Where to stay in Alaska: Alyeska Resort
When my sister invited me to meet her in Alaska last summer, where she often goes for work, I jumped at the opportunity and immediately booked my plane ticket. Our timing was perfect for whale watching, seeing the bears out during the salmon run, and enjoying Alaska without the subzero temperatures.
However, for the first time on my travels, the weather was not my friend. Alaska felt a lot more like Seattle or Portland than the sunny wilderness pictures I had been promised. Despite the grey skies and constant drizzle, we actually had the best time!
We stayed in Girdwood, about an hour from Anchorage, at the Alyeska Resort. The resort is quite large including several restaurants, an indoor hot tub and heated pool, a spa, and a workout room. The rooms are cozy, but it is the immaculately beautiful hotel grounds that really make it special. What I love about this resort is that it provides direct access to some amazing hiking trails, views of the local glaciers, and incredible fine dining.
I've been dying to go back because I have simply never felt more relaxed. Usually, I prefer trips that involve laying in the sun on a gorgeous beach, however, I was surprised to find how much more peaceful it is to just hang out in the hot tub and go for long walks in the rain forest each day.
| Outfit Details: Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, my sister and I lived in our leggings, sweatshirts and rainboots. We never let a little drizzle keep us from exploring our incredible coastal neighborhood.
My Sperry Duck Boots and Hunter Tour Boots were essential on this trip. The Hunter Tour boots are great because they are lightweight and fold easily. The Sperry Duck Boots were perfect for hiking in the muddy rainforest. Both options kept my feet warm and dry, and made it that much more fun to be out in nature!
I swear by Under Armour Heat Gear and Cold Gear products and will continue linking to them until everyone I know is convinced! These leggings kept me cool and dry on our various outdoor activities.
On our first day, we decided to hike the Winner's Creek Trail. It is a pretty easy hike, but the views are so AMAZING. Suddenly, we were enveloped in the most vibrant green foliage as we headed deeper into the rainforest. Soon, we began to hear the sound of rushing water, which is always a promising sign.
Finally, we made it to the Winner's Creek Gorge, where water is rushing powerfully down the mountain. If you are not too careful you will get swept away with it. We climbed down as close as we dared, amazed by this incredible view.
We ended our hike at the Hand Tram, which as you may have guessed is a tram that requires manual effort to pull you across Glacier Creek. Lucky for us, there were enough people to pull us across both ways. You should always earn your trip and help others cross as well. The tram actually goes pretty quickly if your labor is strong enough, but it is still such a thrill to be dangling inside a cage over 100 feet above the rushing water.
After we returned from our hike, we made a reservation at the Seven Glaciers Restaurant, which sits on top of the mountain. To get there, you get to take a scenic aerial tram (or gondola) up the mountain. I recommend taking the gondola up early so you do not miss your reservation.
The views from the tram were beautiful and we even saw a moose walking through the forest! Apparently, there is plenty of wildlife on the mountain, including bears!
The food at the restaurant was so good, I am now a complete seafood snob. Only the best Alaskan salmon and King crab labs will do for this girl. We also ordered the oysters, but I chickened out this time because we filled up on bread before they were served. Eventually, I did learn to love them, though.
The sun does not set until close to midnight during the Alaskan summer, so we found that we stayed up way later than we intended each night. We returned to our hotel room close to midnight, only to realize we had to be up in three or four hours to leave for Seward for our Aialik Glacier tour. More on that adventure in my next post!
The next evening, we were tired and sore from our long day out on the water, so we headed straight for the hot tub upon our return to Alyeska. The pool area is very family friendly, but lucky for us the hot tub was spacious and not too crowded as we soaked. Afterwards, we ate at the sushi restaurant, Sakura Asian Bistro, which is inside Alyeska.
We each ordered a bento box of grilled salmon, Alaskan crab legs, California rolls, rice, miso soup, and salad with ginger dressing. Everything was divine! Also, I thoroughly entertained my sister with my terrible chop stick skills.
We finished the meal with beautifully plated desserts. A wise woman once advised me that you should always order the flourless chocolate cake if it is on the menu, so I of course ordered the flourless chocolate cake and my sister ordered the green tea ice cream.
Unfortunately, the next day was our last day in Alaska. We woke up in time for breakfast at the Pond Cafe (also inside the resort). You can either order off the menu or for $20 you can get the buffet which includes beverages. The buffet is definitely above average with great options like quinoa, fresh cinnamon french toast, smoked salmon and bagels, and made to order omelettes.
After breakfast, we stopped by the concierge desk for recommendations on last minute activities. We were both on the red-eye back home so we had all day to explore. The concierge was wonderful, and was able to recommend two perfect options for us: the Portage Glacier boat tour and the Alaskan Wildlife Conservation.
Both of these activities were just a short drive from the resort. The weather was not my friend again for the Portage Glacier tour, as the tour was canceled due to rain and high seas. There is a short hike that takes you to the glacier as well, but unfortunately this too was not conducive to the weather.
The good news is that this gave us more time at the Alaskan Wildlife Conservation, which is absolutely the coolest place!
Alyeska is such a gorgeous destination resort, and I can't wait to come back and see even more of Alaska.