Interview with the founder of ICEHOTEL – Yngve Bergqvist

Yngve Bergqvist got the idea for ICEHOTEL 27 years ago. Now it’s time to make his next dream a reality: ICEHOTEL 365 – a year-round experience made of ice, by the river in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden. He presents his thoughts.

How will it be constructed?

– We’re building a structure with a green roof, covering it with Arctic mountain flowers and grass varieties. The green roof covers metal sheets, protecting the building insulation which is designed to keep the cold air in. The arched inner ceiling has a built-in chilling tubes holding a temperature of -5 C. The inner walls are then covered in snow. The whole structure is held up by pillars, but the walls of the rooms are made from snow. We’re just finished producing the 1000 m3 of snice that we estimate we’ll need for walls and ceiling and this is kept in our ice storage until we’re ready to start the interior work in ICEHOTEL 365, around 15 September. Like always, ice is the central element and will adorn ICEHOTEL 365 in the form of  decorative objects, pillars and sculptures. 25 artists and architects will be commissioned to start working on decorating the suites, bar and gallery, starting mid-October.

How will it be run?

– We’ll operate in the same way we’ve operated winter seasons for over twenty-five years, the difference being we renew design in the summer months. We completed a renovation of the ice storage in 2015 and have capacity to store ice and snow blocks to use  and create a genuine environment across all seasons.

What will it look like?

– The visitor will experience ICEHOTEL 365 as he or she experiences our hotel in the winter. The difference is an indoor temperature of -5 C during summer and fall months.

And is this really environmentally sustainable?

– We estimate that by using solar panels and harnessing the near constant daylight of the summer months, ICEHOTEL will reduce its overall energy requirements. We will produce around 75 kW between April and September, leaving an energy surplus that we can utilize to run existing buildings such as restaurant, offices and warm guest rooms.

What does it mean for the ”winter” hotel?

– With ICEHOTEL 365, we will have 20 art rooms available any day of the year, while we expand the art experience in winter with another 20 ice rooms and 15 winter suites. Allowing the same winter capacity as in recent years, this means we build a smaller winter structure that can be finished and opened earlier in December. There will be in total 35 art rooms and a large ice gallery next winter.

Why are you doing it?

– We’re doing it to make the ice experience available all year. We have guests from all over the world who asks if you can visit ICEHOTEL in summer and fall and this project is the result of catering to that demand. With research indicating winters are going to be shorter in the future, we want to create a product that is sustainable environmentally!

Do you expect a drop in demand during winter as a result?

– No. I’m convinced this will overall increase the quality of the experience and we only have capacity to cater to a very small share of the global tourist market. The world is a big place and many guests aren’t willing or able to come during our winter months. I think this will increase awareness of ICEHOTEL and overall generate a greater interest in visiting ICEHOTEL – in all seasons.

So what will summer visitors do during their visit?

– The ice experience is of course the focus of their holiday, with ice sculpting classes and a champagne ice bar offering cool drinks “in” the rocks. There is also the midnight sun and you can actually experience the northern lights from as early as September. River rafting tours along the Torne river and superb fishing, as well as cultural Sámi experiences are just some of the activities we’ll be offering in these seasons.

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