Monthly Archives: January 2014

8 Icy Vacation Destinations

Let me guess, visiting an ice hotel is low on your vacation bucket list.  Not for the outlandish idea, but for the fact that you may never have considered it an option.  This was my initial reaction and I quickly decided that an ice vacation to an icy forest, in winter, was the opposite of my yearly beach vacation dream.  After digging deeper I realized that there was a multitude of exciting aspects of this idea.  For Example, the amazing art, the view of northern lights, and the idea of drinking out of a handmade glass at the ice bar inside of an ice restaurant began to peak my interest.

The following ice retreats are spread over several continents and have a diverse collection of attractions that will attract thousands around the world.

1.   Jukkasjärvi, Sweden

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Surrounded by a village with as many dogs as residents, Jukkasjarvi is home to  The Ice Hotel.  Originating from an art exhibit in 1980 The Ice Hotel has been evolving every year.  As the OG, The Ice Hotel is designed and created from scratch by a new artist, annually.  Everything is created from pulling ice and creating “snice” from the Torne River.  Ice Hotel has established themselves as the grandfather of ice hotels with over 30 years of experience bringing the art of intricate ice sculpture to quaint winter wonderland vacationing.  Sip a martini out of a hand carved ice glass and enjoy the northern lights.

2. Ice Hotel de Glace, Quebec

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This hotel “of ice” features a rustic design full of vaulted ceilings, a chapel, and corridors full of delicately carved columns.  Each suite comes equipped with its own fireplace; despite the contradiction this seems safe.

The bedding for this particular hotel is a little more dynamic than other hotels in this list.  The Hotel de Glace still has a solid ice bed frame, but they also include a wooden inlay that functions as a box-spring.  A top this structure is a thin mattress covered with blankets.  When compared to other sleeping situations these suites are ideal in their comfort, however, most likely still on the stiff side.

3. Aurora Ice Museum, Chena Hot Springs

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Deep in the Alaskan wilderness is the Chena Hot Springs.  This resort combines two polar opposites by bringing its visitors the exquisite fine delicacy of art sculpture and a “sipping bar” alongside a hot springs and spa.  Take advantage of both worlds by viewing the museum, taking ice carving classes, or enjoying the bar.  As evening approaches, dive into a relaxing massage or soak in the springs, while you gaze up at the Aurora Borealis.

4. Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel, Norway (Formerly Alta)

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As the world’s northernmost Ice Hotel, Sorrisniva’s Igloo Hotel houses 30 suites and a plethora of ice activities along with an ice gallery.  The hotel is built by the staff every year with local ice and snow.  Similar to the Ice Museum, this snow world has both hot and cold amenities.

If you are only able to enjoy the ice lifestyle for so long the friendly Norwegians provide shelter for the southerners.  Whether you sit by the fire in one of the igloo suites or while sipping cocoa in the heated restaurant; there will always be something for everyone to enjoy.

5. SnowHotel, Snow Village, Lainiotie, Finland

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SnowHotel, located inside Snow Village, is built from over 3 million pounds of snow and 660,000 pounds of ice.  Imbedded within the walls, floors, art, and any other place you can imagine are thousands of lights creating an ambiance that is unlike any other hotel that I perused.  SnowHotel has created a fantasy environment that has a certain enchanting quality.  Enter a world that contains the soothing qualities of a sauna, a cozy fireplace, and unique suites that are more intricate than you can imagine.

6. Romanian Ice Hotel, Lake Balea, Romania

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Located high in the mountains of central Romania rests our next ice hotel.  The only access to this remote ice hotel is by cable car revealing a fantastic view of the Fagaras Mountains.  This hotel is not designed for those looking for an all-inclusive resort getaway.  However, once you have completed your trek there is a number of activities that will make the trip unforgettable, including: snowmobiling around Balea Lake, ice sculpting, hiking the peaks and overlooking the world.  If any of that interests you than this should move up on your vacation list.

7. Alpha Resort – Tomamu, Shimukappu, Hokkaido, Japan

The Alpha Resort is the complete opposite of the previous Romanian Ice Hotel.  This resort has it all, including: skiing, hot springs, ice slides, ice restaurant/bar, ice church, ice rink, and much more.  This is not a romantic moonlit diner on the Alps kind of place, but a fun in the snow, family oriented resort.  There is no question that you will run out of energy before you exhaust this resort’s collection of activities.

Alpha Resort has created a vignette showing off some of the features at their hotel.

 

8. Village Igloo, Quebec, Canada

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If you are a fan of camping and experiencing a simpler way of living then this is your destination.  The Igloo retreat in Quebec is a small community of igloos that are padded with soft pine branches.  This is the most minimalistic model of Ice Hotel that I was able to find.  Gather around the campfire for Inuit folklore and enjoy the sounds of nature.  Just in case there is always a night watchman on patrol to provide an extra level of comfort and safety.

