Ice hotel not a business to melt down, firm says

Ice hotel not a business to melt down, firm says

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet
Ice hotel not a business to melt down, firm says

Lofoten’s ice museum in Istanbul hosted half a million people in one year. Preserving ice-made facilities is harder than building them up, a company executive says.

Lofoten Trading, a global contractor of architectural projects made of ice, is seeking a local partner to build facilities in central Istanbul, according to a senior official.

The Norwegian company is also interested undertaking projects in Kuwait and Dubai, Odd Roar Olsen, the general manager, told Hürriyet during a recent interview.

Lofoten is seeking the right places to build museums on Istanbul’s İstiklal Avenue, the heart of entertainment in Istanbul, and in Sultanahmet, the neighborhood that hosts the historic city, Olsen said.

A probable museum in Sultanahmet will be designed with a Turkish concept, he added.

The company opened an ice museum at Forum Istanbul shopping mall in April 2010. Some 500,000 people visited the Magic Ice Museum in one year. The facility was made of 370,000 tons of ice. Nearly 1,000 glasses made up of ice are used every day in the accompanying bar room. The museum tells the story of the daily lives of Vikings.

Today, Lofoten has developed a new ice concept that includes six ice-made rooms for accommodation along with an ice restaurant and an ice bar.

“We would like to simulate a regular hotel room with a bed, tables and chairs, Olsen said. “No hotel may become rich because it has an ice room. Still, it might gain prestige.”

The company is in talks with three hotel chains active in Turkey, the general manager told Hürriyet, noting that his company would support hotels in building and preserving these ice rooms.

Recalling that Lofoten holds a cultural entrepreneurship license in Turkey, Olsen said the Culture and Tourism Ministry might support a “Turkish” project in Sultanahmet.

“Almost all the tourists to Turkey go there. There are three or four particular spots that we are considering.“

An ice museum in Sultanahmet would cost nearly 3.5 billion euros, according to the executive. Projects inside shopping malls generally cost half that amount.

“The cost of building a 1,000- or 2,000-square-meter project does not differ much.”

The company uses both artificial ice or frozen water brought from the River Torne in Norway. The Norwegian ice has a special blue color, the executive said.

The plan for the İstaklal Avenue project is rather smaller as it is hard to find a suitable location there, he said.

“We are continuing partnership talks in Turkey. Having a sound partner is better than having a partner in any other country.”

Lofoten has been working on taking the ice hotel project to the Middle East for the last four months, Olsen said. “We are close to a deal with a Kuwait-based investment company. This company sees a big potential in taking the concept to the Middle East.”

Still, the company is facing some difficulties in finding a qualified partner in Dubai, Olsen said. “We don’t need a partner on paper but one that will undertake responsibility.”