Images by Renaud Philippe, unless otherwise attributed.
Each winter for the past 15 years, Hôtel de Glace has opened in Quebec. This hotel, bar and wedding venue complex is built entirely of ice and blends into the gorgeous Canadian winterscape of snow and wintry crystals. Residents and visitors alike await each year’s grand opening in January for the three-month experience unique within North America.
This year’s launch schedule was a nail biter, with a late start to winter delaying much of the weather-dependent construction. Mother Nature was a little uncooperative at first, but despite unusually difficult conditions, the scheduled opening of January 4, 2016 did occur – to rave reviews.
This year’s theme is “Rivers.” For Pierre L’Heureux, artistic director of the Hôtel de Glace, this dedication lends itself to a multitude of interpretations. “From frozen glaciers to rivers flowing underground, visitors are free to explore the banks and meandering of rivers that capture the imagination. Man and water join forces to take you on a voyage along imaginary rivers through a world of ice and snow, as you experience the Hôtel de Glace as a River,” l’Heureux explained.
Throughout the Hotel de Glace, carvings into frozen walls depict scenes of river adventure, culture and underwater wildlife. In the Ice Bar, ceilings and walls provide a river bottom experience with big fish swimming past through their likenesses etched all around those enjoying iced beverages, engaging conversations and fireplace heat.
The entire facility’s architecture was redesigned for 2016, for a more enriching guest experience and a higher level of intimacy for weddings. The wedding chapel was detached from the main structure of the hotel and bars this year, creating a more private wonderland venue for snow and ice-crystal infused nuptials. Beyond its popular hotel and bars, the ice complex includes a sweets shop called the Sugar Shack, gift boutique, a grand ice slide for a bit of slippery fun, chapel, Arctic Spa and Sauna, Celsius Cafe for delightful cuisine, locker rooms and an outdoor snowshoe trail.
A sports bar was added to the venue’s highly acclaimed nightclub Ice Bar, so hockey enthusiasts can enjoy sponsor Heineken’s beverages while engaging in ice games and big-screen sports television. In both beverage venues, visitors drink from ice-crafted “glassware” and sit upon ice stools and seats. A night spent dancing to the D.J.’s tunes is unlike any dance club in Canada or the United States.
Each year, the hotel and wedding destination seems to break its own records – just as it did in 2015. “Things are looking good! Overnight stays are up, we have close to twenty confirmed bookings for weddings, our website traffic is constantly growing and foreign media coverage is also steadily on the rise. We’re excited about picking up where we left off with an all-new sensorial experience that promises to be fun, unique and enriching,” said Hôtel de Glace CEO Jacques Desbois.
Guided tours are available for those unable to stay overnight in the hotel’s 44 themed rooms and suites before it closes for the year on March 28. For more information on all Hôtel de Glace activities go to www.hoteldeglace-canada.com. Our only recommendations to make the Hotel de Glace experience one of your best? Those are to dress warmly, imbibe a little and do not touch your tongue to any metal surfaces.
Check out more of the hotel, cafe, chapel and bars through the gallery below.