FAIRBANKS, Alaska -- The Aurora Ice Hotel at Chena Hot Springs
Resort, 60 miles north of here, opened New Year's Eve, about a
month later than expected. Eleven guests so far have occupied the
three completed rooms and enjoyed the ice bar; three more rooms and
a gazebo are expected to open by the end of the month. The inside
temperature is 28 degrees.
When the resort decided to build the ice hotel on its property,
it didn't think to file with the state's fire marshal, Gary Powell,
said Brenda Hewitt, the property's vice president of marketing and
That decision put a freeze on the property's plans to open
Thanksgiving weekend. Powell thought the ice structure might be a
"It didn't seem like there'd be anything to burn," Hewitt
And because this ice hotel is the first of its kind in the U.S.,
there wasn't a lot of architectural data to draw from. Requests for
information from Quebec on the ice hotel there went unreturned,
Hewitt said, and even Alaska's governor's office tried (without
much success) to glean information about ice structures in Sweden
Finally, just before Christmas, Hewitt said, the resort was able
to put together enough local expertise on structural engineering,
architecture and ice sculpting to obtain approval to open as an
However, the fire marshal's office still required the hotel to
install smoke detectors and fire extinguishers in each room.
"When we called around, people said, 'We don't have waterproof
smoke detectors,' " Hewitt said. "So we've had to build little
The resort pays agents 10% commission and 20% on groups of 10 or
Everyone who gets an ice hotel room is given winter wear and a
standby heated room in a separate building, just in case.
The resort's two-night package, priced at $878 per couple,
includes one night in the ice hotel, one complementary standby room
and a second night in the guest's choice of the resort's Moose
Lodge or Signature Room. The three-night version, for $1,067, adds
a second night in the Moose Lodge or Signature Room.
For more information, call the Chena Hot Springs Resort at (800)
478-4681 or visit www.chenahotsprings.com.
To contact reporter Rebecca Tobin, send e-mail to [email protected].