Imagine a vacation escape to a magical castle-like hotel, complete with hot tub, spa massages, a vodka bar, and stunning, one-of-a-kind crystalline sculptures in each dazzling suite. Thirty-six guest suites and rooms are available, with 18-foot ceilings in each room.
Where is this amazing, gorgeous palace, you ask? Italy? France? The Swiss Alps? Nope. The spectacular Ice Hotel is located in Quebec, just a short trip from home if you're from the United States.
The Ice Hotel in Quebec was started in 1996 by Jacques Desbois, who had seen Sweden's impressive version and though it would be perfect for Quebec.
Each year in about mid-December, construction of the Ice Hotel begins. Steel and wood wall and beam molds form a skeleton of the building, then ice and snow are blown in, and the wood and steel are removed. The result is an elaborate building made completely out of ice.
Local sculptors and artists pitch in, creating strikingly beautiful ice sculptures and archways. The hotel hosts the annual Arts of Winter festival, in which various artists collaborate in three different categories: interior ice architectural design, ice sculpting, and ice painting. The results are displayed in two art galleries housed within the hotel. The architectural portion of the festival is to design one of the suites, and thus special guests can stay in a suite that is literally a work of art. The hotel also boasts the Absolut 'ice bar', where cocktails are served in crystal ice glasses.
But, you ask, isn't staying in an ice hotel going to be―cold? The short answer: yes! It is, after all, Canada in the middle of winter. But guests with a festive spirit don't mind. The hotel offers each guest warm animal pelts on the padded ice beds, and thermal sleeping bags. The website brags of toasty indoor temperatures that hover around 26 degrees, 'even though it is cold outside'.
The appeal of staying at a hotel made of ice attracts a lot of visitors, many from locations that stay warm most of the year. What could be more exotic for folks who have already done the 'warm' vacation?
There are many wintry activities offered in the nearby area, and packages can be found for cross-country skiing, snow-shoeing, ice-fishing, dog-sledding, and the like. In addition, for visitors who become too chilled, there is a nearby sister hotel, the l'Auberge Duchesnay, which holds rooms for those who feel too cold to stay the entire night at the Ice Hotel. For those who just want to visit but not stay, tours go through the hotel daily, for reasonable rates.
Corporate event organizers love the Ice Hotel, which offers many different company packages, like office parties, conferences, and unique team building events. But perhaps the biggest draw to the Ice Hotel is its fairytale wedding packages. The hotel has a chapel on the property, gorgeously sculpted entirely from ice, complete with an ice-chiseled altar and icicle chandelier. Wedding planners are available through the hotel's website to help create a once-in-a-lifetime wedding. The magical snowy scene is ideal for making the special day all the more memorable.
If you're looking for something really different to do on your next getaway, think outside the box and plan to visit the truly unusual Ice Hotel in Quebec!