 

Blog author: Mike Swisher, Content

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How To Choose A Down/Feather Pillow

Benefits of down pillows

Down and feather has been the go to choice for fill in pillows since the beginning of pillow time. This is because down is a natural insulator which can offer warmth in addition to luxurious softness. Feather and down pillows are also diverse because feather and down can be used in different combinations that can offer different levels of firmness ranging from sumptuously soft to firm and supportive. Knowing how different combinations offer different levels of firmness, will help to determine what pillow might be right for you, so here is a breakdown that will hopefully help you to find your perfect feather and/or down pillow.

While down can keep you warm in those colder months, it is also a natural fill that breathes, which means that it will allow airflow both ways, dispersing heat better than synthetic options that can trap it and make you clammy and uncomfortable throughout the night.

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Photo cred: Wikipedia

Down clusters are these luxuriously soft, fluffy, little cotton-ball like feathers closest to the bird’s (goose or duck) skin which offer protection and warmth. Down is light and fluffy and has tiny fiber like feathers without a quill. The quality of these little clusters is determined by their fill power, which means the amount of space in cubic inches 1 ounce of down will occupy; basically, measuring the amount of fluff that the cluster offers. The bigger the cluster, the more air it can hold which means the warmer and loftier it will be.

Support and Recommendations

Down pillows are going offer the softest support. While the down does hold air, it also compresses under pressure and will lend a lot of “give”. Down pillows are wonderful if you’re looking for something that you can sink into. This is ideal for stomach sleepers since the pillow will be soft and comfortable on your face and will allow you to sink in enough to where you’re head isn’t propped up to high.

pcf touch of down blog

If you need something with a bit more support but still crave the down like softness, a pillow with 50% feather and 50% down would be a great alternative. The larger feathers on the outside of the bird (with the quill) are strong and resilient and lend support to a pillow. The equal combination of both offers a nice balance between softness and support.

Pillows with 75% feather 25% down pillows offer enough support for side sleepers. The higher percentage of feather helps the pillow to maintain its shape, keeping your head and neck aligned throughout the night. 75/25 pillows are great because they’re not too hard and not too soft and will provide both loft and support for side sleepers.

If it’s something firm that you’re looking for, I’d recommend a 95% feather 5% down pillow. The very high feather content will lend support and firmness to the pillow. 95/5 pillows will be the firmest option for someone looking for a very supportive feather and down bed pillow.

The descriptions above do describe a very general range of pillows and there are others that have inner chambers with different combinations of feathers and down but as long as you remember that feather=firmer, down=softer, you’ll be able to get a good idea of the support level offered in different pillows.

Blog Author: Monique, Lead Bedding Expert

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5 Ways to Sleep Better in 2014

With the New Year comes the enthusiasm to mold a new you! Most people want to lose weight, pick up a new hobby, or even get out and do new and exciting things. What about a New Year’s resolution to get better sleep? The benefit of getting better sleep can be crucial to helping you succeed in other resolutions you may have! Better sleep can lead to help in weight loss, a sharper mind, and better health defenses. Here are 5 simple ways to sleep better in 2014:

1. Work out and exercise – exercise leads to a more sound slumber. According to the National Sleep Foundation’s 2013 poll, up to 83% of exercisers reported getting very good sleep. This is a win – win situation because you are getting healthy but also getting better sleep!

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  2. Eat dreamy foods – the foods that you eat before bed can affect your body’s level of serotonin, a key hormone that helps promote healthy sleep. Try eating complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, and heart-healthy unsaturated fats.

3.  Shut of technology – technology such as ipads, phones, computers, or even TVs stimulate your brain rather than helping it shut down for the night. Try ditching the technology when your mind gets tired. This could be a good habit to try in 2014.

4. Avoid caffeine and Alcohol – Caffeine will obviously cause you to stay awake longer. Some people like a beer to put them to sleep. This can be the case but during the second half of the night the body breaks down the liquid, the alcohol in the bloodstream often leads to an increase in the number of times a person briefly wakes up. head2 5)      Stick to a sleep schedule – This can be a great habit to form! Being consistent reinforces your body’s sleep-wake cycle and helps promote better sleep at night. 61e3lUKrb2L._SL1500_ These are just a few ways to help sleep well in 2014 and even help with some of your New Year’s resolutions in the process. Here is one more bonus tip for you; get comfortable! Create a room that’s ideal for sleeping. This can mean cool, dark and quiet as well as cozy bedding! I hope this article helps on your endeavor to a better night’s sleep in 2014. Sleep well. Live well. Blog post author: Jesse, Bedding Expert

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