Anchorage, Alaska: In anticipation of a growing tourism market in the coming years, CIRI Alaska Tourism Corporation (CATC) is making investments in its Seward based Kenai Fjords Wilderness Lodge (KFWL) located on Fox Island, and Kenai Fjords Tours (KFT), with operations based at the small boat harbor in Seward, Alaska.
Spring construction is resuming on the complete redesign and rebuild of Kenai Fjords Wilderness Lodge on Fox Island. The lodge, being built by Seward based Harmon Construction, will be completed and available for guests beginning June 1, 2013. The new 3300-square-foot building is repositioned on the apex of the beach, with immense windows overlooking Resurrection Bay, a new spacious dining area and lounge. Guests can relax in comfort as they keep their eyes on the lookout for sea lions and humpback whales in Resurrection Bay that, on occasion, treat visitors to incredibly intimate sightings right from the lodge.
“The Wilderness Lodge is a place for our overnight guests to gather, enjoy gourmet meals, and relax in the lounge with a good book and glass of fine wine,” said Cathy Martell, general manager of KFWL. “Guests can also participate in a new culinary program this season. The lodge’s redesigned kitchen allows guests to interact with the island chef. Guests will enjoy gourmet Alaskan cuisine as part of their stay, and can take some ‘tips and tricks of the trade’ home to their own kitchen to share with family and friends.”
An evening guided sea kayak tour has been added to other lodge activities including national park ranger-led walks, naturalist presentations and guided daytime sea kayaking. Each stay at the lodge also includes a KFT wildlife cruise which can be upgraded to a National Park Tour or Northwestern Fjord Tour, traveling 150 miles round trip into Kenai Fjords National Park and viewing massive glaciers.
The lodge’s eight waterfront cabins were completely renovated in 2012 with upgraded furniture, fixtures and premium linens. The island chef serves plated gourmet meals at the main lodge and morning coffee or tea is delivered directly to the guests’ cabin doors.
CATC has also committed to the construction of a new, 150-passenger catamaran for KFT to add to its 12-vessel fleet, with delivery anticipated in early 2014. Designed by Teknicraft of New Zealand and constructed by All American Marine in Bellingham, Wash., the new vessel will join two sister-ships, the Aialik and Orca Voyagers.
”All of Kenai Fjords Tours’ catamarans are custom-built specifically for viewing Alaska wildlife and glaciers,” said Paul Landis, CATC president and chief operating officer. “We wanted to develop the optimum vessel, combining an unparalleled viewing experience with passenger comfort.”
The vessel design offers stability, spacious seating, wrap-around viewing decks, oversized, fog-free windows and LCD video monitors. A hydrofoil wing helps lift the catamaran up out of the water, decreasing drag, increasing fuel economy and creating a smaller boat wake. Other innovations include a high quality indoor and outdoor BOSE™ speaker system and a commercial vessel chart plotting system that allows the captain to display the boat’s position to the guests over seven monitors throughout the cabin. The vessel design also allows wheelchair passengers to move about the lower deck, both inside and out, without encountering a set of stairs. This design and the access to the bow of the boat lets all of our guests get closer to the wildlife, glaciers and amazing scenery that Kenai Fjords National Park has to offer.
“This vessel represents Kenai Fjords Tours’ commitment to create the best experience possible for our guests,” said KFT general manager Ron Wille. “These vessels are very fuel efficient and environmentally friendly, incorporating the latest, proven hull designs and engine technology. The new catamaran will meet or exceed the latest EPA marine engine standard.”
Kenai Fjords Tours and Kenai Fjords Wilderness Lodge are subsidiaries of CIRI Alaska Tourism Corporation (CATC). Alaska Native owned and operated, CATC is the umbrella company for Alaska Heritage Tours, Kenai Fjords Tours, Kenai Fjords Wilderness Lodge, Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge, and Seward Windsong Lodge. CIRI Alaska Tourism Corporation is a Minority Business Enterprise, MBE#PS0313. For more information, visit www.ciritourism.com.