Ice hotel succumbs to Interior sun

Posted: Friday, June 04, 2004

FAIRBANKS - The frozen martini glasses are disappearing, ice chandeliers are falling from the ceiling and the walls of the Aurora Ice Hotel are shrinking.

Sunshine and high temperatures have assaulted the ice hotel at Chena Hot Springs Resort since March, causing enough melting to persuade owners to abandon plans for keeping the building through summer months.

Workers Wednesday removed foam panels designed to keep the ice hotel cool. They will let months of planning and creative carving melt in the June sun.

Resort owner Bernie Karl and ice carver Steve Brice finished the structure in late December and had hoped to keep the hotel open throughout the summer by using the foam panels and thousands of feet of hose pumping coolant through the ice walls. The creators, however, underestimated the power of Fairbanks spring sunshine, said spokeswoman Brenda Hewitt.

Hewitt said the resort stopped accepting guests for ice hotel rooms at the end of March and planned to use April as a testing period for how well the structure could hold up in warmer weather.

By the end of May, it became clear that the hotel could not be saved. People entering the building now wear hard hats because pieces of ice chandeliers are falling, Hewitt said.

News of the melting disappointed several tourists and organizations with plans for a visit to the United States' only ice hotel, which featured a bar with martini and shot glasses made of ice as well as ice beds in the rooms.

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