2016-17 Ice Hotels and Igloo Villages Are Opening and New Ice Hotel 365 to Be Open Year Round

STORY BY Patrick Thorne 9th December 2016

It’s that time of year when not only does the ski season start in thousands of resorts around the northern hemisphere, but also teams in dozens of destinations build igloos and ice hotels from scratch to offer snow and ice accommodation to intrepid guests all winter.

Ice hotels and igloo villages seem to have some new innovation each winter – always incredible new snow and ice artwork within them each winter, and sometimes innovations like orchestras playing concerts on instruments made of ice, or igloos with hot tubs and saunas in them.

But this year there’s something new in the shape of the first year round Ice Hotel that’s opened in northern Sweden at the home of the original ice hotel (and, just to avoid confusion, they’re building that one again too).  In fact the year round part and the seasonal part that thaws back in to the river each spring, are being treated as one Ice Hotel.

Year Round Ice Hotel Powered By Green Energy

The new Icehotel 365 at Jukkasjärvi in Swedish Lapland is “a year-round ice experience,” with 20 suites, an ice bar that serves champagne and drinks, as well as an ice gallery – all created out of snow and ice by select artists from around the globe. Creations include the  ”Dancers in the dark” suite or a surreal underwater world at the bottom of the sea. It the new hotel walls, floors and ceilings are covered with ice and snow and the temperature is minus five degrees Celsius, year-round, in the new building.

The original seasonal Ice Hotel which is re-opening too, re-built for the 27th time, will open its doors on December 16th.  With 55 rooms it is being created using around 30,000 litres of water from the Torne River, transformed into snow, along with several tons of ice that has been harvested from the river to create both parts of Icehotel. Located on the Torre riverbank guests (Of which there are now 50,00 each year)  sleep in Art and Deluxe Suites made from ice and snow in one of Europe’s last wilderness areas.

(The Great Escape// Deluxe suite design by Marjolein Vonk (NE), Maurizio Perron (IT) pic by Asaf Kliger)

Indeed ice art has always been at the heart of Icehotel. This year the hotel with its 35 unique Art and Deluxe Suites, ice chapel, ice gallery and ice bar will offer more art than ever in the history of Icehotel.

This winter the Michelin trained chef at Icehotel, Alexander Meier, is serving a menu that focus on local produce with a continental twist. Fir sprouts, cloudberries and sea-buckthorn are some of the flavors that the visitors will experience on their dinner plates. The sommelier and Restaurant Manager Sofie Nordefors has chosen suitable and tasty drinks to complement the menu.

The natural environment has always been a key concern at the Ice Hotel which basically thaws away in the spring, leaving no trace, and even the new year-round Ice Hotel stays true to those key principles.

“What’s fascinating is that the sun which melted the art in the past, is essential for making the year-round art experience possible. The art in the permanent part of Icehotel will also change during the year and melt back into Torne River again,” says Arne Bergh, Creative Director at Icehotel.

“The refrigerating plant that makes sure Icehotel 365 is cold during the summer is powered by energy from solar panels and since Jukkasjärvi is situated 200 km north of the Arctic Circle, the sun is shining a 100 consecutive days during the summer months,” says Yngve Bergqvist, founder and initiator of the project.

New Igloo Villages For 2016-17

Meanwhile in the Alps and Pyrenees to the south igloo builders opt for high altitude to make sure they have cold enough conditions for their creations, rather than northerly latitude.

There are igloos to stay in in dozens of resorts but the biggest and best operator is the Swiss-based Iglu Dorf or ‘Igloo Village’ group which runs seven igloo villages in resorts in Germany (Zugspitz), Switzerland (Davos Klosters, Engelberg, Gstaad, Sockhorn and Zermatt) and Andorra (Grandvalira), altogether offering a total of 233 snow beds at its seven locations.

While the smallest igloo village only accommodates 14 people, the largest has space for 50. And because the igloo villages are perfectly integrated into their natural surrounds, guests are often surprised what they discover inside.

“I was utterly fascinated,” said one guest at the igloo village in Zermatt, which opened on 9 December, 2016, “From the outside, only an inconspicuous snowy outline can be discerned, while inside a whole new world awaits. It is simply beautiful!”

Diverse ice art themes

Each igloo village is individually designed by ice artists and transformed into fascinating themed worlds. The igloo village in Davos Klosters invites guests on a road trip. In Engelberg, guests will encounter the element of water in all its facets. Gstaad transports guests to the desert and on the Stockhorn, guests can experience the times of knights and castles.

After setting a world record for building the largest ever igloo, Zermatt impresses with the artistic theme of ‘A world full of miracles’. On the Zugspitze, a richly adorned flower meadow awaits guests and in Andorra, regional artists will put the finishing touches to the igloo village.

The igloo villages in Davos Klosters, Engelberg, Gstaad and Stockhorn will then open on 25 December. The igloo village in Germany is located on the Zugspitze. Its snow beds will be made up from 31 December 2016.

Elephant in the Room by Anna Sofia in the Ice Hotel picture by Asaf Kliger




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