Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Ice Hotel - its just so cool!!!

Imagine a hotel built from thousands of tons of snow and ice, and re-built every winter- that is Icehotel in Northern Lapland, Sweden.

The main entrance to the Hotel

ICEHOTEL is situated in the village Jukkasjärvi, 200 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle in Sweden. The heart and backbone is the River Torne flowing freely through the unspoilt wilderness. Covered with a meter thick ice layer winter time the river is the source of all our art, architecture and design. The pure water and the steady movement of the river creates the clearest ice possible.

A Reindeer skin bed in the hotel

In Icehotel there are double rooms and suites for overnight guests, a lobby, a pillar hall, film auditorium and of course the famous Absolut Icebar - where folk from all over the world socialize till late.

In the Absolut Ice Bar, drinks are served in glasses made of solid ice

In November, the work starts on building the unique Icehotel and the official opening is in mid December.
By the time the spring sunshine has done its work and the Icehotel has slowly but surely made way for summer and has run back into the River Torne, May has arrived. At the end of April or the beginning of May, the Icehotel closes for the season - all depending on the weather gods however.

High Noon in the Arctic Circle

Staying at ICEHOTEL is a must for the modern adventurer - an experience utterly unlike any other hotel stay. Whilst the temperature outside varies from -10°C down to -40°C inside the Icehotel the bar and bedrooms maintain a "comfortable" -5°C.
The hotel has been built to a different design each year since 1990.
Most people spend one night in the Icehotel itself and a couple of nights in a bungalow. Some bungalows have two twin bunk rooms, others are equipped with a double bed and a large skylight for watching the northern lights (aurora borealis).

I'm planning to visit the hotel in February, inshallah.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Cartier Polo World Cup on Snow - St. Moritz, Switzerland

The Cartier Polo World Cup on Snow will be taking place for the 23rd time next January bringing together professional Polo players and a host of distinguished guests (a host of distinguished guests – oxymoronic or wot?? ) in one of the most breathtaking Alpine settings of them all. Since 1985, when the idea to play polo on the frozen St. Moritz Lake celebrated its world premiere, the Cartier Polo World Cup on Snow has become an indispensible event on the Engadine calendar. At one time considered an extravagant curiosity, this polo tournament has come to accentuate the exquisite image of St. Moritz, and proven itself ideally suited to the chic elegance and high class ambiance to be found in the local legendary "champagne climate". The organizers have certainly succeeded once again to secure exciting participants for this mega event, Cartier Polo World Cup on Snow. The teams from classic polo nations such as Argentina and England promise a spectacular match in the midst of an idyllic, snowcovered alpine setting - certainly the "Top of the World"...

Welcome to the most exciting and unique Cartier Polo World Cup on Snow, which just spells glamour and fun on the frozen Lake of St. Moritz, where the sun never ceases to shine.

The first Polo field in St Moritz was laid out back in 1899, when members of an English Cavalry unit played the game as a part of their military training as well as a way of passing the time. This made St Moritz one of the cradles of the game in Continental Europe. In 1985, Polo celebrated its world premiere on snow and the cornerstone for a new highlight in the St Moritz events calendar was laid. The tournament fits in perfectly with the town’s tourist-related marketing concept. Since then, a number of wintertime tournaments have been established but St Moritz remains the only one played on a frozen lake.

Be there as the wiry, nimble polo ponies fly over the snow. Watch as the world's top polo players from Argentina, Chile, the UK, Australia and other countries give of their best. For the four days of the tournament, there are two top-quality matches daily, culminating in the grand finale on Sunday. These high-level encounters require the highest concentration, strength, finesse, courage and endurance – both from the ponies and their riders. The special conditions on snow, and the unaccustomed altitude of 1800 metres, place exceptional demands on man and animal alike.And as you would expect in the exhilarating surroundings of St Moritz, the world of Polo dovetails perfectly with the cosmopolitan atmosphere that prevails there throughout the winter season.
People meet up for a glass of champagne and elegant dining in the VIP marquee, to go shopping in town, and in the evening to attned one of the countless gala events and parties. When night falls and the lights are lit, guests celebrate the joy of catching up with old- and making new- acquaintances in the town’s superb hotels and restaurants. Whether it’s a club evening in the Chesa Veglia (the town’s oldest house), a glittering gala evening at Badrutt’s Palace Hotel, or a cosy dinner with a small, select of friends, the experience offered by St Moritz while the tournament is on is second to none.

