The world’s northern-most hotel is to open for one month in April 2020 in the North Pole. One Nordic travel company is making it possible to experience luxury in the middle of the arctic, but it’s only safe to visit for one month every year.
You can see why Santa Claus chose to set up camp in the North Pole. It’s virtually inaccessible for most of the year due to extreme weather conditions – meaning he can prep for the Christmas season in peace. But in 2018, Scandinavian-born Luxury Action opened an exclusive igloo hotel, so that a select amount of visitors could visit the arctic, and return more aware of how climate change is affecting the region.
What’s the accommodation like?
Ten igloos are on offer at North Pole igloos hotel, complete with central heating and their own toilet facilities. Walls are made of glass, so you feel totally immersed in nature and the snowy scapes around you. The famous Northern Lights are in full view from this spot and on site you are guided by an Arctic wilderness guide and private chefs and security.
According to travel company Luxury Action, the igloos are very safe and have been thoroughly tested in extreme weather conditions. An indulgent stay in one of the heated domes will cost you around €105,000 for six nights, including flights and logistics from/to Svalbard to/from North Pole, all meals, security and guiding.
As far as tourism goes, only around 1,000 people make the journey to the North Pole annually. Most stay in tents with special equipment needed to stay safe in the frozen, hostile environment. Luxury Action CEO Janne Honkanen tells Euronews Living, “I thought that this is the time and the opportunity to give a chance for my guests to experience the North Pole with arctic explorers and scientists in a safe way.”
Is it as sustainable as Luxury Action claim?
The trip is designed to raise awareness around the climate crisis, and the way in which global warming affects the nature and wildlife in the North Pole. Honkanen calls it “transformative travel”, explaining to CNN Travel, “we make a connection with the local people” and “we see the effects first hand.” The CEO emphasises that the pop-up hotel poses no threat to the Arctic environment and is a “purely sustainable experience.”
According to ACCIONA, global leader in sustainable solutions, every ton of CO2 emitted to the atmosphere causes the disappearance of 3m² of arctic ice during the summer. What’s more, since the end of the 1970s, when satellite records began, 35% of the frozen surface area has been lost.
Given these frightening statistics and the fragility of the arctic region, we sought out Wolfgang Günther, biologist and Head of Sustainable Tourism at the Institute for Tourism in Northern Europe (NIT), to ask what he thought of the igloo experience.
Achieving truly sustainable tourism requires an “ambitious and comprehensive approach that aims at balancing social, ecological and economical needs”, Günther tells me.
It is important to “reduce the CO2 footprint of tourism activities considerably”, he says, and “luxury igloos near the North Pole are in no way compatible with this urgent challenge.”
Conceding to some extent, Günther concludes, “without a doubt, it is responsible to teach guests about the severity of the climate situation,” but says it is “hard to imagine how this would compensate for the high negative impact of the trip itself.”