Alaska has become hot, even during the cold winter. Between May 2013 and April 2014, Alaska broke its tourist record with over two million out-of-state tourists visiting. Data conducted and presented in a report by the Alaska Division of Economic Development, 1.96 million visitors was 5,000 more than the record set during the 2007-2008 tourist season. There was also a 6-percent increase from the previous 12-months and its third straight year of growth.
Travelers are drawn to the state because of its unexpected, wide-open beauty. Still considered to be “The Last Frontier,” the increase in tourism is primarily attributed to additional cruises which brought almost one million visitors in 2013 alone. The cruise industry has increased frequency of ports as a result of the reduction in the state’s passenger head tax.
In addition to cruises, there are other ways to experience the beauty and vastness of Alaska. For the super rich, Alaska offers luxury experiences to those who can afford it. The following is a list of the top five luxe experiences in Alaska.
Alaska Sea Adventures
As a self-proclaimed “small cruise company” that offers exclusive trips for families, Alaska Sea Adventures prides itself on being able to reach pristine and wild areas of Alaska’s Inside Passage that is typically inaccessible to the larger ships. Offering a more intimate experience allows the company to deliver the personalized service that attracts clients. Due to the geography of the Southeastern portion of the state, Alaska Sea Adventures is the typically the only option for travelers to access remote areas.
The actual experience is much more interactive than just sit back and watch. Clients have the freedom to set crab and shrimp traps or angle for rockfish, salmon and halibut in the morning then have an all-you-can eat feast in the evening. Within the less disturbed and more remote areas, wildlife is abundant featuring sea lions, Dall’s porpoises, humpback whales and Orcas. The typical adventure is eight-days and seven-nights but is fully customizable. Prices range from $32,500 during the post season to $42,500 during the peak season.
Alaska Yacht Charters
Aboard one of these charters, you will have opportunity to see Alaska’s amazing wildlife including brown bears, moose, wolves, sea lions, harbor seals, humpback whales, orcas and eagles. While on-board of your private charter boat, you can catch and eat, if you choose, a variety of local seafood. As the yacht navigates through the Norwegian-like fjords, dodging icebergs and passing tide-water glaciers, you will arrive in-time to see the thundering calving of large pieces of ice crashing into the ocean. This in itself is an amazing part of nature that is different than any other type of experience available.
The 9-day package includes one hotel night prior to and following the cruise with 7 nights and 6 days on the vessel and costs $36,000 for a group of four. All food, drinks, room and board are included with the exception of hard liquor, fishing licenses and gratuities. Most of their competitors do not have the permits to bring their clients into the Tongass National Forest which boasts amazing scenery.
Steamboat Bay Fishing Club
As one Alaska’s most exclusive sport fishing lodge, the newly constructed Steamboat Bay Fishing Club experience is focused on small groups with a 16-guest maximum. With a location nestled along a remote bay, the lodge provides beautiful waterfront and forest-view rooms with a sauna, open bar, hot tub and spacious club room. The executive chef structures all meals to the preferences of the guests which always includes the catch of the day. The actual fishing is considered to be one of the best saltwater versions available with ling cod, king and silver salmon and halibut available. The lodge also custom-processes fish to order in which they vacuum seal the catch, freeze-it and package it to accompany your luggage.
A four-night package costs $6,000 per person so a family of four will run around $24,000. Also, reservations are marketed by the club as invitation-only so agents who request a date will receive the exclusive invitation which is then shared with the client to improve the customer experience.
Tailor Made Wonders of Alaska
With views of towering mountains, jagged glaciers and dense Arctic rain forests, Alaska is an untouched wonderland of animals and geological features that are waiting to be explored and discovered by adventurous travelers. Created by Luxury Tailor Made Travel, this 9-day private journey allows you to explore the state’s pristine and vast wilderness while meeting Martin Buser, an Iditarod champion who knows the lay of the land. Also part of the experience is a glacier-back dropped cruise through Kenai Fjords National Park and the opportunity to go completely off the grid at Denali National Park where you can hike and search for wildlife with a knowledgeable and informative guide. The cost for this incredible journey begins at $12,645 per person for the entire trip.
Wildlife Frontier Adventure
The Wildlife Frontier luxury experience begins at Anchorage’s only luxury hotel, the Hotel Captain Cook. Once settled, you meet with Iditarod veteran Jon Van Zyle who will discuss the race alongside his stories from the trail. Next, hop on a private sight-seeing tour from the air as you pass Mt. McKinley to the Winterlake Lodge. Here you will enjoy guided hikes, a day-long helicopter tour through the wilderness, fly-casting lessons, swimming, garden touring and the Happy River floating opportunity during the summer. For winter visitors, sled-dog and heli-skiing experiences are available.
You also have the chance to venture to the Tutka Bay Lodge which is settled on the 400,000-acre Kachemak Bay State Park. This lakefront property is a combination of luxurious seaside serenity and high-energy adventure. The highlight of this trip is the bear viewing excursion that occurs along Katmai Coast. The final stop is Alaska’s largest ski resort, Alyeska Resort. Enjoy challenging winter slopes, world-class mountaintop dining, Aerial Tram rides and a private glacier cruise through the Prince William Sound. The land-only price begins at $19,380 per person. The air price varies based on the date and time of travel but will be at least the cost of the land price.