Written by; Joy Smithers / TCCN Staff Writer
Added on: Fri Jan 08 2010
Jacque Dubois has an interesting wintertime ritual. He constructs an entire hotel starting in December, then demolishes it on April 1. He's done it ten times now. With 36 bedrooms, a bar, chapel, ballroom, and meeting rooms, tearing it down is no small feat, even with a bulldozer.
But here's the best part; his hotel is constructed from ice! The aptly named Hotel de Glace.
The 30,000 square foot hotel is located next to Lac St. Joseph north of Quebec City, and this year it features the world's largest igloo as well.
This time the ballroom is an igloo that is just over 12 metres in diameter with a 7.6 metre high ceiling. It will have enormous video screens for watching the SuperBowl and the Vancouver Winter Olympics. It take five weeks to build using 15,000 tons of snow and 500 tons of ice.
Construction takes a crew of 20 and about five weeks. The building blocks (of ice) began arriving in early December, made by a Montreal-based ice maker. Ice blocks form the pillars supporting the dome structure as well as the interior walls, beds, bar, and chapel pews. They didn't feel the need to build a coat room, however.
The ice that decorates the hotel's rooms is carved into artwork by various artists, as is the ice in the public areas of the hotel. If you want to stay there, it will set you back $775 per night. That gets you a bed of ice in a room made of ice. They sell out quickly every year, with guests coming from every part of the world. So far there are 40 weddings booked for this year - a new record.
Construction of the Hotel de Glace starts with pillars of ice blocks supporting a wood and steel frame filled with snow. The snow is compacted and hardened into the ice. Then the frame is taken down and voila: a hotel made only from snow and ice. And animal skins, which are draped over every sitting or lying down surface.
Guests use an Arctic sleeping bag and are provided with a flashlight and map that tells where to find the bathroom - comfortable temporary facilities that are outside the hotel proper.
The corridors are lined with small candles at night, and that is how the rooms are lit as well. Some of the rooms even have fireplaces! But they are equipped with exhaust pipes, which escort any heat generated up and out. The temperature stays at a constant -5 degrees C, which is actually quite warm when compared to the -30 degree weather outdoors.
Like with any grand hotel, there are always a number of events going on at the Hotel de Glace: fashion shows, meetings, movie productions, and even rock concerts. Fun attractions include ice fishing, dogsled rides, cross-country skiing, saunas, snowmobiling and fine dining in a permanent resort restaurant only 200 or so metres away. Helicopter tours of Quebec City are also available from directly from the parking lot.
But as soon as April rolls around, it's time to take the Hotel de Glace down. Mostly it's a safety measure. As temperatures moderate, the structure weakens, and Dubois doesn't want to risk someone sneaking in and having the structure collapse on them. But there's always next year!
If you find yourself in Quebec make sure to stop by this amazing, must see Canadian tradition attraction.
Copyright: 2009 TCCN.ca