Alaska really is the last vestige of America’s frontier, so the term “deluxe hotel” might need to be taken with a grain of salt—except when the accommodations in question are the Alyeska. Opened as a ski resort in 1959, the hotel didn’t come into its own until the Japanese Seibu Corporation took over in 1980 and built the luxurious Alyeska Prince. A high-style chateau that sits in a gorgeous valley surrounded by miles of spruce trees, it is framed by the vast bulk of 3,939-foot Mount Alyeska that looms behind it.
Just 40 miles from Anchorage along the scenic Seward Highway that skirts the Turnigan Arm Waterway, the Alyeska (an Aleut word meaning “great land of white to the east”) sits near the funky town of Girdwood in the Chugach Range. Inside, a million board feet of cherry wood paneling link the guest rooms and the public areas, which include a lobby with riveting mountain views and a stunning indoor pool under a wooden A-frame ceiling. Outside, more than 1,000 acres of slopes offer skiing and snowboarding for all abilities. Heli-skiing is also available, as are snowshoeing, crosscountry skiing, dogsledding, and flightseeing. In summer, the resort offers glacier and trail hiking, white-water rafting, salmon and halibut fishing, and bear viewing, plus access to the 18-hole, par-72 Anchorage Golf Course, where during summer you can play from 4:30 a.m. till after midnight.
In the evening, ride the aerial tramway up the mountain for dinner at the sumptuous Seven Glaciers Restaurant. Its view—possibly the best at any U.S. ski resort—inspired its name: On a clear day, you really can see seven glaciers while sampling from a menu that focuses on Alaskan seafood and game.