Running a Hotel at the End of the World
Mittarfeqarfiit operates hotels in conjunction with several different airports. Travellers have plenty of options for accommodation in larger cities, but when you operate a station right in the middle of nowhere as the one in Nerlerit Inaat, the surrounding community cannot back you up with infrastructure, for obvious reasons. There is quite simply no surrounding community here. Nerlerit Inaat – or Constabel Pynt as it is also called – is located almost 500 km north of the Arctic Circle and 40 km away from the nearest village, Ittoqqortoormiit. Roads there are none of, so if you need to get to Ittoqqortoormiit, you either have to fly on a helicopter or ride a dog sled.
Just imagine – if Denmark had the same low population density as Greenland, there would be 2,018 people living in the entire Copenhagen Capital Region! Population density in East Greenland is even smaller – and you can hardly get more isolated than Nerlerit Inaat. You are left all on your own here, which is why it is also somewhat of a challenge to operate an airport such as this one. For example, it is the staff themselves, who are responsible for ensuring that the buildings have power and heating, and it is them that pump water from the river in the summer and melt ice in a gigantic melting vat in the winter to have water for bathing, housekeeping and drinking.
„There is no village we can buy something from. We have to take care of all the things others take for granted ourselves,“ explains Nerlerit Inaat’s operations manager, Robert Larsen. The airport and the hotel is run by a total of 12 people. There is a chef, cleaning personnel, mechanics, an electrician, a fire chief, traffic clerk, an AFIS operator for the control tower as well as employees at the terminal. Robert explains that it is extremely expensive to have people flown in from the outside, e.g. in order to repair something. This is why it is an enormous advantage to have employees who can handle the multitude of different tasks there can be at such an airport.
So it is neither a normal airport, nor a normal hotel that Mittarfeqarfiit is running here in Nerlerit Inaat. Even if the guests at the hotel are guaranteed breakfast, lunch and dinner, the weather can be so foul as to make the 200 metres that separate their accommodation from the airport canteen an impossible struggle. Flight delays caused by tough weather conditions are the reason why many of the guests stay at the hotel. Nevertheless, there are also people who come to Nerlerit Inaat almost as if to defy the weather, because they are attracted to tough conditions and raw nature. In the summer season, the hotel accommodates many researchers who come here to study climate change, meteorological conditions, geological deposits as well as the unique nature in the areas surrounding Nerlerit Inaat.
The airport is situated on the Jameson Land peninsula, which is located on the border of the largest national park in the world and is also an entry point to the beautiful landscapes of the Scoresby Sund fjord. Rikke Guldborg Hansen is a biologist and researcher at the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources and has been in Nerlerit Inaat several times in connection with her work. She says that there are some absolutely unique and fantastic natural areas around Nerlerit Inaat. „It is absolutely fabulous to be able to sit on the porch by the hotel and enjoy a stunning vista of musk oxen and wild mountains in the horizon. The area has enormous potential,“ says Rikke.
The airport staff have been working to improve the little hotel’s facilities during the fall. They have been painting, installing new beds, purchasing new furniture for the common area and implementing a number of other renovations that should help guests enjoy their time in Nerlerit Inaat. „Things are much better now. There are substantial improvements in both the rooms and the common areas, which have also been refurnished with new furniture,“ says Robert Larsen about the renovations. The employees are doing whatever they can to ensure guests at Nerelrit Inaat have a wonderful stay, and Rikke Guldborg Hansen cannot help join in on the praise: „The station functions really well. Everyone who works here is nice and friendly. They are just so accommodating,“ says Rikke.
Written by Communications Consultant Rune Bo Viborg Kaldau
Phooto: Per Arnesen – Visit Greenland
Photo: View of the hotel from the control tower in Nerlerit Inaat
Photo: Søren Knudsen – Nerlerit Inaat airport and hotel
Photo: Per Arnesen – Visit Greenland