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COMMENTARY: Hôtel de Glace Puts the “Ice” in Licensing

Quebec City
is a winter wonderland in late February and early March. Strolling around historic Old Québec, one can find statues and life-size pieces of furniture carved out of ice, but even then, Ville de Quebec is only getting started. Indeed, a mere 10 minutes from the city’s heart by car—and slightly longer by public transit—is the Hôtel de Glace (aka the Ice Hotel), a major tourist attraction constructed from more than 30,000 tons of snow.

The Hôtel de Glace is constructed in early December, through a method that requires less than zero temperatures across a week. After a very dense snow is blown onto metal frames to create archways and domes, the frames are removed, leaving behind the hotel’s walls and ceilings. Next, heavy blocks of clear ice are moved in, which a team of sculptors uses to create the hotel’s mesmerizing columns, furniture, and decorations.

IceHotel.FrozenSuiteThanks to the efforts of the Hôtel de Glace’s team of artists, there’s a lot to see and experience, and during the most recent season, the thrills included a suite inspired by the animated feature Frozen. The culmination of a partnership between Walt Disney Studios and Hôtel de Glace, the “Frozen Suite” was modeled after the bedrooms of characters Anna and Elsa. Michael Giaimo, the art director of Frozen, supervised the project, which features a dramatically lit bed frame and fireplace (alas, it does not give off actual warmth), among with other cool embellishments.

The “Frozen Suite” is an actual hotel room in which visitors can spend the night. However, I can tell you from experience that sleeping over anyplace made entirely of ice is a tricky process, requiring a particular sleeping bag, warming up properly, and a willingness to wear a hat and gloves to bed. The topic is worthy of its very own commentary somewhere else.

Frozen.MarshmallowThis season also featured a “Frozen Activity Cave,” a play area that similarly takes its cues from the Academy Award-winning movie. It features an ice slide for kids, though fans of the film, no matter what their age, can appreciate the wall carvings and sculptures of such characters as the snowman Olaf and the monstrous Marshmallow.

Once again, Giaimo served as supervisor, and as you can tell from this video we took, that aforementioned ice slide isn’t just fun for kids:

More than ever before, immersive spectacle seems to have become an important part of marketing. For example, working out of New York City, I got to witness this January’s Super Bowl Boulevard in all its glory/sensory overload first-hand. But it’s rare to find a potential product-promoting combination that seemingly fits together as well as Frozen and Hôtel de Glace do. Sadly, both the suites and hotel itself are scheduled to be demolished after March 23; however, it’s only a matter of time before another winter rolls around, and who knows what kind of magic—and licensing deals—that may bring?

For more commentary from Phil, check back often. Views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Licensing Book as a whole. We hope that you will share your comments and feedback below. Until next time!

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