So you think you're a dab hand a building sandcastles? These two newly constructed hotels in the Netherlands put even the grandest and greatest bucket and spade creations to shame, taking the concept of a beach holiday to a whole new level in the process. Inspired by the Ice Hotels in Sweden and Finland, the SandHotels are claimed to be the first in the world to be built entirely out of sand.

"It was quite a challenge," says Alec Messchaert, owner of the events and concept development firm behind the hotels, Global PowWow. "Sand has a lot more restrictions than ice, so we had to be very creative in finding the perfect balance between creating a magical sand-room, but also a safe and comfortable environment for our guests."

The SandHotels are part of the of the annual sand sculpture festivals in the Dutch cities of Sneek and Oss. The two festivals are themed around "a trip around the world" and "a journey through time" respectively, and feature sand sculptures made from professional artists from around the world. Over 800,000 kg of sand is estimated to be used at each location.

The SandHotels also embrace these themes. In Sneek, a Terracotta Army made of sand guards an Asian-themed hotel, while, in Oss, the hotel takes the form of a medieval castle. Gizmag is told that the designs themselves were the product of multiple brainstorming sessions and were worked up together with the other sculptures at the festivals.

On the construction process, however, Messchaert is more guarded. He tells us that the building approach and means of binding the sand is "top secret," other than to say that they each took an average of four to five people around four to five weeks to build and measure up to 8 m (26 ft) tall. Nonetheless, Messchaert assures us that the hotels are are solid and safe.

Inside, guests stay in fully furnished suites with luxurious bathrooms, electricity and king-size beds. The walls and ceilings are covered in sand and there are sand sculptures located around the hotel, but guests are assured, that the sand is kept away from any places that it could prove annoying. It is kept to a minimum in the bathroom, for example, and there is soft carpet covering the bedroom floors.

The SandHotel in Sneek opened in June, while the one in Oss opened in August. A stay at either of the SandHotels for two people costs €150 (US$172) per night, with the price including a bottle of Prosecco, a European breakfast delivered by room service and a guided tour of the festival at the chosen location.

Like the icehotels, the SandHotels are temporary, with Sneek due to close on September 20 and Oss on October 4. There are already plans to for them to re-open next year, though, with new locations earmarked in the UK and Germany. Global PowWow says it has been approached by other interested parties around the world as well.

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