The sun is constantly below the horizon for three months. During that period, only 3 hours of daylight turn the dark northern sky of Ilulissat into something close to daytime. It’s winter in Greenland and temperatures below minus 30 degrees Celsius are quite common.
On the outskirts of the town, Hotel Arctic rises on top of snowy rocks. Being the only four star hotel north of the Polar Circle – and with five star conference facilities – service and comfort are in demand on the highest level. Especially when it comes to heating and providing hot showers.
“We must be up and running at all times. We cannot afford breakdowns or bad service. When our customers return from a long and cold ride on a dogsled they want a warm room or a hot shower. If we fail, we will lose customers,” says Erik Bjerregaard, hotel manager at Hotel Arctic.
On top of the world
Erik Bjerregaard has been running the hotel for 23 years. It has 85 rooms and every year more than 10,500 people stay at the hotel overlooking the Disko Bay.
In the cellar, a huge oil burner delivers the heating which is distributed by several MAGNAs and ALPHAs from Grundfos. And the potable water is supplied at the right pressure by a set of CR booster pumps.
“The most important thing to us is reliability – in every matter. In a climate like ours we have to rely on our equipment,” Bjerregaard notes.
Payback on investments
In order to avoid annoying and expensive breakdowns, the hotel manager has entered into a service contract with the Ilulissat based installer company, VVS Firmaet. Over the last five years, Erik Bak, a partner in VVS Firmaet, has been in charge of the maintenance of the heating, water system and other technical equipment. One of the goals has also been to fulfil the criteria of the environmental label for tourism, Green Key.
“We started with a total assessment and energy audit of the hotel and proposed a plan involving investment of 135,000 Euros with a payback time of five years. But due to higher energy costs the payback turned out to be only 3½ years,” says Erik Bak
Taking care of nature
Just around the bay lies one of the largest ice glaciers in the world – the Ilulissat Ice Glacier. This was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004 because of the unique ecosystem. And living by and from the glacier demands a certain kind of awareness, respect and care, according to the hotel manager.
“Just by looking out the window we are reminded of the vulnerable environment we are part of. Over the years we have noticed a rise in temperature, less snow and less ice in the fjord. And that is a concern. So I am hoping that our cut in energy can make a difference and perhaps change the trend,” says Erik Bjerregaard.