5 of our favorite guest stories after 5 years in business!
We consider it our great joy to interact with guests throughout the years! While some guests choose to use us as a resource for planning their entire Alaskan vacation, and others prefer only to have interactions online during booking, we've had our fair share of delightful - and sometimes dizzying - guests. Here's five of our most memorable moments of hosting.
All guest names have been changed and we consider it an honor to be hosts and to treat our guests as we would want to be treated - no guest bashing happening here, promise!!
Our VERY FIRST guests, 2017.
Our very first guests were so incredibly kind. We opened Denali Hideaway the summer of 2017 and everything was very basic - here's all we offered as far as a kitchen went back then!! We had little know-how and a lot of heart and prayed that we would get guests who would treat us kindly! Sometimes the best way to get better at business is just to jump in and learn along the way. That's exactly what we did.
Joe* and Jane* were our first guests. It was so exciting to have those first reservations come through, and they were staying with us for several nights. Everything was set up incredibly basic, we used furniture that we already owned, borrowed, or bought cheaply. We had hospitality items like plastic silverware, but hadn't thought of things like cups. I still remember watching them from an upstairs window as they checked in, we have a key-code system which allows for non-contact check in and check out. It was the strangest feeling watching someone break into my house, even though I knew they were coming!
After their stay, they messaged and said they would like to visit before they checked out. While I do LOVE saying hello to our guests, I'm not one to go and chat over a cup of coffee, but I knew this was important. Over coffee, Joe and Jane kindly told us basically all of the things we should be doing differently. They were so kind in their corrections and I was so grateful to them for discussing things over coffee and not in a negative review! I credit a lot of our early growth to their gentleness and open conversation about what I could be doing to be a better host and provide a better service.
Easter Bunny, April 2018
Easter fell on April 1, 2018 and I remember receiving a reservation request to check in on that Sunday. We host guests occasionally throughout the winter, and this booking was a mom and young daughter traveling through from Anchorage to Fairbanks. I started putting the dates together in my head and realized this little one would be checking in on an important day!! Quickly, I accepted the booking and wrote back the mom. Would she mind if I helped the Easter Bunny and hid some eggs around the Hideaway and left some chocolates for her as well? It was SO much fun to see the surprise and delight that it brought this family and to be able to play a small part was just the best.
Unexpected Happenings, Summer 2018
Our Aunt and Uncle (that's us rafting with them!!) visited us the Summer of 2018 and we had a delightful time playing tour guide around Denali - it's one of our favorite things to do!! We had already booked out the Hideaway for the summer, so Aunt J and Uncle E drove their car up with a camper trailer behind it and just parked in our yard for their several day visit. When they arrived we quickly swapped stories catching up on family life and the conversation naturally gravitated toward our business, which at the time was only in its second summer.
I distinctly remember telling Aunt J how lovely all of our guests have been! When guests check in, it really does feel like friends are visiting us at the Hideaway - especially those in which we have given specific recommendations for their family. I went on and on about how they've been so kind and leave us kind reviews and how it's been the best experience we hoped for.
The next morning Aunt J and Uncle E came inside laughing about the night they had. They were sleeping in their camp trailer in our yard and sometime after 11 pm heard someone join them in the parking lot. (That midnight sun will give you hours and hours of outdoor exploration!!) They could tell it was one of our guests, but the surprising part was yet to come. Before they knew it, a guest - who likely had absolutely no idea there were people sleeping in the trailer parked in our driveway! - was shall we say.. experimenting with some new substances in our parking lot. Quickly, Aunt J and Uncle E's trailer filled up with the aroma of marijuana and they said they were laughing because they couldn't believe what was happening and the guest clearly was trying something new on vacation and was coughing and sputtering their way through their "relaxing" time. Just about the time they were going to go talk to our guest and ask them to move, the guest went inside and they had a good story to tell us in the morning. We apologized profusely and were just grateful that the guests were outside and not in the Hideaway!
PS: Please don't smoke any substance of any kind in the Hideaway.
Moose Fans, Summer 2019
In 2019, we had a family that checked into the Hideaway and their main goal was to get to see a moose! They let their kids explore the woods around the Hideaway and we prefer for kiddos to be supervised at all times if they're outdoors in our area. I messaged this mama and asked if she would please be outdoors with her kiddos as I would hate for a moose to surprise her kiddos who had never seen one before, and explained that moose are incredibly large in person and can be incredibly dangerous... in many ways, I would rather see a bear than a moose on the trail. Mother Moose are MEAN!! She messaged of course and out they went down the trail next to our house.
During their stay, we actually had a mama & baby moose in our yard!! I quickly messaged the guests and they came to see the moose from a safe distance - the mama moose is nearly the same size as our swing set and our guest was so glad for my moose warning! They had no idea the size of moose in real life.
Summer Guests, 2020
2020 will be remarkable in so many ways, and we were grateful for each and every guest who came to stay with us that summer. We had nearly 1/3 of the bookings that we normally do, but the guests we did have the privilege of hosting were SO incredible!! The Guests of Summer 2020 will always go down in my book as some of the most genuine, happy, adventurous folks we've met. Though many tours and restaurants and attractions were unavailable or available in altered states that summer, these guests were just thrilled to be here and were happy to do whatever was available to be done! We had guests bring us things from their home states, come and ask to meet us, heck one family even offered to go on a hike with us! During such a year of being alone, it was so heartwarming to have guests that were so genuinely pleased and grateful to be there.
And many more!!
We have so many favorite stories of guests and remarkable moments of hosting and are just so grateful that this is our job! And, the beauty of another year ahead is the opportunity to host more memorable guests.
*PS: Names are changed - promise!