One of the most luxurious and remote lodges in Alaska has just opened on a rocky glacier outcrop, or nunatak, in the middle of Denali National Park.
From its wraparound windows, the resort's 10 guest can at any given time watch the aurora borealis dance around the sky or survey an endless horizon of jagged peaks blanketed in untouched snow.
The only thing between them and the nearest summit is a sheer vertical rock wall that's twice the height of Dubai's Burj Khalifa skyscraper.
It took more than a decade to secure the final permits to build Sheldon Chalet. Construction took three years.
Robert Sheldon, who built Sheldon Chalet with the help of his wife, Marne, and sister Kate, lost his father, Don-a trailblazing Alaskan pilot-when he was just 4. Bob Reeve, Robert's maternal grandfather, was also a pilot who made his name as an Alaskan pioneer.
Guests arrive via helicopter - a ride that takes them zooming through narrow slots in the surrounding canyons - and are greeted with Champagne and Alaska seafood hors d'oeuvres. "It's extravaganza upon arrival," Marne Sheldon said. "One of my favorite things is seeing people's faces when they land and their brains can't quite comprehend what their eyes are seeing. They need a few breaths to take it all in."
The rooms are sparsely designed, with faux fur throws and panoramic views, to keep guests' focus squarely on the beauty outdoors. The Sheldons want the property to be carbon-neutral and believe they're close to accomplishing this, thanks to generous solar panels and a runoff-powered water supply.
During aurora season, mid-September through early March, days are spent "flightseeing" around the national park, snowshoeing, ski touring, and visiting remote hot springs. (You can also build an igloo.)
During "Adventure Season," from early March through mid-July, additional thrills include rappelling, glacier trekking, visiting a mastodon boneyard and fishing.
Evenings can include warm-ups in the rooftop sauna, stargazing sessions and elegant meals by Alaskan chef Dave Thorne, who used to cook for Justin Timberlake, Keith Urban, and Kings of Leon when they were on tour. Dishes such as barbecued Alaskan oysters with roasted poblano and pepita chutney are more often paired with Anchorage Brewing Co. beers than with big California reds.
Nightly rates from $2,300 (R26, 560) per person include accommodations, food and beverages, and helicopter transfers.
The Washington Post.