5 Questions for Sigurlaug Sverrisdóttir
Owner, ION Luxury Adventure Hotel
1. What experience were you looking to create for guests of ION Luxury Adventure Hotel?
The main concentration is to ensure that guests really experience the true Icelandic nature, design, culture, and cuisine. At the same time, we ensure full luxury comfort. It’s the adventurous, mystic, rough Icelandic landscape mixed with design and spa relaxation.
2. Iceland has seen growing tourism in recent years—why is that?
More people are searching for adventurous experiences where they will try something they haven’t done before, such as hiking on a glacier, diving between the two continents, bathing in a hot spring, or watching the Northern Lights dance in the dark winter sky (all options at ION!).
Also the local currency (ISK) got weaker after the financial crisis, making it more reasonable to travel to Iceland—we also have more airlines operating to and from the island today where before there was very little competition, causing high fares.
3. Is that what prompted you to return home from Switzerland and open ION?
Yes, opportunities and growth in tourism was one of the main reasons we returned to Iceland but surely our roots and family also play a large part. People that grow up on an island with a population no larger than 310,000 have the tendency to stay close to one another.
4. What was most important to you in terms of the hotel’s design?
The close relationship between nature, design, and material. We were using an abandoned building, adding nearly 12,000 square feet of new space, including Northern Lights glass bar. I’m very happy with the outcome and especially how well the building blends into the lava/moss environment. The entire concept is built on this—to be high end and heavy on design but in a humble and minimal way with huge respect for the environment.
5. What about the focus on sustainability and community?
We concentrate on the sustainable and fair-trade business all the way through, in everything from the building material, lighting, recycled wood, fair trade/organic linens, bathrobes, Icelandic herbal amenities, spa treatment minerals, slow food at the restaurant, and fair-trade business with local farmers.
Our 32-foot-long outdoor hot tub is filled with non-polluted hot spring water coming directly from the nearby green energy geothermal station. Once it flows out of the tub, it runs through three different filters in order to cleanse it before putting it back into the ground. This process protects the life at nearby lake Thingvellir, as well as the water-protected area, allowing us to reuse the water in years to come.