Night at the Ice Hotel (continued)

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Quebec City

How Did We Sleep?

How did we sleep in the Ice Hotel? Well, not so well. The sleeping bags did a great job of keeping us warm. Inside my sleeping bag, I wore thermal underwear, my pajamas, and that pair of socks I had to retrieve from the locker. I wore a fleece hood to keep my head warm but my face was exposed. This caused my nose to get cold. I tried covering it with the lining of the sleeping bag but as I drifted off to sleep, the lining slipped down and once again my nose got cold. Consequently, I would wake up.

Traci had a different issue. She did not experience any cold. In fact, I still remember the gush of warm air that escaped when I helped her out of her sleeping bag the next morning. The thing that affected Traci's sleep in the Ice Hotel was her sleeping position. She normally sleeps on her stomach but the cocoon-like sleeping bag was not conducive for sleeping in that manner.

Throughout the night, each of us would drift off for what seemed like 5 minutes and then would awaken. Around 4 AM, Traci took out her iPhone which she was keeping warm inside her sleeping bag and started up one of her music playlists in an attempt to get some quality sleep. That did not help either. Finally, around 6 AM, we looked at each other and Traci asked, "Are you ready?" to which I replied, "Yep. Let's get outta here."

We put on our jackets, boots, and gloves and crunched across the snow to the Celsius Pavilion. Sleeping bags are left behind in the suites. The staff collects them later to be laundered before the arrival of the next set of overnight guests.

Back at the pavilion, we were not the only guests getting an early start to the day. People were retrieving their belongings from the lockers. As I was going to the front desk to get my locker key, I saw a lady who must have given up on her room inside the Ice Hotel. She was sound asleep on one of the couches in the lobby.

Traci and I caught the shuttle back to the Sheraton to shower, get changed, and enjoy our complimentary breakfast at Le Dijon. I was really pleased with the meals we had there.

"Wake up, Traci. We survived!"

hearty breakfast at Le Dijon

V.I.P. Tour

We took the shuttle back to Hotel de Glace for our 9:30 AM V.I.P. Behind-the-Scenes tour. This tour took us to areas of the Ice Hotel that are normally off-limits to visitors. This was one of the highlights of our visit to the Ice Hotel. Traci and I, along with a couple from Toronto, donned hard hats and reflective vests as we followed Pierre, our outstanding tour guide, for the next hour. He gave us a tour similar to the one given to National Geographic when they did an article on Hotel de Glace.

The construction of Hotel de Glace takes several weeks to complete. Construction does not begin until they've had at least three consecutive days of 23F. This presented a problem for the opening of the 2012 season because the weather in November and December 2011 was so mild. Construction had to be delayed. As a result, the January 6, 2012 Grand Opening had to be postponed to January 20, 2012. Our visit occurred January 12 - 13. This had both advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, during our visit, there were some sections that were still under construction. We would have liked to have slid down the ice slide but we were two days too early. The hotel was to debut their ice skating rink in the 2012 season but it wasn't finished yet. On the other hand, the fact that the hotel was still under construction gave us a unique opportunity to witness the construction techniques and meet the artists. We had to be careful as we were led around the premises because tractors and other heavy machinery were moving all around us. We saw the large metal frames used to create the rooms. Snow is blown over these frames and left to harden for three days. After three days, the metal frame is removed and the artists go to work. These artists are some of the most skilled ice sculptors in the world. One year, they even had the set designer from the Harry Potter movies creating a themed suite at Hotel de Glace. It was amazing to watch the attention to detail each worker gives to the project. They were putting in very long hours under unusual working conditions to meet the January 20th Grand Opening deadline. Work on the hotel was occurring around the clock when we were there. I remember complimenting one of the artists on the masterpiece he was carving into one of the walls. As he turned towards me to say thank you, I noticed he had icicles hanging from his mustache!

V.I.P. Tour

ready for the V.I.P. tour

 

a company in Montreal creates these ultra-pure ice blocks

 

Snow is blown over frames like this and left to harden for 3 days before removal.

100k+ ice glasses are made per season for the ice bar.

artist at work

We learned so many interesting facts from that tour. We learned about how the ice glasses are made from ultra-purified water to keep our mouths from sticking to them when we drink. We learned about the special water-proof wiring that is run to provide the hotel with electricity. I don't remember this V.I.P. tour being mentioned as part of our Adventure Package when we booked but I was so glad we had the opportunity to do it. continue...

 

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