As I watched the Northern Lights dance across an Icelandic sky to an orchestra heard only by me, William Shakespeare’s words “the earth has music for those who listen” were brought to life. Iceland is majestic, moving, and a symphony of nature no traveler should miss.
An easy travel destination for North Shore adventurers, Iceland Air offers a non-stop 5 ½ hour flight from Chicago to Reykjavik. To reach our destination, the all-inclusive resort Deplar Farm, we continued north on a quick 40-minute flight from the domestic airport to the Troll Peninsula. Upon arrival, our driver picked us up in a fabulously large customized Mercedes van with 46” tires (my husband’s dream car). The final leg of the journey was a picturesque 90-minute drive northwest along roads perched above the Icelandic fjords and surrounded by snow-covered mountains.
From the very first moment, we knew Deplar Farm was carefully designed to take advantage of the Fljót Valley’s natural beauty. As we walked through huge glass doors to a warm entrance hall, we were greeted with a view of a majestic mountain reaching on its tiptoes to the bluest of skies and crowned by a pink hue known as the “arctic glow.” To our right was a mudroom where each guest was given a personalized mesh-covered locker with heated warmers inside. As the Deplar Farm Experience Team explained, this is the home for each guest’s outdoor activity gear.
Deplar Farm, an Eleven Experience property, does not have a “hotel” feel as there are only 13 rooms with doors that do not have keys (unless requested by a guest). It really feels as if you are staying in the beautiful home of an old friend. We became quite close with the two other families visiting the property as we ate most meals together in the dining room. Each family is assigned a guide who will be with you for the duration of your stay to book any desired activities and accompany you on all adventures. Láki, with his scruffy beard and ready smile, was our courier for the week. The mostly local staff beam with pride of their Icelandic heritage and are happy to regale you with tales of their Viking ancestry.
Our room—the AUÐUR suite—was situated just past the cozy library and right before the bar and game room. Centered around a divine bed with mountain views, our room also boasted a wooden wraparound terrace. Large windows are outfitted with blackout shades for the days when the sun doesn’t set. A loft space accessible by an iron ladder provides sweet slumber whatever the season—a cozy nook for wintery evenings or a breezy hammock for warm summer nights.
Deplar Farm offers a marathon of outdoor activities from snowshoeing, snowmobiling, cross country skiing, fat biking, Heli Skiing (available mid-March through May) to surfing (yes, this is available in winter). As Deplar provides all equipment, it is not necessary to pack snowshoes, skis, or poles. If you wish to go off-site, your guide can arrange visits to hot springs, dog sledding adventures, or thrilling whale-watching excursions.
Our visit was unusually snowy for January; dear Mother Nature demonstrated the art of snow sculpting by wreathing our balcony with garlands of snow and perfectly surrounding the resort’s geothermal pool with a sloping white wall. We spent most evenings in the pool—floating on our backs in water warmed from the earth, with faces heavenward, thanking our lucky stars and the Northern Lights for Deplar Farm. A recurring thought was, “Life doesn’t get much better than this.”
Aquatic adventures were continued inside when we swam beneath a glass wall to the indoor pool, hot tub, sauna, and steam room. Nature remained ever present as this beautiful space featured floor-to-ceiling windows. For those who like to mix relaxation with adventure, an outdoor arctic sauna built into the hillside is the perfect destination.
To take the level of relaxation up a notch, I had the spa’s signature massage. I am not sure what technique she used but my shoulder has never felt better. Perhaps it was an ancient Viking secret or the Icelandic bioeffect plant-based EGF products? Whatever it was, I highly recommend it.
Ah, the evening hours were blissful at Deplar. Each night the chef used all local ingredients to create sumptuous three-course meals. Delectable dishes featuring cod, salmon, or lamb were enjoyed with perfectly paired wines and lively conversation. At the tender young age of 33, Executive Chef Gardar Gardarsson holds many awards proudly displayed by the owners—his first a Bronze, the second a Silver, and the most recent, a Gold. We wholeheartedly agree with the judges—this talented chef is a winner.
After dinner, we gathered in the bar/game room with our award-winning bartender, Daniel. He not only mixed cocktails better than Tom Cruise in the ‘80s film Cocktail but is also a gifted guitarist and a karaoke king.
Our guide painted a picture of Deplar Farm in the summer— the mountainous landscape of black volcanic rock is blanketed in green moss, and Mirror Lake lives up to its name by reflecting the eternal sunshine and rocky facades. I envision it as if the sun herself drapes the mountains in a cloak of emerald green that spills down and skirts the bluest of waters that teem with cod and Atlantic char. On land, I see fluffy sheep dotting the countryside. I was told these darling animals often press their wooly faces against the lodge’s windows curious as to who is visiting their homeland. With this picture in mind, I will return to Iceland and to Deplar Farm in the months of everlasting sunshine to reunite with my friends and to greet the wooly flock who kept themselves hidden on our wintery visit. Be it fall, winter, spring, or summer—any time of year, Deplar Farm is the perfect place to go for beauty with a side of action. For more information, visit elevenexperience.com.
A visit to Langhus Farm is an absolute must. A quick 20 minute drive from Deplar Farm takes you to an ocean-side property that is home to scores of Icelandic horses—horses whose genetic makeup has not altered in 1,000 years. Just like a Viking, you may set out on horseback Tolting (a special gait favored by this breed) across the landscape with ocean to one side and mountains to the other. Enjoy the ride on one of the world’s purest horse breeds and an Icelandic treasure. For more information visit icelandichorse.is.