What’s your idea of a great vacation destination? Exploring the Mayan ruins? Swimming with stingrays in the Cayman Islands? Or perhaps doing a bit of skiing in Vale, Colorado? Consider visiting an engineering marvel, a hotel that is built anew each year. Yes, you read that right. This hotel is demolished and reconstructed year after year so it’s never the same place twice. I’m talking about Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden.
Not only is Ice Hotel an engineering marvel it is completely recycled each year. Blocks of frozen river ice from Lake Torne are cut and stored in an icehouse for the upcoming season. Each year the hotel is built on the riverbank and in the spring the ice melts, returning to the river.
Construction starts in November and is completed two months later and is completely dependant on the weather temperatures. Metal forms fitted with skis are re-used each year to create the rooms with in the hotel. With the aid of snow machines, the forms are covered with a layer of what the engineers call ‘snice’. Snice is the perfect building consistency of snow and ice. When the snice layer reaches the proper thickness, it will have the strength of concrete. The forms will be pulled out revealing this season’s rooms. In 2004 Ice Hotel covered an area the size of two football fields, the lobby was 15’ high by 18’ wide and included a replica of Shakespeare’s Globe Theater.
Ice artists from around the world decorate the guest rooms and suites making each one unique. The ice artists have the challenge of calculating exactly how much ice they will need to create all the furniture for each room because once the room is complete no more ice can be added. Everything – beds, tables, desks, and chairs even artwork, chandeliers, columns and the bar glassware is made of ice. Fully wired with fiber optic and diode lighting the hotel glows with a cool blue green light.
Upon completion the hotel will have a full lobby, bar, theater, more than 60 guest rooms, several guest suites and at least one luxury suite. The entire hotel is a work of art and during the day all rooms, including the guest rooms and suits are open for all to tour and enjoy. Late in the afternoon the hotel closes to the public and guests staying the night have access to their rooms. Guests will sleep on beds covered in reindeer skins in sleeping bags. More than 100 guests come to the hotel to be married each year!
Words cannot describe the beauty of this extreme engineering marvel. Imagine arriving by dog sled, touring an amazing international art exhibit, dinner, drinks and a show and capping off the evening with a peaceful sleep in solitude.
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