We spoke with Andreas, Travel Trade Manager at the ICEHOTEL and got some interesting insight into the ICEHOTEL!
1. How many years have you worked at the ICEHOTEL and how did you get into it?
I'm originally from a small town in the middle of Sweden, and after many fun trips to Australia & Asia I decided that I wanted to learn and become a White Water Rafting guide. My plan was to move to Australia, but for some reason I Googled “white water rafting Sweden”. The first thing that came up was “Nature guide programme” in Kiruna and that included (among other things) a course in WWR. I applied right away and got in.
Jukkasjärvi in Swedish Lapland was the place for the first commercial white water rafting in Europe, but traditions go way back since the Torne River was to only route of transportation until beginning of 1900.
After working in the Swedish mountain as a guide the ICEHOTEL called me and offered me a job as a wilderness guide, that included activities such as Snowmobile tours, skiing, survival course, fishing, climbing, wilderness dinners and White Water Rafting. Off course I jumped for it, wuhu! I've been working for the ICEHOTEL now for 8 years as a wilderness & rafting guide, operational supervisor for activities, safety manager, Experience Designer and now Travel Trade Manager.
2. You used to look after the excursions at ICEHOTEL – what is the most popular summer excursion?
Fishing, white water rafting & hiking. The air and river is so fresh and clean, you can drink from the Torne river straight. Fishes are big and many and when we go on rafting trips we quite often never meet another soul except reindeers and moose. Hiking in this area is spectacular.
Try your hand at white water rafting, or opt for a gentler version instead...
3. And the most popular winter excursion?
Except sauna sessions dogsledding & snowmobiling is very popular. One of my favourite excursions in winter is our “Wilderness Skills” tour where you learn how to survive in Swedish Lapland (Bush craft style). You learn among other thing how make fire with only a knife and flint.
Try your hand at Andreas's favourite excursion – the wilderness skills lesson!
4. The beds in the cold rooms have thick mattresses, rest on wooden bases, are covered in reindeer hide and you sleep in a thermal sleeping bag. But do you recommend bringing bedsocks and warm pyjamas?
We recommend that you go to bed in your PJs or similar, warm socks and a beanie of some kind. You can't have too much clothes on, cause then you will be cold during night. Your body is warming up the sleeping bag, so if you are covered with too much clothes the sleeping bag won’t get warm. We make sure to tell everyone when they are here how to dress for sleeping and activities.
5. What is the most popular drink in the ICEBAR?
Anything with vodka! All the drinks are very good.
6. Alexander Meier The Head Chef at the ICEHOTEL Restaurant is Michelin-trained. What is your favourite of his dishes?
Moose carpaccio and shiitake risotto, the shiitake mushroom is farmed in the local mine.
The food at the ICEHOTEL Restaurant is highly rated – does it take your fancy?
7. What has been your most memorable moment during your time at the ICEHOTEL?
When I met my girlfriend (and now mother of our two children). She also worked at the ICEHOTEL at that time and it just said, klick!
8. Have any famous people stayed at the ICEHOTEL?
Ha ha, YES!
9. What is the most unusual question or request a client has asked during their stay at ICEHOTEL?
"Aren’t you afraid of polar bears?" Yes I am but they live on Svalbard or much further to the north.
"Where is the midnight sun?" We are looking at it.
When can we see the Northern Lights? (asked in July, when we have the midnight sun) From late August to beginning of April
10. And lastly... do the clients embrace the Swedish no clothing tradition in the Sauna?
Yes, if they want to. I always have a towel around my waste when I am having a mix sauna. If I am sitting in the sauna with only men or with my family I sit naked. You should do what you are comfortable with. The most important thing is that you can relax and enjoy a good sauna session. In Sauna Veritas!
As Andreas says, 'in sauna veritas' or, in English, 'in sauna, truth'