Building with Water: An Icy Endeavor

Say it with us: Ice is the new brick! It may seem physically impossible, but some of the world’s most breathtaking structures consist entirely of frozen water.

Whether permanent, semi-permanent or temporary, these renowned structures push the boundaries of traditional architecture and have us wanting to travel the world just to catch a glimpse of their beauty. 

 

Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel — Finnmark, Norway

Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel rests in the county of Finnmark, Norway and was first introduced to the world in 1999. It is the largest, northernmost ice hotel in Europe and the second ever constructed in the world.  

Like Sweden’s IceHotel, the Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel is reconstructed annually. The hotel consists of 30 rooms, a chapel and ice gallery, all of which adhere to a new theme each year. Sorrisniva is open for reservations from mid-December through the beginning of April every year.

 

IceHotel — Jukkasjärvi, Sweden

Sweden’s IceHotel—the first in the world—was founded in 1989 and has been rebuilt every year since its inception. With 55 rooms, 10 restaurants and an ice chapel, the IceHotel undoubtedly attracts a lot of attention. In fact, artists from all over the world apply for an opportunity to contribute to the hotel’s building and design every year.

The hotel, built naturally with ice and snow from the nearby Torne River, is open annually from December through April and ultimately melts in the summer—only to be rebuilt again the following year. Those who book a stay at the incredible IceHotel in the winter months have a chance to see the Aurora Borealis firsthand.

 

Hôtel de Glace — Quebec, Canada

The Hôtel de Glace (“Ice Hotel”), originally built in 2001, was the first ice hotel in North America. This 44-room hotel is furnished with deer furs for warmth and contains a chapel, spa and even a slide constructed of ice. It generally requires 50 workers and an estimated month and a half to construct the building, which consists of 30,000 tons of snow and 500 tons of ice. The hotel is available for booking from January until March, and rooms start at $450 per person.

 

Winter Carnival — St. Paul, Minnesota, United States

After a New York reporter referred to Saint Paul, Minnesota as “another Siberia, unfit for human habitation” in 1885, the city’s population decided to take a stand. They created what is now known as the Saint Paul Winter Carnival and have since constructed a total of 36 ice palaces as chief attractions to the annual carnival. Unfortunately, the city is unable to build an ice palace for every carnival and the latest structure was constructed in 2004—nearly 13 years ago!

Ice Palace — St. Petersburg, Russia

In 1740, the world’s first known ice palace was commissioned by Russia’s Empress Anna Ivanovna to celebrate Russia’s victory over the Ottoman Empire. The empress requested the construction of an enormous ice palace to commemorate the victory. In 2005, Russian historians teamed up with ice sculptor Valerij Gromov to recreate the ice palace.

From hotels to palaces to everything in between, buildings made from ice are impressive both as works of art and feats of engineering. For more winter wanderlust, check out our guide to water-tastic vacations

 

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5 Keys to a Safe, Stress-Free Bath

 

Nothing quite beats a relaxing bath to unwind after a long day. But before hopping in the tub, remember to put safety first. There are potential hazards that could arise during bath time such as slipping, falling, or even drowning.

January is nationally recognized as Bath Safety Month, so there is no better time to read up on our complied tips for keeping your time in the tub relaxing and safe. 

Keep an Eye on the Kids

Obviously, small children should never be left alone or unsupervised while in the tub. Kids aged four and under are at the greatest risk for bath-related accidents and should remain under guardian supervision at all times. Ideally, children should bathe with some degree of adult supervision until they have reached at least seven or eight years of age.  

Rinse Away Those Suds

A sudsy bathtub floor is the perfect surface for slipping. To prevent an unpleasant and dangerous fall in the bath, rinse away as much foam, bubbles and sudsy bath residue as you can before standing up and exiting the tub. If the floor remains slick, proceed with extreme caution and consider installing a handrail to make bath time safer.

Traction Prevents Tripping

One effective strategy for preventing a sudsy slip is to invest in a traction pad or adhesive for the tub floor. These affordable, easily accessible items reduce the risk of falling by creating friction for the feet and prevent the potential of leaving behind a slick surface. Implementation of bathtub traction pads is beneficial to bath-goers of all ages, since everyone from toddlers to senior citizens can potentially suffer from a fall. 

