A cozy, lodge-style resort surrounded by acres of picturesque Alaskan scenery: towering snow-capped mountains, aqua blue glaciers, and native wildlife.
Growing up in Southern California, I always thought of Alaska as a far off, distant land. I never imagined the state as much more than snowdrifts and skiing. But during our travels, we heard rumors of Alaska’s beautiful nature. We heard about the exhilarating recreation, the diverse wildlife, and the crisp cool air. Eventually we knew we had to check it out, if anything to catch a glimpse of a bear and breath in really fresh air!
When we arrived at Alyeska Resort, the rumors were proven true. After an 11-day cruise, we decided to extend our Alaskan experience. After all, were there during the summer and loved not freezing to death! Because of the season, we had to so much to do and so much to see. Alyeska Resort was the perfect base to explore everything Alaska has to offer. (And it’s a lot!)
About the Town of Girdwood
The Alyeska Resort is located about 40 minutes from Anchorage, in the small and historic town of Girdwood, Alaska. Once a hub for gold miners, the town was named after Colonel James Girdwood, a merchant who claimed the area’s first mining properties in 1886. The mines around the area were filled with gold and the miners were extracting an estimated 700 ounces of gold per month! But during World War II, the focus of Girdwood shifted from mining to industry. Because of it, Girdwood gradually settled down and became a quaint, mountainous destination for adventurous travelers.
Today, Girdwood is filled with locals and tourists, both of which can’t get enough of the town’s breathtaking scenery and perfect mountains (a favorite with skiers). Amongst the abundant nature, you’ll find plenty of restaurants, Aleysa Resort, bars, and shops. While Girdwood is paradise for any outdoorsy-type, anyone can find something to do in this Alaskan getaway.
The Alaskan Experience at the Alyeska Resort
When we pulled up to Alyeska Resort, we were first blown away by the sheer size of the property — it’s huge! The whole resort feels like the coziest lodge you could dream up. The chateau-style of the hotel involves tons of dark, polished wood and roaring fireplaces. You’ll probably find yourself craving a cup of cocoa and warm socks, it’s just that kind of place! The lobby at Alyeska is an example of the resort’s general grandiose. Throughout the space there are tons of snug nooks to enjoy tea and a book — or a cocktail if that’s your style. Alyeska Resort even has it’s own version of the Aurora Borealis painted on one of their ceilings.
To fill it’s massive size, the Alyeska Resort has a handful of restaurants and shops to check out. You could roam around the hotel and discover a new amenity everyday. Our favorite part might have been that hotel had easy access to the Alyeska Aerial Tram, which takes you to the top of the mountain. But we were happy to find the other amenities, like the saltwater pool, whirlpool, deluxe spa, and fitness center. But the real highlight in Alyeska Resort is the outdoors spaces, which are easily accessible by little trails and paths.
The resort rests at the base of Mountain Alyeska and is surrounded by 1,610 skiable acres and 76 established trails. It gets an astounding 669 inches of snowfall per year, making it great of Winter sports. What this means is: there’s something for everyone to enjoy!
During the summer, Mt. Alyeska has even more summer trails and bike paths to explore. Chris and I loved just walking outside the property and seeing the trees and creeks come to life. It felt like we were in a different world. Maybe it was all the fresh air, but Chris and I fell in love with Alyeska. We felt like it was a place we could return to repeatedly for the great service and natural atmosphere. It’s the kind of place that could easily become a family tradition!
Sleeping At Alyeska Resort
We walked into our hotel room to find lovely red roses, chilled champagne, and chocolate covered strawberries on display. It was like the hotel already knew me so well! Our room was simple and comfortable. It carried on the lodge design with wooden features and native photography. The bathroom was pretty spacious and had nice toiletries. Overall, our accommodation during our stay was perfect for what we needed.
Dining Options Galore
One of the many things we loved about Alyeska Resort was the variety of dining outlets. Just in the hotel, there are four different restaurants each offering something a little different. Aurora Bar & Grill is a laid-back, casual restaurant that makes awesome pizzas, sandwiches, and salads — although it offers seafood and steaks, too. One night we grabbed a pizza, bottle of wine, salad, and had a romantic picnic in our room!
