RESORT HOURS OF OPERATION
POOL HOUSE 7 AM - 12 MIDNIGHT
RESTAURANT 7 AM - 10 PM
LOUNGE 10 AM - 12 MIDNIGHT SUN-THU
10 AM - 2 AM FRI & SAT
ACTIVITY CENTER 9 AM - 9 PM
AURORA CAFE 7 AM - 12 MIDNIGHT
FREE DAILY 2PM GEOTHERMAL RENEWABLE ENERGY TOURS
In addition to our relaxing hot springs, we offer free daily geothermal renewable energy tours for guests to learn more about our energy saving projects. Simply check-in at the Activity Center by 1:45 PM to sign up for the one hour tour.
Fairbanks, Alaska is the capital of ice art in the world and home to the World Ice Art Championships. Many top ice artists in the world make Fairbanks their home.
The Aurora Ice Museum was built as a way to boost tourism at Chena Hot Springs Resort, located 60 miles northeast of Fairbanks while simultaneously offering year-round employment for Steve Brice 15 time world ice carving champion and wife Heather Brice six time world ice carving champion.
Chena Hot Springs erected the first version of the Aurora Ice Hotel (now renamed the Aurora Ice Museum in January, 2004. The Ice Hotel was the first of its kind in the United States, and one of just a handful worldwide.
The museum features a gallery and ice bar, overhead chandeliers made of individually carved ice crystals which change color every six seconds mimicing the northern lights, countless sculptures including a gigantic chess set, life sized jousting knights, an ice fireplace and four galleries with varying themes.
The architect of most of the art is 15 time World Ice Art Champion Steve Brice and his wife, Heather, a six time World Ice Art Champion.
While long daylight hours and summer temperatures in the 90ºF range melted the first Aurora Ice Hotel in July, 2004, the project was not abandoned. The second version was completed in January, 2005, with the ambitious goal of making it the only primarily ice structure in the world to stay up on a year round basis.
Because of the high cost of electric power at the site (30¢ per kWh) it was decided to use an absorption chiller design by Energy Concepts Co. and powered by the available geothermal resource to keep the Museum ‘on ice’ year-round.
This chiller was a unique, three pressure design and the first of it’s kind to be built in the world. In September 2005, Chena Hot Springs won an award for the absorption chiller from the Geothermal Resource Council for the best new direct use geothermal project in the United States.
The Ice Museum has been a resounding success, with more than 10,000 visitors touring it each summer. The structure has withstood high temperatures well into the 90ºF range during Fairbanks' hot summer months.
ICE MUSEUM ABSORPTION CHILLER
The Chena Hot Springs Aurora Ice Museum uses a unique, energy efficient absorption chiller built by Energy Concepts of Annapolis Maryland to keep the Ice Museum 'on ice' year-round. The chiller uses hot water at 165°F from one of our geothermal wells in an absorption refrigeration system similar to one used in a propane refrigerator for an RV. The absorption chiller pumps heat from the ice museum by taking advantage of the low boiling point of ammonia (used as the refrigerant) and the latent heat of evaporation. When high pressure ammonia liquid is expanded into a vapor as part of the refrigeration cycle, a lot of energy (called the latent heat of evaporation) is needed. This energy is 'pulled' from the ice museum via a circulating salt brine. An everyday example of how evaporation causes cooling is how you get chilled, even in warm weather, when your skin is wet after getting out of a swimming pool without drying off. As the water evaporates off your body, it 'pulls' heat (equivalent to the latent heat of evaporation of water) from your skin, making you cold. Without the Energy Concepts Absorption chiller, Chena Hot Springs would need to run our backup 200 ton Trane vapor compressor chiller, which requires 125kW (1/3 of our total on-site power needs) to operate. The cost in fuel alone to run this unit is $500/day! In contrast, the absorption chiller uses about 12kW to operate.