Finding Luxury in the Alaskan Wilds
Thousands of people – both locals and tourists – long to escape the chaos of the commonplace, and find calm in the pristine natural beauty of the Alaskan Wilds. But while many hardcore Alaskans crave the adventure of a dry cabin that is only accessible by boat in the summer or snow machine in the winter, or plane year-round, a larger group of people want to experience nature in comfort – often “spoil-me rotten” luxurious comfort!
This type of “spoil-me” luxurious comfort is exactly what Teal Sky Heller and Russ Carpenter have been creating for the last two years. Once the couple found the perfect piece of land in Eklutna, they started clearing the property for future cabins, a spacious Gathering House (event venue), staff quarters, and an office. With 30 years’ experience in construction, Russ had the knowledge and skills needed to build the project; combined with Teal’s expansive experience in real estate, tourism, and both being avid adventurers, they have the perfect synergy to fulfill their dream.
BlueWater BaseCamp is the fulfillment of their dream, providing both Alaskans and tourists that visit our beautiful state with an unforgettable Alaskan wilderness experience wrapped in the comfort of a luxurious cabin equipped with abundant amenities and creature comforts. Nothing “dry” about these luxury cabins!
Teal shares their vision this way: “We are excited to bring a premium level of comfort to the hospitality options in the Anchorage area. No one is roughing it at BlueWater! All the cabins have running water, indoor plumbing, kitchenettes, 1,000 thread count sheets, and many more luxurious touches. Being open year-round is something we are really looking forward to. Eklutna Valley is in Anchorage’s backyard, and we look forward to giving locals and their visitors an opportunity to escape into nature with a warm cabin without a long drive. BlueWater BaseCamp is a haven for adventurers who want to unwind in style.”
The biggest hurdle they encountered was finding the funding for the overall project. They explored various financial options, but came up against roadblocks over and over. Hearing about the resources provided by the SBDC, Teal researched the various business advisors within the Anchorage SBDC and realized that one advisor had actually owned and operated special events venues. Teal contacted her and began meeting with Anchorage Business Advisor, Misty O’Connor.
“I sat down with Misty, and she was able to pinpoint the issue we were not seeing (Hint: it wasn’t our numbers!),” remembers Teal with amusement. “We learned to sell ourselves better with Misty’s help. We revamped how we market ourselves to banking institutions; and then through her contacts, we were able to find the perfect match in a lender. Misty introduced us to a lender from KeyBank that knew the hospitality industry, our business model, and what our business model was capable of doing. This proved to be the key to solving our financing quandary. We were told we were the perfect storm of a new business in the risky hospitality industry with an owner build that was already in progress. Ultimately, we successfully closed a $1.8 million dollar new construction SBA business loan with KeyBank.”
Throughout the process of developing the business, both Russ and Teal experienced significant health issues. “We had to redefine what outdoor adventuring looked like for us,” states Teal. “With that new lens on how to experience nature, we decided to make handicapped accessibility a priority in our building design. Of the eight cabins, the three larger cabins are fully handicapped accessible on the first floor and both the Main Office and The Gathering House (event venue) are handicapped accessible. Recently, we won the Alaska Travel Industry Shark Tank award to buy durable equipment to make our entire 5-acre site more handicapped-friendly.”
Along with the couple’s focus on accessibility for all people, the couple is also very excited about offering what they term a “Property Buy-out Opportunity” where families, organizations, or businesses can rent the entire property for their private wedding, corporate retreat, or family reunion. The property sleeps 22 and holds events up to 75.
BlueWater BaseCamp cabins are available to rent in January 2024, and the entire event venue available in late Spring of 2024. The reservation site is open for booking, and Teal and Russ are excited to share their Alaskan Wilds creation with the world.