Soothing, NOT Scalding

Hot baths are lovely, but it’s important to remember baths are intended to be soothingnot scalding! When filling up the tub for a bath, make sure to check the water temperature several times before climbing in. If it is too warm for comfort, run a bit of cold water, and then check the temperature of the bath again before you enter.

This advice is particularly important when preparing a bath for small children, since they are more likely to jump right into a hot bath without considering the temperature. Additionally, children do not have the same capabilities as adults when it comes to handling extreme temperatures. Bath water that’s just hot enough for you might be too warm for a little one, so use extra caution when preparing a child’s tub. 

Steer Clear of Sharp Edges

It’s easy to forget that sharp edges can act as a bath safety hazard. Bathtub faucets, drains and showerheads could pose a risk of cuts or scrapes, and become dangerous when accompanied by a slip or fall.

To reduce the potential of a scrape, use rubber faucet and drain covers and hide any sharp edges with a towel or soft material. If you have young children, steer clear of any bath toys that have harsh edges or are made of hard plastic—nobody wants to land on those in the event of a stumble.

The next time the January cold gets to you, we hope you’ll keep these precautions in mind before indulging in a warm, relaxing bath. Don’t forget your rubber ducky! 

 

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Wading Through the New Year with Water Fitness

It’s at the top of every list of New Year’s resolutions: Exercise. Getting fit. Going to the gym.

The first weeks of January are known to see an influx in gym memberships, but those quickly fizzle out over the following months. To help you stay on track and enjoy your exercise regimen, experts suggest that variety is key. With this in mind, perhaps try one of the following water-based fitness activities in 2017.  

Swimming

When we talk about water, swimming always comes to mind. As an exercise dating back to prehistoric times, swimming provides a full-body workout through numerous stroke variations. Whether you freestyle, breast stroke or doggy paddle in a lake, ocean or swimming pool, swimming offers a plethora of opportunities to have fun while getting fit.

Rowing

 Rowing (or “crew”) is generally thought of as a competitive sport, but who said you have to be a professional athlete to hop in a kayak and paddle out on the lake? Rowing primarily works the upper body, back and shoulders, and it’s even known to improve posture. If a water source and/or kayak or canoe isn’t easily accessible, most gyms nowadays have a variety of rowing machines. Be sure to take the necessary precautions to stay safe if you hit the water!

Ice Skating

Ice is simply frozen water, and the winter months open up the option to hit many outdoor rinks remain open through mid-February. Take a lap around the rink or get some friends together for a game of pick-up hockey.

Skating will strengthen your leg muscles while improving balance and posture. Indoor ice rinks are accessible year-round, but nothing beats the open air of an outdoor rink in the winter months. Take advantage of the season before it’s too late!

Water Aerobics 

Traditionally a form of resistance training, water aerobics courses have now evolved to incorporate popular fitness trends such as Zumba, yoga and cycling in order to create an engaging group fitness setting. Water aerobics courses are timeless. We suggest stepping out of your comfort zone and trying one out in 2017.

FloatFit™

Yoga on top of water? The newest water fitness trend of 2017 is FloatFit™, a 30-minute HIIT exercise regimen involving stretches, yoga, pilates and squats. This modern fitness trend is performed on a specially designed $700 aquabase®. Unfortunately, if you’re interested in trying the hot new workout, FloatFit™ is currently only offered at TMPL Gym in New York City—the sole location in the United States. But if you happen to be in the area sometime in 2017, hop in to give it a try.


No matter which fitness routines you try in 2017, we hope you all reach your goals and fulfill every resolution you’ve made for the new year. Happy New Year from all of us at Aqua!

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Hydration Habits for the New Year

3… 2… 1… Happy New Year!

Yep, it’s that time of year again: resolution season. We know how these New Year promises often go. We’ve also been guilty of breaking a few, or all, of them in the past. So to help you ease into the new year, we’ve compiled some easy, achievable and water-tastic resolutions to make 2017 a great year.

 

Health

Hit the gym

But make sure to bring a water bottle, and use it! If you’re serious about the “new year, new me” mentality, then keeping hydrated is a must. According to WebMD, choosing foods with higher water content or drinking more throughout the day helps control calories.

