A carved ice polar bear at his head, and a sheet of ice beneath him, Geoff Watkins slept like a baby.
He awoke Jan. 31 with his wife cocooned next to him, and later discovered he’d established a record.
The Sidney couple spent the night at the Hôtel de Glaçe which turned them into mini-celebrities as the hotel learned that 90-year-old Geoff was the the oldest overnight guest to grace the hotel since its opening in 2001.They were talked about on Radio Quebec that morning and were recognized as minor celebs at the airport.
The 90-year-old said he “slept like a baby.”
“It was so incredible. The fact that we did it and we were the oldest couple that ever did it. It makes you realize that, hey, because you’re old don’t give up,” said Ruth, 84.
The temperature inside the Quebec City hotel was –5 C; outside was –20.
“They suggested you change your clothing and put something lighter on, but I said, ‘No way, I’m going to sleep in all my clothes,’” Geoff said. The couple added socks and hats to the ensemble before climbing into the cumbersome cocoons, with just a slim mattress between the sleeping bags and the ice bed.
“We didn’t think we were going to sleep very much,” said Geoff. “But I went to bed at 11 p.m. and I slept like a baby. Once you’re in the sleeping bag you warm up fast. I found the hardest thing was to get into that sleeping bag.”
Each year the ice hotel melts away to be redesigned and sculpted for the next season.
“It was absolutely mind-bogglingly beautiful. It was so beautiful that it completely bowled you over,” Ruth said.
Geoff added the sculptures stood out. “I enjoyed the hotel, all the carvings. Our headboard was a big polar bear. Everywhere inside is carvings. The passageways are like ice caves and they’re so beautiful. And the lighting … it comes right through the ice.”
There are no fireplaces or washrooms in the 36 suites, but rather in an adjacent building.
“I was lucky because I’m not one of those people who have to get up at night to go to the bathroom,” Geoff said with a chuckle.
The chilly night of sleep wasn’t their most interesting to date.
“This was our second most incredible night, sleeping on ice,” Ruth said.
Years ago they slept at the Treetops Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya.
“You’re sleeping in a tree with animals galloping around you,” she said.
All the animals are ice carvings at Hôtel de Glaçe, but the couple did head out for a dogsledding adventure the next day.
“Don’t give up and be old. There’s a lot to life,” Ruth said.