It's bright, it's new and it's coming to Montreal's Jean Drapeau Park on Friday, January 6, 2012. It's Snow Village Canada, a full village made out of snow and ice. Snow Village started in Finland over 10 years ago. It expanded to Norway. Against the backdrop of the Jacques Cartier Bridge and the Montreal skyline, Snow Village Canada is taking shape in Parc Jean Drapeau on Ile Sainte-Helene, a small island in the St. Lawrence River, right across from Montreal. (You may recall it as one of the islands where Terre des Homme, the 1967 World's Fair, hosted by Montreal took place.)
On Wednesday, on the last day of my Christmas vacation in Montreal, I was given a sneak peek at Snow Village Canada. Before the January 6, 2012 grand opening and ahead of most of the press, I enjoyed a personal tour and photo opportunity. Guy Belanger, one of the founders of the Snow Village in Montreal, and Rami Kurtakko, one of the founders of Snow Village in Finland showed me around.
Snow Village Finland
I discussed the inspiration for the concept with Rami. He said that it was his father's idea. They had a snow mobile rental business in Finland. They needed to generate excitement and attract larger crowds. What started with walls of snow, developed to include giant snowballs, labyrinths and, eventually, snow buildings. The rest is history. Rami attributes their success to hard work and a lot of luck.
Snow Village Canada
I asked Guy why he and his partners decided to create Snow Village Canada. He told me that when he, Carl Fugere, and Yanick Tremblay, the co-founders of the Snow Village in Montreal, stayed at Snow Village in Finland 2 years ago, their visit inspired them to bring it to Montreal.
They conducted in-depth marketing research to determine if Montreal was ready for the concept. When it was evident that the timing was right, they signed a 5 year contract with Parc Jean Drapeau.
Rami Kurtakko & Guy Belanger
Guy has an interesting background. When I first arrived, we started out speaking in French. When Guy switched to English, it was clear that he is perfectly bilingual. I asked him where he picked up his English.
He shared with a twinkle "My mother is from Toronto. When she met my Dad, who is Quebecois, she didn't speak much French....but they both spoke the language of love and here I am". Guy grew up speaking English with his mother and French with his father. It's easy to understand why romantic touches and stunning effects created by lighting are definitely evident throughout Snow Village Canada.
The Montreal Snow Village has a number of unique features including an ice hotel. The lobby has a replica of the Montreal skyline carved into the ice on the wall behind the check-in desk.
- 15 standard rooms
- and 10 prestige suites
All rooms will have real beds. I saw them being assembled. Guests will sleep in special sleeping bags.
The complex has:
- a heated glass igloo
- an ice chapel for weddings.
- the Icebreaker Reception and Conference Center for business meetings, conferences, and corporate events (see exterior to the right & interiors below).
To the delight of event and meeting planners, inside the Conference Centre you will find:
- the Pommery Ice Restaurant featuring gourmet Nordic cuisine (capacity of 60 guests)
- Amarula Ice Bar with a terrace (capacity 250 guests).
There will be a snow maze and a huge snow slide. Some of the activities that are ideal for special events and team building include snow shoeing, dog sledding, GPS challenges, and ice sculpture competitions. For a unique gala, try dancing under the stars.
The whole concept is so exciting that I couldn't resist the temptation to plant a seed. "Just like Dubai has Ski Dubai, 4 or 5 years from now, wouldn't it be super cool to have an indoor Snow Village Jamaica with hockey rinks and ski hills." (I hope that Danny Melville who started the Jamaica Dogsled team is reading this.)
Overnight stays are quite affordable and a steal compared to ice hotels in other parts of the world. Packages include:
- Welcome cocktail in an ice glass.
- Access to the spa under the stars.
- A magnificent view of Montreal.
- Continental breakfast.
- ...and lots more
A night in the Polar Igloo starts at $195. Standard rooms start at $295 and Prestige Suites start at $299.
So, if you're planning a personal trip, conference or corporate event in Montreal between January 6 and March 31, 2012, hop on the Metro and get off at Jean Drapeau station. Take the path behind the swimming pool. Snow Village is a quick 5 minute walk from there. I can't wait to return when it's finished.
And voila....here is how it all came together about a couple of weeks after my visit.
You'll also find:
Photo Credits: Luxury Winter Events Venue Photos by Executive Oasis International