves as mortar.

Inside the ice hotel at Jukkasjärvi.  Image by Tom Corser via Wikipedia.

Ice hotels are reconstructed each year.  Most construct everything out of ice - furniture, bar glasses, even plates, not to mention sculptures.  Different ice artists may be employed each year, which is fitting.  The very concept grew out of an ice sculpture exhibition.

Main hall at Jukkasjärvi, 2007, sculpture by Jörgen Westin.
Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

The first ice hotel was built in 1990 in Sweden.  The prior year a group of Japanese artists created an exhibit of ice art.  The next year a French artist held an exhibition in an igloo.  When there literally was no room at the inn, visitors asked to sleep in the igloo exhibition hall, which they were allowed to do.  Thus a new idea was born.

The "Banished Dragon" suite at Jukkasjärvi by Valli Schafer & Barra Cassidy, 2008
Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

The ice hotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden is made of ice blocks and snow from the Torne River.  Each year it opens in its first phase at the beginning of December, and each week a new phase opens until the beginning of January when the hotel is completed.  It's a lot of work for a few months of use, but that's part of the charm.

The Nautical Room at the Quebec ice hotel.  Image courtesy Hôtel de Glace, Quebec.

North America's first ice hotel opened New Year's Day in 2001.  Built on the outskirts of Quebec City,  Hôtel de Glace is constructed in Duchesnay Resort. Each year it is built for an early January opening, stays open for three months, then is demolished in April.

Image courtesy of Hôtel de Glace, Quebec.

It takes 60 workers 1-1/2 months to erect it, with 15,000 tons of snow and 500,000 tons of ice.  The walls are four feet thick.  Only the bathrooms are heated, and they are located in a separate insulated structure.  This was the first ice hotel to make beds and other furnishings out of ice.  The hotel has a wedding chapel for any interested parties who want to make their vows in a unique setting.

Tables and chairs made of ice at Lainio Snow Village.  Image courtesy of the site.

Finland has Lainio Snow Village in Lapland.  Construction begins on it the end of October/beginning of November when the temperature drops to -14 degrees F. 330 tons of ice and 1,650 tons of snow are used.  The design changes each year. Besides the ice art, one can sit in the biggest ice dome in Europe, eat at the restaurant, and even spend the night.

A welcoming bed at Lainio Snow Village, image courtesy of the site.

This year is the 10th creation, and it will be open until April 15th.  You can go on a snowmobile safari, a one-day husky safari, or visit a reindeer farm.  Sleeping there is optional, but looks delightful.

There are many ice hotels now, including a few in Norway.  But one that is suprising is in Romania.  Built in 2006, it is in the 
Făgăraş Mountains at an altitude of 2,034 meters.  Because it is so remote, it is accessible only by cable car.  It is next to Bâlea Lake, and usually is built in December and melts in late April/early May. Local artists produce sculptures in the style of Constantin Brancusi, the Romanian artist.

A room at the Lake Bâlea Ice Hotel, image courtesy of the site.

The Lake Bâlea Ice Hotel is Romanian-owned and also has an Ice Church.  There are all kinds of activities offered, including heliskiing for the courageous skiiers. An interesting adventure for those travelers looking for something unusual in a unique setting.
The Ice Church, image courtesy of the site.

By the way, snice is edible.  I'd stay away from yellow snice, though.


  1. I like your blog. The thing about ice hotels in Romania is new to me, and intriguing. The units have gone a bit awry, though: "Built in 2006, it is in the Făgăraş Mountains at an altitude of 2,034 miles." Do you mean metres or feet?

  2. Thanks for catching that, Chris! It should be meters.