Clear your head

Drinking water is good for your body in every way. In addition to flushing out bacteria, staying hydrated can alleviate headaches. Keep your mind active and sharp by drinking just a few more cups a day.

Avoid Colds

Need another way to stay healthy? Consuming water regularly throughout the day boosts your immune system, which helps keep colds at bay.

 

Wealth

Like fish in a barrel

Save money like a pro. Install a rain barrel or bucket, it’s as easy as that. Collect rain water to water your garden and inside plants with.

Scrap the tap

This one may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to forget. Turning off the faucet when you’re brushing your teeth or cleaning your dishes saves a ton of water and money.

Ditch the disposal

Even if you have a garbage disposal we recommend putting your food in a compost bin instead of dumping it down the drain. Not only will your pipes thank you, but so will your garden.

 

No matter how you choose to ring in the new year, we hope you have a happy, healthy and hydrated 2017!

 

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Communications Manager Donna Alston Explores the Relationship Between Social Media and the Customer Experience

Hey! Who Opened That Door?

I recently had the privilege to be part of a panel of communications professionals who were charged with dropping knowledge about social media and the customer experience on a group of students studying communications at my alma mater, Temple University. My first thought was that because the audience was primarily millennials, that they should likely be dropping social media knowledge on me.

After I pulled myself together, I remembered that the topic was really about the customer experience and how it has been impacted by social media. Feeling a bit more confident, I began to think about just that. One of the most significant impacts of social media is that it has made everything public. No more private showing or sharing of anything that has been documented in any way, for anyone, anymore—and probably never again. Terms like, “behind closed doors” and “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” are now officially anachronisms.

But what has this truth meant for the customer experience? On the business/service provider side of that experience, it means that customer service is no longer solely seated in the “customer service department” because now, the entire world has a bird’s-eye view of that customer experience. What used to take place between one customer and one service representative via a secure landline is now on the internet for everyone to see. Many customers are less likely to use landlines (which are nearly anachronisms) to call a service provider, than they are to use cell phones to Tweet their issues, airing them on companies’ social media sites—which could easily be the most massive of all mass media.

This thought alone can be daunting, particularly when you consider that most customers only connect with customer service when there is a problem. So how are businesses to handle this still-rather-new, very public customer experience?

When I think about the answer, I’m reminded of my childhood and my parents in particular, who taught me to always be on my best behavior. And make no mistake about it, there was no compromise on that mandate when in public. I’d better not embarrass them when we were in public—because my behavior was a direct reflection of their parenting skills and an implication of what took place in our home.

In much the same fashion, companies should always have their best face forward when managing customer issues on social media (and elsewhere). When they don’t, just like with the misbehaved child, they leave the public wondering what’s going on at home. Who is minding that store?

Customer issues raised on social media should be handled with the same promptness, courtesy, concern, and attention we would provide to our most loved family member. Their handling should reflect the company’s brand and values, and embody its mission, because just like the child, it provides an indication of what’s going on inside the business and what is taking place with their operations.

There is already an inherent relationship between customer service and operations, which is often the primary source of information needed to reply to customer queries. However, customer service professionals charged with managing the social customer experience would be greatly served by consulting their company’s communications professionals. Social “media” has created a nexus where customer service and communications meet. I suggest that the best social customer experience is one that is informed by customer service and communications professionals. The icing on the cake comes when both of these groups have complete and consistent access to their peers in operations who are keeping the business running.

Operations professionals ensure that the information needed to provide the right answers and appropriate solutions to customers is made available to the customer service team. They should also provide notice of potential issues in a timely fashion so that customer service can proactively alert customers about potential problems when appropriate. These decisions should be made with input from the communications team. Customer service professionals ensure that responses are delivered promptly and contain information that will actually resolve the issues, and that proactive messages are delivered when needed. Communications professionals ensure that all messages are consistent with the company’s brand, values and mission.

When the customer service/communications nexus is synced and fed consistent and comprehensive information from operations, it doesn’t matter that the door is open and your company’s customer experience is taking place in public. Why? Because now, like that well-behaved child, your company is on its best behavior, leaving little or no room for anyone to wonder what’s going on at home or who is minding that store.

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