On this episode of A Way To Go, hosts Jeralyn Gerba and Pavia Rosati sit down with Robert and Marnie Sheldon, who operate a luxury hotel on the remote Denali mountain in Alaska. Perched on a glacial island (called a nunatak) at 6,000 feet in elevation, the only way to get to the Sheldon Chalet is by helicopter or plane: “It is the coolest thing, watching guests get off of that helicopter,” Marnie enthuses. “They are stunned into silence. They’re gobsmacked, their eyes are big, their mouths are gaping open.” But how in the world did this gorgeous place get built? And why? What challenges did the builders face, putting a luxury hotel on top of a mountain? And if we were to visit, what would we see and do while we’re there? Jeralyn and Pavia get all the truly awe-inspiring details in this episode, but watch out: you may find yourself packing your bags for a chance to experience this place for yourself.
Don Sheldon, Robert’s father, purchased the five-acre plot of land ten miles from the summit of Denali in the 1950s, thanks to the Homestead Act, and built a rustic shelter for fellow mountaineers and adventurers to come enjoy. His son followed in his footsteps and built the Sheldon Chalet, a high-end, hexagon-shaped lodge with only five bedrooms, to create an intimate experience. “At the Sheldon Chalet, data, cell coverage and internet do not exist. Every single piece of lumber, every drawer pull and every Alaskan king crab leg is flown into a tiny airstrip established by the elder Sheldon,” Jeralyn says. “If it sounds incredible and slightly crazy and almost nearly impossible, it kind of is.”
But the Sheldons forged ahead with their plans, despite myriad obstacles and challenges to constructing and staffing a high-end resort on a glacier: they have incredible chefs, concierges, and guides to help make your stay comfortable and memorable, providing experiences like glacier-trekking, sledding, crevasse exploration, and rock climbing. And for some, just sitting and absorbing the “gorgeous, breathtaking, awe-inspiring scenery” is enough of an experience; besides the majestic mountain itself, guests can see the Northern Lights, gorges deeper than the Grand Canyon, and even Alaskan sand dunes from anywhere inside the lodge. “It just really gives perspective on life, and our place in it,” Robert says. “This is not your ordinary place.”
Find out more about the stunning Sheldon Chalet, from its celebrity chefs to its contributions to tourism and local employment to why the Sheldon family has been so dedicated to bringing people to this remote land, on this episode of A Way To Go.
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