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First Ice Hotel in the United States Opens in December

Unique and Unusual Hotels: Ice Hotels


Normally I complain when the air conditioning is set too high in a hotel room. Considering the room temperature in the newest hotel in Alaska is 28 degrees, I don't think I'd last two hours.

But for souls hardy enough to brave it, the Aurora Ice Hotel at Chena Hot Springs Resort (sixty miles northwest of Fairbanks, Alaska) will be a breathtakingly beautiful, and admittedly cool experience.

The ice hotel, a partnership between hotelier Bernie Karl and award-winning ice sculptor Steve Brice, is built of 14,000 tons of snow and ice, shaped into a main hall covered by Gothic arch with walls six feet thick and six guest rooms. The hotel will be furnished in ice sculptures and fixtures. Ice chandeliers will hang from the ceiling, fitted with fiber optics that give them a prism effect. The lobby will feature ice art including a pipe organ that will actually play music. Even the beds are made of ice.

Room rates start at $878 for a two-night stay and include complimentary survival gear and a backup suite at the traditional resort next door. Included in the price is access to the hot springs.

The Aurora Ice Resort is expected to open in early December and will be the first hotel made entirely of ice in the United States. Visitors who aren't hardy enough to stay overnight can visit the hotel and view the icy art for a $15 day pass. Visitors are also welcome to pull up a bar stool made of ice and drink martinis from an ice glass.

The hotel is expected to remain open year-round with the help of refrigerated pipe interwoven into the walls and a huge "raincoat" to protect the hotel from summer weather.

Update 12/30/03: USA Today interviews the first overnight guest.

Update 12/19/03: The Alaska Fire Marshall has thawed its attitude. After a series of meetings with the hotel's owners and a number of engineers, the Aurora Ice Hotel has been given the go-ahead to resume construction.

Update 11/30/03: Construction on the Aurora Ice Hotel has been indefinitely "frozen" by the Alaska Fire Marshall. According to Associated Press reports, the Fire Marshall's office cited "unspecified building-code and public-safety concerns." The owners of the site are continuing construction of what is now being called the world's largest ice sculpture, but guests will not be allowed to stay overnight. Construction is expected to be complete sometime later this month.

Contact the Aurora Ice Hotel
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