Take your senses for an icy retreat and let them be assaulted by the unique luxury that Icehotel has to offer. You may not be able to come here after all!
By: Aparupa Ray Ganguly, Hospitality Communications Professional
Posted on: September 28, 2012
Take your senses for an icy retreat and let them be assaulted by the unique luxury that the Icehotel has to offer. You may not be able to come here again after all!
I would have never imagined, even in my wildest dreams, that I would leave my footprints in the North Pole. For years, I secretly nurtured one of my wildest, outlandish travel fetishes of setting foot onto the Swedish Lapland and the icy grounds of the Tundra.
And so I did! It’s only years later, when I read ‘The Secret’ by Rhonda Byrne, did I realize that when you truly, deeply long for something or somewhere, the universe actually conspires to let things fall in place and make it happen. And my earlier assignment as an Indian Marketing representative for SAS airlines was what made this trip happen. After a successful launch, the SAS team decided to take us (the core team which burnt the midnight oil to make the launch a success) to Sweden. What came as a surprise was the last part of the trip - a two day getaway to Jukkasjärvi in the Swedish Lapland and a stay at the famous Icehotel!
In a tearing hurry
After a short one hour flight from Sweden, we landed in a shack-style airport. As we stepped out, we were hurriedly ushered into a changing room where we were instructed on how to get into our body suits, head gear and a pair of mighty heavy boots to brave the cold. My heart almost skipped a beat when I was all equipped and stepped out to witness the largest congregation of Huskies!
And I knew what was to follow. The ride to the Icehotel from the Kiruna airport was almost a two hour run on the sled! Four of us hefty Indians were to be dragged by eight powerful huskies. Super-charged, energetic and hyper, the huskies just waited for their command to run. And they ran like the wind, racing through the frozen landscape! Extremely people-friendly and high on adrenalin, I was told, they did this to and fro trip almost thrice everyday. A high protein meat diet is what kept them going. The child in me was thrilled!
As we commenced our debut sled journey, the wind chill factor dropped by several degrees. We encountered a mild, unnerving blizzard on our way. The icy wind tore our faces, but I thought to myself, “It’s now or never. This experience is truly worth its while and I may never get the chance to be here and do this again!" The blizzard eventually spared us as our heroes kept running. They knew their way, they knew their job. Their spirit was commendable. The courage, the undying faith of not giving up is something I learnt from them and I always remember. The huskies taught me not to give up in adversity, to keep going on and to believe that there is always a bright, sunny day after every blizzard.
En-route, we took a short break to have lunch in a tiny, wooden hut. The imposing frozen landscape all around left an enchanting impression on my mind. The burning embers inside the hut kept us warm as we were served a traditional Lapland delicacy of warm Reindeer stew along with hot Lingonberry juice and a Pita kind of bread with generous amounts of cream cheese. It was such a comforting meal!
After almost two and a half hours, we reached the Icehotel, a tad tired, having braved the chill during the ride on the sled. Next was a show around of the hotel, its carved suites which came with distinctly original themes, created by ice-sculptors of world repute. Each of the rooms had something quirky about them. Ice beds with a reindeer skin on top, arm-chairs and study tables in the most elaborate designs, and intricately designed walls and ceilings carved in ice - I was awestruck!
Each year, the Icehotel melts in summer, and huge blocks of ice are collected from the frozen Torne River and stored, till the construction begins around autumn. World-class ice sculptors from across the globe are garnered to unleash their creative spirit and create master pieces in ice. It is truly an art endeavor.
We freshened up and then headed straight to the Ice Bar (in the hotel), for a much needed power potion of Absolut Vodka, and a never-before icy bar experience! So there I was, 200 kilometers north of Arctic Circle, standing in the world famous Ice Bar, downing power potions of vodka in shot glasses made of ice. I didn’t know what was hitting me! A dance floor made of ice stared at me but all I knew was a tired body in need of total awakening!
Magic in the sky
The Icehotel experience still had more in store. We wound up the evening with a rather elaborate, four course formal sit-down dinner. Everyone retired to their respective suites but I chose to sleep in one of the warm, wooden huts which came equipped with glass ceilings looking out straight into the brilliant night sky. I slipped into my bed and sunk my head in the perfect feather pillow, gazing at the sky above me. And soon enough, I was witnessing the mysterious ‘aurora borealis’ or the Northern Lights! A clear night sky with swirling ribbons of a magical bluish green light illuminated the horizon, making for the most stunning sight to behold. Staring out of my window, I saw the landscape, wrapped in virgin, white snow, dancing symphonically under a glittering midnight ballet.
Formal sit-downs gave way to a happy, sumptuous breakfast the next morning. It was our last day at the iconic Ice Hotel, before we headed back to Stockholm. With a few hours in hand, we decided to get on with the last leg of adventure and signed up for a snow mobile expedition. Exhilarating and super-fun, we experienced a huge rush of adrenalin and competitive spirit as we raced and jumped across the length and breadth of the frozen land. With sparse vegetation, the naked snow covered expanse made for a breathtaking sight. The occasional sighting of a Reindeer was a reckoning of the stark beauty of the Arctic Circle.
It was time to say goodbye and as we hopped into our car, I popped my head out to soak in the air and take one last look at what I was leaving behind. I was sad to leave, but happy to have been there, and carried so many unforgettable experiences to share with everyone.
I may never make it back to the Icehotel, but hopefully this story will inspire many to visit it, at least once in this lifetime.
A seasoned hospitality communication professional having experience with brands like The Imperial New Delhi, The Park Hotel and others, Aparupa comes with an unquenchable thirst for travel. She believes creativity is the ability to imagine something that never existed and travel fuels creativity. Eclectic and personalised, her frequent sojourns have spurned travelogues that are fresh and inspiring with a poetic narrative. Follow her on lovemy30s.wordpress.com