Alaska Range luxury hotel has historical roots
It's a luxury hotel in an unlikely spot, and guests can expect to take a helicopter to get there. The Sheldon Chalet is a dramatic structure perched high on an exposed rocky outcropping of the Ruth Glacier in the middle of the Don Sheldon Amphitheater, surrounded by mountains, including Denali.
The hotel sits on one of the rare pieces of private property located within Denali National Park and was just completed in May.
Co-owner Robert Sheldon is aiming for high-end tourists. He said for $2,300 a night, which includes transportation, meals and guides to explore the area, guests can expect a luxury experience in a world-class destination. There are five guest rooms at the chalet, each with a view of the mountains during the day, or, frequently, the Northern Lights at night.
But despite the luxurious surroundings, Sheldon said the idea for the chalet had its roots in a much more humble structure. A short walk up the glacier sits the original Sheldon Mountain House. The six-sided cabin was built in 1966 by Robert's father, the legendary glacier pilot Don Sheldon, who made the Alaska Range his second home.
For decades, the Mountain House functioned as a destination for climbers and skiers. But Sheldon said unbeknownst to him, it was also a prototype for a bigger hotel his mother and father hoped to build on the glacier. When Don Sheldon died in 1975 the dream might have died with him, but Robert Sheldon said he and his sister learned recently that his parents had started work to make the chalet a reality.
"We didn't find these plans until the fall of 2014, when my mother passed on," said Sheldon, unrolling several pages of architectural renditions of the chalet.
Sheldon and his sister Kate had already decided to build on the spot and were about 35 percent into the design phase when they came across plans from 1968 that showed their parents had the same idea, almost to a "T." Sheldon said the similarities between what was envisioned in the late '60s and what would be built nearly 50 years later was remarkable.
"It's an indescribable feeling to be able to fulfill their vision," said Sheldon.
Sheldon said he and his sister Kate have built the hotel that his parents always dreamed of and one he knows they would be proud of. The chalet expects to welcome its first paying guests in February.