Weddings on Ice - The Ice Hotel Quebec, Canada
I recently joined the throngs of international travelers making their way to Quebec Canada, to experience one of the "coolest" hotels in the world. The Ice Hotel (Hotel de Glace) is located 30 minutes west of Quebec City in a literal snow belt. It is situated on the Duchesnay Station Touristique, which is a cross country ski lodge that overlooks the pristine Lac Saint-Joseph.
The Ice Hotel is only one of two ice hotels in the world, and has naturally created quite a sensation among people who are enamored with all of the fun and romance that winter can provide! Not only has the Ice Hotel caught the interest of tourists worldwide, but also the imaginations of brides and their grooms.
Construction of the hotel begins every November by a team of 90 ice architects and artistic sculptors. It is completed and opened to the public with a festive inauguration ball held in their very own N'ice Club and Bar Absolut each January.
15,000 tons of snow and 500 tons of ice are used to create the ice palace, which takes on a different look and theme each year. As a result, no two visits are ever alike. The Hotel is open to the public from January until April for day tours, overnight stays, and yes, weddings and special events.
A maximum of 84 guests can stay at the ice hotel at once, in a total of 34 rooms. Each room is totally unique, and features a different theme. Wall etchings coordinate with the ice sculptures, which may be purely decorative or may serve as a window, table, or chair...or the actual bed. The beds (yes, they are made of ice) are appointed with a layer of wood, a mattress, and deer pelts that insulate the guests from the cold. One room showcases an ice sculpture bed that resembles a Chinese dragon, and the Great Wall of China is carved into the walls around the bed. Another room has a "chill out nook" and a fireplace for ambiance. My favorite room, and the most sensual, is a simple, circular room with a round bed in the center draped with red fabric panels and warm red pin lighting.
Photos by David Seaver
When you arrive at the Ice Hotel, you receive an informative orientation by a fun, larger-than-life guide named Ambrose. He walks you through the dos and don'ts of ice sleeping, so that you are comfortable throughout your stay. The key? Body heat, and staying dry! After the orientation you are assigned your room which is available once the public has left, at 9pm. Guests have the option of getting a back-up room at the neighboring Duchesnay Lodge, which I think is important especially for wedding parties. Your room at the Ice Hotel is not appropriate or available for keeping any personal items. Most likely you will only spend 1 or 2 nights in the Ice Hotel for the experience, and want to stay longer at the lodge so that you can take advantage of all the outdoor activities available.
I highly recommend a four-course, gourmet meal at the Duchesnay Auberge. The dining room is both modern and rustic, very warm and welcoming. The menu is eclectic and delicious. I enjoyed a delightful frois gras appetizer, and feeling adventurous, chose an entree I had never had the opportunity to eat before...venison tartar. Glenn enjoyed a seafood chowder and swordfish. The desserts were equally good. I had a piece of cheesecake made from goat's cheese with a maple crÃƒÂ¨me Anglaise.
Bundle up after dinner and make your way to the Bar Absolut and/or the N'Ice Club for what else....your choice of any Absolut Vodka served in a nice cold, ice glass. Dance the night away in the N'Ice Club, or soak in the outdoor Jacuzzis before retiring to your ice suite and jumping into your sleeping bags for the night. Yes, you do stay warm in your bags as long as you follow the recommended procedures: wear synthetic or wool clothing, make sure your clothes are dry, change your socks just before getting into your bag, wear a hat, and do not overheat as that will make you sweat and ultimately get chilled.
Days are filled with cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, tubing, snow mobiling and dog sledding (which, I might add, is a very romantic wedding transportation option)!
Weddings are an important reason for the success of the Ice Hotel. From the moment it opened six years ago, couples were dazzled by the dramatic, mystical and surreal quality of the hotel. When you walk through the entrance into the grand hall where the ceilings are 18 feet high you are stunned by the way the light plays on the ice. It is like walking into a diamond mine, or a house of glass. You feel as though you have entered another world. In one room you see works of art displayed behind glass and ice, and in another, a series of large ice sculptures created by contestants from around the world.
The wedding ceremony takes place in an actual chapel (for civil or religious ceremonies except Catholic) complete with an ice altar, and pews covered by deer fur. The ice wall behind the altar is etched, and looks like stained glass although the only color is reflected from the flowers on the altar, and the sun shining through the ice. There are candelabras made of ice on the altar, and bear skin rugs on the floor. The bride processes on a red carpet down the aisle either to live music or recorded music that is piped through speakers in the ice. The chapel can accommodate up to 100 seated guests. After the ceremony, guests make their way to the Bar Absolut for cocktails. Receptions can be held in the N'Ice Club, under a tent, or in the Duchesnay Auberge. Champagne is served in ice flutes and dinner is served on ice plates if the reception is held in the Ice Hotel. Fresh flowers are designed to order and hardy enough to withstand the cold temps.Couples can opt to rent gorgeous cold weather wedding attire - what else? - fur!
If you are a couple with a sense of adventure, and truly want a once-in-a-lifetime wedding experience, I highly recommend an Ice Hotel wedding. The staff is young and fun, the destination unique, and the prices affordable.
Hôtel de Glace75, Montée de l'Auberge, Pavillon Ukiuk
Station touristique Duchesnay
Québec Canada G3N 2Y5
Tel. : 418 875-4522
Toll free : 1 877 505-0423 (Canada et États-Unis)
Fax : 418 875-2833