Hyperlocal experiences in extreme and exclusive lands are high on the agenda for 2016, making Iceland’s rugged beauty—easily incorporating all of the natural elements: earth, fire, ice and water into programming—more than worthy of an eyebrow raise. Just an hour from Reykjavik in Selfoss, a city growing in popularity for incentives, the Ion Luxury Adventure Hotel brings all of this to life for smaller groups seeking big adventures. The design of the 42-room hotel is an experience in itself, holding the folklore and history of its locality in a black lava and concrete structure that juts dramatically from the slopes of Mount Hengill.
Geothermal heating, furniture made with Icelandic wool, Fairtrade organic linens and room amenities made from local herbs are telltales of Ion’s award-winning sustainable ethos. Floor-to-ceiling windows invite the shimmering Northern Lights inside in winter months; many groups opt to soak up this magical moment literally at the Lava Spa pool which overlooks vast mountainous lava fields. Of course, the promise of unparalleled eco-adventures lure most groups to this neck of the woods—whether a challenging trek across an ancient glacier, guided ice climbing or traversing black lava sand beaches and dunes during a Jeep safari to ancient waterfalls and volcanoes such as Hekla, thought to be the entrance to hell in medieval Europe.
Hiking trails often lead to natural hot springs, but the main water attraction awaits in the Thingvellir National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). The Silfra fissure, located on the rift between Eurasian and North American tectonic plates, offers groups a chance to dive or swim Iceland’s freshwater lakes between continents. Rated the world over as one of top 10 diving sites, the fissure’s position, combined with unsurpassed underwater visibility, make it a once in a lifetime experience. The natural beauty surrounding Ion is complemented by the on-site Silfra Restaurant and Northern Lights Bar, serving modern Icelandic and Nordic cuisine that embody the local flavors and spirit of Iceland.