Snow covered roads wind through caverns lined with sugar coated pines from October through April. Annual snowfall for Girdwood is 650 inches. Alyeska is Alaska’s premier Ski Resort with over 300 rooms slope side. The skiing is accessed through a fun and thrilling vertical tram ride to the top. Located 40 minutes south of Ted Steven’s International airport in Anchorage, Alyeska’s steep slopes, laid back attitude, long runs, and moderately priced ($60) lift tickets make it a must-stop for serious skiers and snowboarders. Heli-skiing is available at the resort through Chugach Mountain Guides.
Alyeska Resort is reminiscent of the Pacific Northwest’s large-scale style with its great rooms, natural wood and slate interiors, and massively tall ceilings in the public spaces. The interior mimics the expansiveness of Alaska’s great outdoors. My large room had a comfy king bed, a big tub, beautiful décor, and an incredible view of the mountains.
Alyeska’s Pond Cafe’s giant windows allow visitors to take in the outdoor beauty while eating tasty pancakes or some of their other delicious breakfast entrees. The egg white and vegetable frittata along with a Starbucks latte was as wonderful as it sounds and a good hearty but low calorie breakfast to start the cold winter’s day.
Dinner at the resort’s renowned restaurant, Seven Glaciers, has a farm to table approach that features locally available produce, seafood, and game. The restaurant is known for its selection of 700 different wines and the views of seven hanging glaciers amidst the peaks of the Chugach Mountain range. And for dessert, the Baked Alyeska should not be missed!
At the Alyeska Spa, a soothing and nurturing Swedish massage was given by Kat, a native Girdwoodian masseuse – an earth faerie healer extraordinaire! Her mystical touch released all of the tension from the previous day. The new age music permeates the atmosphere and the aromatherapy smelled of lavender and pine and reminded me of a heavenly garden. It was an essential oil blend called Harmony, and actually contained a blend of 16 fragrances: hyssop, spruce, lavender, geranium, frankincense, ylang-ylang, sandalwood, angelica, rose, orange, bergamot, sage, jasmine, palmarosa, chamomile, and rosewood! The specially blended oil is known to create balance of the body and reduce stress, and it did!
I rode the Alyeska tram to the top (2300 vertical feet!) and experienced the sheer magnitude and spaciousness of the region with views of Turnagain Arm and the Chugach Mountains. I really did feel like I was on top of the world, and nearly was! The hippie snow board dude and dudette operators were classic Jeff Spicoli types (Fast Times at Ridgemont High)! At the top there is a nice little round museum dedicated to native Alaskans and local adventurers. The peak is a great place to take photos and breathe in the amazingly fresh air, even if you are not skiing or snowboarding down.
Dinner that night at nearby Jack Sprat was a heartwarming experience. Jack Sprat has a cozy west coast attitude, and specializes in an organic menu. They use only humanely raised meats and local sustainable seafood. Free-range chicken atop deep green pea sprout risotto was a refreshing lighter meal, different from the often rich dish from Italy. They specialize in local IPA beer and many are organic. Our group opted for the South African Merlot, opened, aerated, and served in a carafe. A blueberry bread pudding ended the delightful supper. The warmth inside of Jack Sprat was a welcome haven from the ten feet of snow piled up outside!
Lucero, a country rock band, played at the Alyeska Resort’s Sitzmark Bar and Grill – also a great place for burgers! The Sitzmark is a venue used by local and top name entertainment.
Spending time in the Chugach Mountains, enjoying the ambiance, cuisine, and people, made for a truly memorable winter wonderland weekend whether you ski or snowboard, or just want to enjoy the resort and its breathtaking sights!
This trip was sponsored by Travel Alaska and the State of Alaska.