The 23rd Cartier Polo World Cup on Snow will be held in St. Moritz from 25th to 28th January, 2007. We’ll be there to cover the event and will be posting here, live.

St Moritz is nearly 1800 metres up Switzerland's Engadine Valley attracts over 320,000 visitors a year. The place was fairly quiet until the English arrived in 1864 introducing the bob sleigh and cricket on ice. St Moritz is said to be the most famous ski resort in the world, yet half of its visitors don't even ski.

Badrutt's Palace is the most exclusive hotel in St Moritz, which boasts Charlie Chaplin, Sylvester Stallone and Claudia Schiffer amongst its clientele. The hotel is also only 10 minutes from the piste. You can take a helicopter ride from St Moritz-Bad to the top of Forkla Grischa, which takes just 4 minutes. Each trip costs approximately US$ 100 and operates on a request-only basis, bookable through your hotel.
St Moritz also offers alternatives to skiing, such as paragliding at around US$ 200 and runs from the Corvillia ski station to the frozen lake adjoining the town. Torchlight skiing is also available on request from the ski school at US$80 per person.
St. Moritz doesn't have the wild après-ski that you might find in St. Anton or Val d'Isère. What it does have are 50 restaurants, 20 bars and the odd night club to choose from. A table at the Kings Club, in the basement of the Palace costs over US$ 400. Cocktails here are $ 30.


Winter Wonders

1. Stay at the Kulm Hotel (+41-81-836-8000; doubles from about $410) and spend the afternoon at the skating rink.
2. Ski Corviglia and stop for toast Madagascar (steak on bread) at Restaurant Trutz (by the Suvretta chairlift; +41-81-833-7030; entrees $6 to $22).
3. At Dolce Vita, dig into the excellent penne all’arrabbiata, made with speck and sirloin (via Maistra 10; +41-81-833-1749; entrees $10 to $35).
4. Walk to Pontresina and have tiramisù at Cafe Puntschella (via Mulin; +41-81-838-8030).
5. Have a long, luxurious Italian dinner at the cozy Restaurant Chasellas (via Suvretta 22; +41-81-833-3854; entrees $8 to $18).
6. Go night skiing (until 2 a.m.) on Fridays at Piz Corvatsch (+41-81-838-7373).
7. Eat sennenrösti — a concoction of potatoes, bacon, onions, leeks and cheese — at Hotel Hauser (+41-81-837-5050; entrees $6 to $22).
8. Catch a movie at the old-fashioned Scala Cinema (via Maistra 29; +41-81-833-3155).
9. Shake your booty on the dance floor of King’s Club (via Serlas 27; +41-81-837-1000).
10. Reserve a place in the wooden dining car of the Rhätische Bahn for the journey back to Chur (where you change for Zurich).

Summer Seductions

1. Stay at Badrutt’s Palace Hotel (+41-81-837-1000; doubles from about $355) and park yourself by the pool.
2. Run around the St. Moritz lake with the athletes who train here. Allow 25 minutes.
3. Troll the Heilsarmee (Salvation Army) in Celerina (Innpark Haus C; +41-81-833-9378) for great Swiss and Italian Modernist finds.
4. Trek the (well-marked) mountain trail that leads to the pristine village of Soglio.
5. Take a quick dip in the Lake of Staz or, if you don’t mind a hike, in Lake Nair.
6. Rent a bike from Boom Sport (via Tegiatscha 5; +41-81-832-2222) and tour the network of well-groomed trails that ring the town.
7. Check out the exhibition of vintage tourism posters in the sparkling new parking garage between the train station and Badrutt’s Palace.
8. Have a cup of coffee at Hanselmann, in the town square (via Maistra 8; +41-81-833-3864).
9. Dine on pizzoccheri, buckweat pasta cooked with potatoes and greens, at Restaurant zum Weissen Kreuz in Samedan (+41-81-852-5353; entrees $10 to $38), just outside town.
10. Check into the Klinik Gut (via Arona 34; +41-81-836-3434) and have your aching back fixed.