Dueling Ice Hotels

I had a similar idea but for a temporary homeless shelter.

On a recent crisp afternoon, chainsaw-wielding ice sculptors repaired a giant elephant in the bar of Snow Village—home to one of just two ice hotels in North America.

At the other, Hotel de Glace, 160 miles north in Quebec City, crews pushed mini-snow blowers through the hallways, while monitoring a massive ice chandelier hanging in the lobby.

For the past 12 years, Hotel de Glace enjoyed a monopoly in ice tourism on the continent. But this winter, after upstart Snow Village opened its doors, both are scrambling to distinguish themselves in this super-niche market.

Tammy Peddle, a Snow Village spokeswoman, plays down any rivalry. There is "no conflict" between the two, she says in an email. "We have an entire village where you can eat, sleep, visit, play…they have a hotel."

"We are the standard," says Hotel de Glace founder and president Jacques Desbois.

Both tout the uniqueness of spending a night in a cold, dark room entirely made of ice and snow, with no electricity. It is generally not a market with a lot of repeat customers.

"A must do," wrote Martin and Tonia from Spain, in the guest book of the Hotel de Glace. "Once."

"What we’re selling is not accommodation," says Snow Village proprietor Guy Belanger. "It’s an experience."

Magic Igloo MakerBack to my idea.  I was reading about igloo makers and after talking to friends who have gone ice camping and stayed quite warm with just a candle and body heat that guys in the shelter would probably prefer their own igloo to living in a dorm.  I remember joking about the idea with guys in the shelter and as long as we could run extension cords for a television and they had access to showers, they actually thought it was a good idea. 

Of course I was only kidding but they were not, it is one of the reasons why when the weather warms up in spring, why people are moving back out to the encampments along the tracks and along the river.  It isn’t that they want to stay outside it is for them preferable to sleeping in a warm bed but in a congregate setting.

One of the things that I am thrilled that The Lighthouse did is with the new women’s emergency shelter, it is still congregate settings but with three times the space as the old women’s dorm, they are only adding three new beds and using room dividers.  Being homeless is hard enough and in an emergency, there will at least be a nice place to stay.

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