Sakura Restaurant is a little fancier and specializes in dishes with Asian flair, like creative sushi rolls and classic chicken teriyaki. The Pond Steakhouse is the resort’s newest dining venue, offering upscale meat dishes for the Ribeye and pork chop lovers out there. For breakfast, make sure you check out The Pond Café and enjoy a hearty breakfast before you set out on your day’s adventures.
Our favorite dining experience at Alyeska Resort was Seven Glaciers, an award winning and mountaintop restaurant. We took the sky tram up the mountain at night, and it was an absolutely gorgeous ride! If you take the tram during the day, make sure you keep an eye out for bears down below.
The Seven Glaciers restaurant gets its name from the seven-glacier points you can see from your table. Sitting 2,300 feet above sea level, Seven Glaciers boasts panoramic views of colorful Alaskan scenery alongside its proudly local menu. Make sure you order the king crab legs with a bottle of wine from their impressive wine list. If you’re on the top of the mountain around lunchtime, stop by Bore Tide Deli and Bar, where you can have some seriously delicious sandwiches. Tip: Pair it with a craft beer and don’t skip the fries!
Memories from Alyeska
Glacier Landing Tour
In our opinion, this activity is a must! We boarded a small helicopter just big enough for the pilot and us. The helicopter had a big window so we wouldn’t miss a single site as we flew over the Lake George Glacier, Whiteout Glacier, and Colony Glacier. Our pilot for the tour doubled as a guide. He pointed out important areas and different wildlife, although I must admit, I am the one who spotted a mama bear and her cub and a few moose from above :)
This tour includes a landing on one of Alaska’s glaciers and was by far, the most incredible part of the experience. We tasted fresh glacier water, which was the best I have ever had and walked around the glacial ice .We couldn’t help but gawk at the intricate ice formations left by the glaciers. and the variations of blue that shines out of the ice. Although we’ve been on helicopter tours in the past, this one stood out from others. The personalized attention, stunning scenery, and our knowledgeable guide made this tour unforgettable.
Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
This nonprofit organization is just a ten-minute ride from the resort. The Conservation Center is dedicated to preserving Alaska’s wildlife through means of conservation, education, and quality animal care. It takes in orphaned or injured animals until they are healthy enough to be released back into the wild. If they can’t return to the wild safely, the animal has a permanent home at the center. We loved visiting the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center to observe the animals in such a positive, natural environment, it also made for fantastic photo opportunities!
Tram or hike it up the mountain
The aerial tram is the best way to see the town while gazing upon the photogenic peaks and hanging glaciers. If you’re lucky, wildlife might even be playing down below. Many people also hike the mountain to the look out point, stopping to savor lunch and vistas on the observation deck. Everyone told us that it was a long hike up and going down was worse than going up. So we listened and took the tram up every time. Because of the views, we’re glad we did!
Couples Massage at Alyeska Resort
After all of our Alaskan adventures, our bodies were craving some serious R&R. Thankfully, Alyeska Resort has a beautiful spa with a wide range of luxurious treatments. We chose a couples massage and were tended to with utmost consideration and care. The therapists personalized our massages based on our needs. Both of us wanted something a little more therapeutic, and that was exactly what we got! We left the spa feeling rejuvenated, nourished, and ready to head out for more fresh air.
You Can’t Say No!
If you’re anywhere near the vicinity of Anchorage, Alaska, we highly recommend making a detour and spending a few days at Alyeska Resort. It’s a quick and scenic drive from the airport, so why not stay a few extra days? Or, Alyeska makes the perfect addition on the front or back end of a cruise, as we happily realized.
Staying at Alyeska shows you what Alaska is all about: flourishing wilderness and invigorating adventures. Something about Alaska is enlivening. We promise that when you leave this beautiful, colorful state, you’ll be feeling alive, renewed and refreshed!
For more information about Alyeska Resort, visit their website: