Thanks to Jacques Desbois’ vision and genius idea in 2001, the Quebec Hotel de Glace (Ice Hotel) has become one of the most successful winter tourist attractions in Quebec. Nicknamed Mr. Igloo, Desbois has always been fascinated by the winter experience. His company, La Piste Desbois was engaged in the construction of igloo villages, participating in Quebec Winter Carnival, la Fete des Neiges in Montreal and the Musée de la Civiliisation. It was a natural progression for him to build an ice hotel, following the model of the Swedish Ice Hotel, but with Quebec’s unique interpretation.
Desbois overcame many challenges when he first decided to create the Hotel de Glace. His search for investors and partners took until October of 2000, leaving only three months to build the structure, the hotel and still be ready to launch in January 2001. The second challenge was to find a strategic location close to a water source with the maximum public relations exposure of a large city, so he first chose Montmorency Falls, just outside Quebec City.
The following year, however, Desbois wanted to further allow expansion efforts, so he rebuilt the Hotel de Glace at the Duchesnay Ski Resort with a resort and variety of winter activities already established. This site continued successfully for the next 10 years, adding different features from year to year to keep people coming back.
Last year, a strategic decision was made to move the Ice Hotel closer to Quebec City to enable its participation in the Quebec Winter Carnival activities. Thanks to this decision, the Hotel de Glace saw a 26% increase in visitors, welcoming its 30,000th overnight guest and its 600,000th visitor. The Quebec Hotel de Glace is now outpacing the number of visitors of the original Ice Hotel in Jukkasjarvi, Sweden, significantly.
With the new location also came some added amenities. The entrance pavilion and boutique has almost tripled its surface, and a new Celsius pavilion with restaurant and private salon for overnight guests enhances the quality of the experience.
New in 2012
This year, the Hotel de Glace is teaming up with the First Nations to educate visitors about their important influence in areas such as Northern Quebec, where they have been living for millennia. This season, three weekends will be dedicated to demonstrations and activities by Inuits, Cris, Innus and Wendats including game tasting, artistic performances and native camps.
A 40-ft outdoor ice rink has also been constructed for families to enjoy, as well as the longest covered slide made completely of ice and snow. Special family packages and pricing will also be available during the week of Winter Break.
Desbois’ success is not only attributed to his unique vision of the Hotel de Glace, but his acumen as an entrepreneur. Winning the personality of the year in the province of Quebec, as well as Best Tourism Attraction, 100,000 Visitors or Less for five years running, his accolades read more like an academy award than a tourism professional!
This year’s hotel will stay open until March 25, 2012.